Monthly Archives: september 2013

Biografisk filmstorm

Af Søren Høy

I skrivende stund har ’Spies & Glistrup’ rundet 230.000 solgte billetter i de danske biografer. Filmen om de to excentriske venner, der i 1970’erne eksperimenterede med henholdsvis stoffer og skatteregler, er populær. Den skal nok ramme 400.000 inden den bliver pillet af fremviserne.

Filmen er en sjælden biografisk succes i 2013, hvor det vælter ud med film om politikere, kongelige og fænomener fra de sidste 50 år.

De portrætterede hovedpersoner er som oftest figurer, vi har et nært forhold til, og som minder os om tragedier, triumfer og milepæle i familie- og arbejdslivet. Når filmene er bedst, giver de refleksion og lyst til fordybelse og forståelse af vores egen historie.

De seneste uger er filmene om Apple-maestro Steve Jobs (’Jobs’) og Formel 1-legende Niki Lauda (’Rush’) åbnet i Danmark. I dag premierer historien om ’The Butler’, der tjente under hele otte præsidenter i Det Hvide Hus.

I næste uge kan biografgængerne møde Prinsesse Diana, senere på året ’Grace of Monaco’ med Nicole Kidman, Julian Assange fra WikiLeaks, klaver-virtuosen Liberace, travhesten Tarok og den svenske jazz-stjerne Monica Zetterlund. En imponerende combo af divaer, ikoner og en enkelt hingst.

Publikumstilstrømningen til de biografiske film er stærkt varierende. Pudsigt nok betyder hovedpersonens fanskare ikke noget for, hvor mange der indløser billet i biografen.

’Jobs’ er eksempelvis en fiasko i USA, hvor den kun har indspillet 15 millioner dollars – tre millioner mindre end den har kostet at lave.

Måske havde producerne regnet med, at alle der har købt Jobs’ biografi eller et Apple-aggregat ville se filmen.

En film kræver en tydelig konflikt, og da den konflikt ofte er hovedpersonens spaltede personlighed, har filmen nemt ved at støde fans fra sig. Analysen er, at publikum ikke har lyst til at se en alt for kritisk gennemgang af de mennesker, som de dybest set ønsker at beundre. Det samme kan man frygte på flere af de kommende films vegne.

I dansk regi savner jeg den politiske, kritiske og samfundsperspektiverende film om Jens Otto Krag. Han har formatet til en film, der både kan tage et fingeraftryk af velfærds-Danmark og forhåbentlig give nye generationer indsigtsrige detaljer om alt fra magtspil til tabloidsensationer. Lidt det samme som ’Spies & Glistrup’ begejstrer med i de her dage.

Oscarkampagnen starter her

Af Søren Høy, Viasat Film

De store amerikanske selskaber bruger Toronto til at starte kampagnerne for deres Oscar-film.

I salene sidder masser af medlemmer af Oscar Akademiet, der stemmer om hvem, der skal møde op i fint tøj den 2. marts i Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles. Sammen med folk fra den industrielle side af filmen sidder pressen. Vi skriver om filmene, og er med til at starte en tidlig buzz for de bedste af dem. På gangene i den store Bell Light Box biograf går de magtfulde filmchefer rundt. I går stod mægtige Harvey Weinstein (The Artist) klar udenfor screeningen af en af sine film. Han er mesteren over dem alle, når det handler om at få en film Oscar-nomineret. Han taler jovialt med folk i salen, som han kender. Giver dem et klap på skulderen, viser dem tillid. Han ved, at de godt husker ham, når de sidder hjemme med listen over de mange film, de har mulighed for at stemme på.

Det er af samme årsag, at de mange stjerner møder op i Toronto. De går relativt uforstyrret rundt i gaderne, sidder på barer og cafeer, mens de mange filmfolk spankulerer forbi. I dag sad jeg og drak kaffe ved siden af Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network) og Mark Ruffalo (Hulk). De bliver set, de virker menneskelige og er derfor tættere på dem, der skal stemme. Det hele er et stort planlagt kampagnetrick. Og det virker.

Der er medier, der bruger meget tid på at forudse, hvem der kommer til Oscar-fest. Det virker lidt overdrevet i vores del af verden, men her er det big business. Der er millioner af dollars at tjene på en Oscar-nominering. Skuespillerne laver større film efter en Oscar-film, producenterne laver bedre film med pengene – og i en perfekt verden drøner succes-centrifugen rundt.

