I realize "everybody" is saying John Oliver is "hard-hitting" and "asked tough questions" in his interview with Snowden and that it is very hard when the Daily Beast says Oliver made Edward "squirm" and Tom Nichols thinks Snowden's handlers -- and that includes Moscow -- really "flubbed" things when they let him talk to the savvy Oliver (See where he has weighed in on the American Federalist). The cool kids have concluded that Snowden's image has been tarnished (as they did before when he went on a Russian state talk show to ask a pre-fabbed question of Putin) and they feel as if their concerns about Snowden have actually been served.
I wish I could believe that -- but the success of the ill-advised "Net Neutrality" campaign led by John Oliver lets me know that I need to take a far more weather eye to this latest cultural concoction.
So let's look over the shoulder of those critical Snowden watchers and look at the mission really accomplished here with Oliver's "savvy" interview.
His episode with Snowden starts with this and mentions it a number of times. I oppose his agenda because I'm for keeping the Patriot Act. I don't like terrorists who kill 140 students in Kenya and I personally believe this was made easier by Snowden's hack in so many ways, literal and philosophical. Whatever "reforms" need to be made to intelligence gathering shouldn't be made under the duress of Snowden's hack and shouldn't be made without a public indictment and crystalline clarity about Snowden's criminality. We haven't gotten that from the Obama administration which is why I oppose all reforms, full stop. I'm not like @20committee (John Schindler) on this.
He never ONCE mentions Russia or the fact that Snowden is under guard or that he meets him in a hotel and not a home or office and that's it's all very murky. We're to pretend not to notice that.
So now comes John Oliver's moment when GASP he tells Snowden he should "own" the leak of sensitive information that happened because the journalists messed up. Guess what? Snowden doesn't own it, and no male techie watching this show will feel he needs to own it because they will conclude that journalists are non-technical chumps who should let techies be the reporters instead of them. Mission accomplished.
Except, of course, there is no evidence (as Snowden admits) that this is actually happening. Snowden’s explanation showed how far the government would have to go, and how much data it would have to sift, to find such pictures, read texts, and match phone calls. His entire case rests, as it has always rested, on what could happen if someone with evil intent were to try to seize control of a massive bureaucracy and bend it to the goal of finding out whether a random guy in New York sent his girlfriend a picture of Mr. Happy. (Which, as a random guy in New York admitted to Oliver on camera, he did.) In trying to generate more outrage, Snowden inadvertently made the case for calming down.