One of the problems with whistleblowers is that they don’t fit a media narrative well. Media narratives want to be about people; they want good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains. That gets problematic when you don’t have and can never get the full story, and NBC’s exclusive interview with Edward Snowden is a case in point.
The problem is this: We owe Snowden for his relevation of PRISM and the ultimate fallout of that rendering large chunks of the program unconstitutional. But that’s the story, as far as it goes for the man on the street.
So a lot of Snowden’s interview is mostly about, well, Edward Snowden, and honestly, the guy’s just not that interesting. Far too much of this interview was taken up with arguing over what amounts to his resume or complaining that he got stranded in Russia because the government revoked his passport. The latter is reasonable, but it’s still talking about paperwork.
All of this boils down to little more than a distraction. Snowden doesn’t really say anything that a logical person couldn’t conclude on their own, and NBC isn’t willing to push him for anything substantial. They’d rather turn him into a media star than talk about why they’re interviewing him in the first place.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, by far the biggest problem is that within just a handful of years, and without any discussion, we’ve completely redefined what privacy is. Stuff you used to need a private eye to find out is now just sitting there on public Facebook profiles. Nobody’s talking about forcing Facebook to make everyone it sells your information to a matter of public record. Nobody’s discussing whether or not the NSA and Google should follow the same rules. We owe Edward Snowden a lot, but we need to start talking about that, not why he’s stuck in Russia.