I de her dage kommer alle eksperterne med deres bud på årets Oscar-film. Ikke underligt er syv af de ni bud på bedste film nogle, der er blevet vist for branchen i Toronto. Det er et mønster, som gør Toronto endnu stærkere i forhold til andre festivaler.

12 Years a Slave

Relateret billede
12 Years a Slave

Den film som flest tipper til en plads på podiet er Steve McQueens ’12 Years a Slave’. Bygget på en sand historie er filmen sat i 1841 godt 20 år før den amerikanske borgerkrig. Den handler om den respektable bedsteborger i New York, Solomon Northup, der bliver kidnappet fra sin familie og solgt til en farmer i de dystre sydstater. Northup er intellektuel, musiker og dekadent. Hans fangeskab ydmyger ham, tager æren og værdigheden ud af ham. Han ser pludselig hvor naivt han levede sammen med sin kone og børn blandt åndsliberale. Dengang var slaveriet sydpå en politisk diskussion med de andre i logen. Nu er han fanget et sted, hvor alle er sig selv nærmest. Resten bliver klynget op i et træ på gårdspladsen.

Chiwetel Ejiofor spiller Northup til en Oscar. Det samme gør Michael Fassbender, som den fordrukne farmer, der på den ene side pisker sine mandlige slaver samtidig med, at han seksuelt udnytter kvinderne.

Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) er instruktør McQueens yndling. Deres samarbejder rækker over de tre film ’Hunger’, ’Shame’ og nu denne skræmmende historiske perle, der ned sit dystre tema passer godt til danskernes temperament og historiesyn. Analogierne i filmen til både jødeudryddelsen 100 år senere og nutidens flygtningesituation er tydelig. Historien har vist, at vi nemt fjerner en persons identitet, hjem og legitimitet samt mennesket før indser katastrofer, når de er indtruffet.

’12 Years a Slave’ ligner en Oscar-vinder. Der skal meget til at slå en film med det skuespil og den relevans.

Vi er de bedste

Svensk 80’er punk

Af Søren Høy, Viasat Film

Bobo er en drenget-udseende 13-årig pige. Hun har klippet sit hår helt kort, med den effekt at sygekassebrillerne på sin lille næsetip fremhæves til hendes store fortrydelse. Hvis Bobo så præcis sådan ud i 2013, så ville hun være mega hip, men hendes problem er, at hun bor alene sammen med sin mandeglade mor i Stockholm i 1982. Heldigvis har hun sin gode veninde fra klassen, Klara, der har lavet en lidt slatten hanekam, som hun forsøger at stive af med håndsæbe.

De to søde tøser hører svensk punkrock på walkmanden, og bruger det meste af tiden på deres værelser, så de slipper for søskende, forældre og bedre kan fordybe sig i deres nye projekt; de vil starte et samfundskritisk punkband.

”Filmen er for alle dem, der er 13 år, alle der engang har været 13 år og alle dem der engang bliver 13 år,” fortæller filmens instruktør Lukas Moodysson.

Han er en af Skandinaviens mest interessante instruktører. Han har siden gennembruddet med ’Fucking Åmål’ (1998) bevæget sig over dystre brutaliteter i ’Lilja 4-Ever’ (2002) og mærkværdige kunstfilm som ’Et hul i mit hjerte’ (2004) og ’Container’ (2006) til en enkelt stor Hollywood-stylet produktion ’Mammut’ (2009) Ingen af de senere film har opnået de store indtjeningstal, men de har givet instruktøren et stort navn hos cineasterne, der elsker når en instruktør skider på markedskræfterne og laver sine hjerteprojekter.

Den 44-årige skånings største succeser er foruden ’Fuking Åmål’ kollektiv-filmen ’Tilsammans’ (2000), hvor han med elegant humor og legende fortælling kærligt spiddede hippie-generationens løjerligt ugennemtænkte moral og deres manglende evne til at fuldføre deres projekt om at kunne leve i samhørighed under samme tag.

’Vi är bäst!’ hedder Toronto-filmen, der blev vist foran et begejstret publikum. En proppet sal med stemmer der afslørede, at publikum fra hele verden ved, hvem Moodysson er, og at han står for unikke produktioner med sublimt skuespil og tidsportrætter. Uanset om han har bevæget sig langt ud i krogene af filmens verden, så har han en tydelig signatur.

’Vi är bäst!’ har en kærlig tone og et sympatisk generationsportræt. Ikke mindst er den et lille opråb om ikke at lade konformiteterne og reglerne overtage vores håbefulde unge. Der skal være oprør, vildskab og store drømme.

