So the question is, what purpose does this endless and seemingly indiscriminate exposure of American national-security secrets serve? This is most definitely not the Pentagon Papers, when the Post and the New York Times exposed the truth about a war already gone by. This is, if not quite a war, then at least a genuine present danger to Americans — a threat that is, according to some officials, only growing more dangerous.
Finally, is the august Washington Post effectively endorsing Greenwald’s view of journalism by becoming part of his and Snowden’s dissemination machine? Is this wise? Many of us believe, contra Greenwald, that without objectivity as a working ideal, good journalism is lost forever. There is no longer any direction home to the truth. Shouldn’t we be taking a stand? Already, because of the rise of Greenwaldism and the blogger culture that has invaded traditional journalism (at the Post, most egregiously in the person of the habitually misinformative Jennifer Rubin), junk science and bad information rule in every debate in Washington from climate change to stimulus spending.
Yes, Greenwald is correct to say that “adversarial journalism” has had a very long history, going back to the pamphleteers of the Revolution like Tom Paine. But so did the practice of slavery and the conduct war without the Geneva conventions. There is always a place for advocates and zealots — America will always welcome its Tom Paines — but I think most of us would prefer to have them on the op-ed page. Most of us in the business consider the effort at objectivity in journalism to be evidence of progress.