Three of the four media outlets which received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden – The Guardian, The New York Times and The Intercept – have called for the U.S. government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the U.S. with no charges. That’s the normal course for a news organization, which owes its sources duties of protection, and which – by virtue of accepting the source’s materials and then publishing them – implicitly declares the source’s information to be in the public interest.
But not The Washington Post. In the face of a growing ACLU-and-Amnesty-led campaign to secure a pardon for Snowden, timed to this weekend’s release of the Oliver Stone biopic “Snowden,” the Post editorial page not only argued today in opposition to a pardon, but explicitly demanded that Snowden — their paper’s own source — stand trial on espionage charges or, as a “second-best solution,” “accept a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses and the U.S. government offers a measure of leniency.”
In doing so, The Washington Post has achieved an ignominious feat in U.S. media history: the first-ever paper to explicitly editorialize for the criminal prosecution of its own paper’s source — one on whose back the paper won and eagerly accepted a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. But even more staggering than this act of journalistic treachery against their paper’s own source are the claims made to justify it.