Snowden reporting wins the Pulitzer for WaPo, Guardian

posted at 8:41 am on April 15, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Bloomberg’s report suggests that “there was a lot of debate” about whether the Pulitzer Prize committee would reward the Guardian and the Washington Post for their coverage of Edward Snowden’s leaks. Was there a debate, though? There hasn’t been much of a debate from the editorial caste of the news media over the news value of the information, which uncovered the scope of domestic surveillance conducted by the NSA, although there has been plenty of passionate debate elsewhere over whether the Guardian and the Post stepped over the line:

The Hill covers the award itself, given out yesterday:

The Pulitzer Prize for public service was awarded Monday to The Washington Post and The Guardian, which broke the story of National Security Agency surveillance programs leaked by Edward Snowden.

In giving U.S. journalism’s top prize to the Guardian and the Post, the Pulitzer committee delivered support for Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian journalist most associated with the story, while offering a rebuke of the government.

The Pulitzer board called out the Post for its “authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security,” and the Guardian for “helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.”

Publication of the NSA stories deeply embarrassed the Obama administration, and turned Snowden into perhaps the country’s most famous fugitive.

Critics say that the leaks have weakened U.S. national security and put Americans in danger. They also argue that Snowden’s files, including information not yet released to the public, is likely in the hands of the Russians and Chinese.

Politico’s Dylan Byers predicts that the award will be claimed as vindication by Snowden and his media partners:

Edward Snowden didn’t win a Pulitzer on Monday, but he might as well have.

In a move certain to be interpreted as a vindication of the former government contractor’s efforts, the Pulitzer Prize Board on Monday awarded The Guardian US and The Washington Post its coveted Public Service award for reporting on the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance practices.

Byers confirmed his own prediction:

Snowden immediately declared the decision “a vindication.”

“Today’s decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government,” he said in a statement to The Guardian. “We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance.”

Martin Baron, the executive editor of the Washington Post, told POLITICO, “None of this would have been possible without Snowden’s release of classified information. I understand that’s a source of controversy, but without his disclosures there would be no discussion of the shift from the rights of the individual to state power, no debate about the balance between privacy and national security.”

Not everyone is happy with the decision. PJM’s Bridget Johnson captured Rep. Peter King’s reaction to the decision:

But today’s announcement of the 2014 Pulitzer Prizes stoked an old debate about whether a former NSA contractor who leaked details about the surveillance programs — among other leaks — is a traitor or a whistleblower. Today, he was the muse of award winners.

“Awarding the Pulitzer to Snowden enablers is a disgrace,” tweeted Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.).

At least for one day, the award didn’t seem to make too many people change their minds about Snowden, or about the nature of the leaks he’s engineered over the past eleven months about US surveillance and intelligence efforts. That shows in large part how little a Pulitzer means outside of the editorial caste and to their recipients. It’s a bragging point within the industry, not a vindication, no matter how much one wants to see it as a blessing from on high. It’s simply a recognition within a peer group of perceived excellence, and few inside that peer group seemed anything but fully supportive of Snowden and his media partners from the first.

For me, Snowden and the reporting that followed from his massive theft of classified material are a mixed bag. It seems clear that abuses were occurring, and that officials like James Clapper lied about it to Congress. (Why Clapper remains as DNI is a mystery that even exceeds that of Sebelius’ longevity in the Obama administration.) Whistleblowers have channels within the US to call attention to real abuses; it’s still an open question as to whether Snowden actually tried to use those, and also a question as to whether those are safe and effective, too. Still, the scope and nature of Snowden’s actions tends to argue against him as just a mere whistleblower looking to stop abuses. The Snowden cache and exposure went far beyond that into areas that appeared deliberately designed to damage American intelligence capabilities abroad, and Snowden’s attempts at asylum in China and then Russia raise serious questions about his motivations — especially with a newly-aggressive Russia.


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Vindication?

John Yoo doesn’t think so.

http://ricochet.com/outrageous-gesture-pulitzer-prizes/

BuckeyeSam on April 15, 2014 at 8:45 AM

“there was a lot of debate”

Right .

Lucano on April 15, 2014 at 8:46 AM

So it was high quality work? or is this for the political statement?

forest on April 15, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Just fold up the chairs and turn out the lights. We are doomed. We have been doomed. Our values are not the values of those who control the microphones. He is a traitor. He is being rewarded.

djl130 on April 15, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Snowden exposing that the US government spies on American citizens in violation of the 4th Amendment: good.
Snowden exposing that the US government spies on the rest of the world when every government worthy of its name does the same: bad.

Eric could have just exposed the first part without exposing means and methods of the second part. Everyone knows everyone spies on everyone, you just don’t talk about it. And he’s given the information to our two biggest enemies.

BTW, has the NY Times given back Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer? Until they do, that award, much like the Nobel Peace Prize is a joke.

rbj on April 15, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Another cheapening of what used to be prestigious awards – right up there with giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Hussein Obama.

JayVee on April 15, 2014 at 8:54 AM

I think the Guardian deserves it but the Post is an arm of the marxist government. What Snowden did would only be wrong against a representative government. The Revolutionaries were breaking the law too.

crankyoldlady on April 15, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Say what you will about Snowden, Greenwald, The Guardian,et al. But this award was well earned and the reporting has sparked a supremely important debate in America.

rogaineguy on April 15, 2014 at 9:11 AM

I don’t really have a problem with this, if they really thought it was good reporting rather than a prize for the political statement.

News organizations exist to put out the news. Snowden was news.

The problem is within our government. They’re illegally spying on Americans and can’t even keep it contained. They give access to sensitive information to fruitcakes like Bradley Chelsea Manning. Snowden wasn’t even a spook. He was an assistant systems administrator. He got away with loads of information on a thumb drive. I used to work with a lot of defense contractors. Their machines’ USB ports were unusable when connected to DOD networks. Why wasn’t Snowden’s?

Occams Stubble on April 15, 2014 at 9:13 AM

So which “conservative” columnist who hates Conservatives and loves Obama gets it this year.

Marcus on April 15, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Snowden to be on the 3 dollar bill…

Electrongod on April 15, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Next up, a posthumous award to the Rosenbergs.

Joseph K on April 15, 2014 at 9:28 AM

So it was high quality work? or is this for the political statement?

forest on April 15, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Come on – Politi”Fact” won its 2009 Pulitzer for its role in electing Teh SCOAMT.

Steve Eggleston on April 15, 2014 at 9:37 AM

If Pete King hates it, it must be a good thing for the American citizenry.

orangemtl on April 15, 2014 at 9:42 AM

What a crock.

rlwo2008 on April 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

The only question was going to be whether or not the Pulitzer would be handed out on the story not because the Guardian and the Post went too far, but because the Guardian and the Post embarrassed the Obama Administration with Snowden’s revelations.

If there was going to be a backlash, it was going to be on those grounds, not on the grounds of national security. But enough of the Pulitzer voting committee are comfortable in the Glenn Greenwald role ideologically, so that detailing the NSA activities, including parts that never should have come to light and harmed real U.S. security interests, trumped the fact that it made the guy in the White House they’d formerly do anything for look Nixonian.

jon1979 on April 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

what did snowden tell anyone here that we didn’t already know?
I can only speak for myself but the only thing I learned was some quotes they used on some slides, what they were actually doing I have known for years. I knew it when I roomed with crypto guys in the army in the 80′s and never underestimated what they can and would do.

what do other countries now know about how the nsa deals with them? good chance they learned a lot more about those programs than we learned about the spying on us programs.
IOW the stuff nsa actually is supposed to be doing.

dmacleo on April 15, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Snowden has to be bored out of his mind. Russia gets old. He’s not free to travel even within Russia. They won’t allow him to live in Moscow or St Petersburg. He’s not fluent in the language and he may never be. Unless he gets married and has children and devotes his life to them, he really has nothing. And as soon as his children come of age, they will move to the west. It’s pretty much the story of all traitors.

Blake on April 15, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Means about as much as the Nobel crackpots giving their prize to Obama.

major dad on April 15, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Snowden has to be bored out of his mind. Russia gets old. He’s not free to travel even within Russia. They won’t allow him to live in Moscow or St Petersburg. He’s not fluent in the language and he may never be. Unless he gets married and has children and devotes his life to them, he really has nothing. And as soon as his children come of age, they will move to the west. It’s pretty much the story of all traitors.

Blake on April 15, 2014 at 10:17 AM

He wanted to play Espionage: the Great game, and he didn’t like the rules…so don’t play the damn game.

Enjoy your permanent stay in Hotel Lubyanka…I’m sure Concierge Putin has JUST the room for you.

BlaxPac on April 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Who cares though? The Pulitzers are about as meaningful as the Oscars now.

ddrintn on April 15, 2014 at 11:38 AM

^ …or Time’s “Person of the Year”. I can remember when people waited for that one with bated breath too.

ddrintn on April 15, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Well deserved.

DisneyFan on April 15, 2014 at 12:19 PM