Der bør være et stort publikum, der står og venter på denne her film. Vi er jo alle sammen 13 år på en måde, som Moodysson så rigtigt påpeger det.

Amazing Antboy

Af Søren Høy

Dansk børnefilm er repræsenteret i Toronto af Ask Hasselbalchs debutfilm ’Antboy’ er en hyldest til det fantasifulde, det legende og drømmen om at kunne gøre en markant forskel.

Myredrengen er den 12-årige Pelle. I starten er han dog bare Pelle, der, som vi kender det fra ’Gummi Tarzan’, er en lille fyr, der bliver tilsidesat, overset og mobbet fordi han er en dagdrømmer med så smalle skuldre, at hans skjorte er ved at falde af ham. Han er forelsket i klassens yndige pige, der naturligvis ,som formlen foreskriver, ser i alle andre retninger end Pelles.

Pelle bliver midt i elendigheden bidt af en radioaktiv myre, der pludselig giver ham de superkræfter, som med et trylleslag gør ham til talk of the town. Med hjælp fra sin ven, tegneserienørden Wilhelm, bliver Pelle til Antboy, der klarer ærterne, fanger forbryderne og hjælper byens nødstedte. Helt i ånden fra forbilledet ’Spiderman’, der konstant trækkes tydelige og kærlige referencer fra.

’Antboy’ er overdådigt spillet af de to knægte, der spiller sjældent morsomt og troværdigt i filmens eventyrlige ramme. Børnene vil rotere af grin, når Pelle banker sin militante gymnastiklærer, tisser syre så pissoiret smelter og smider en bil over skulderen. Vi er nået langt i filmteknologiens udvikling, så den slags virker uden forbehold.

Skurken er fysisk stort spillet af Nicolas Bro. Han er ’Loppen’

“Loppen”

der truer Pelles store kærlighed. Det pudseløjerlige her er, at Bro i virkeligheden er indehaver af en komplet og sjælden Marvel-seriesamling, og at Oscar Dietz, der spiller Pelle, med lidt god vilje ligner Bro som knægt. Der er et åndeligt og fysisk sammenfald mellem de to, der gør kemien og dermed det karikerende univers rørende og indsigtsfuldt.

Vi er desværre ikke berigede af vigtige og mindeværdige børnefilm i de her år. Ambitionsbarren har lagt sig et sted, hvor man som voksen har svært ved at stå ved kvaliteten og budskaberne, når vi slæber ungerne med i biografen.

’Antboy’ vil mere. Den kan mere. Den evner både at være en underholdende film, en god historie og legende let lægge sig tæt op af sine forbilleder uden at plagiere men mere hylde og respektere.

Nu er der endelig en film, der kan alt det, som vi har råbt efter. Glæd jer til den 3. oktober, når den får premiere. Jeg glæder mig allerede til at se den igen.

TIME cover for June 24, 2013 issue

Forty-six percent of Americans, according to an Ipsos/Reuters poll, do not know whether the NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who disclosed information on top secret surveillance programs, is a patriot or a traitor. They probably do not know if he is a whistleblower either, but, perhaps, they are interested in more information so they could decide.

Enter TIME magazine.

The magazine, which made “The Whistleblowers” the publication’s “Person of the Year” in 2002, has cast Snowden as part of a young generation of individuals who represent “something new.” These are “young people [who have] come of age in the defiant culture of the Internet.”

This “new” breed of individual, according to TIME, are also people like Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has confessed to disclosing United States government information to WikiLeaks and is on trial at Fort Meade, and Aaron Swartz, the Internet activist who committed suicide while the US Justice Department was zealously pursuing a prosecution of him for liberating documents from an academic database called JSTOR. And, they are labeled “The Informers.”

Jesselyn Radack, who heads the national security and human rights division of the Government Accountability Project and defends whistleblowers, reacted, “All three of these people were trying to either make information publicly available for more people to see or expose government crimes.” She added what TIME is doing is “equating whistleblowing to spying, which is pure propaganda.”

The story is titled, “The Geeks Who Leak,” a reference to the fact that these individuals come from a culture that has embraced hacktivism:

…[A]mong Snowden and Manning’s age group, from 18 to 34, the numbers are much higher, with 43% saying Snowden should not be prosecuted. That hacktivist ethos is growing around the world, driven in large part by young hackers who are increasingly disrupting all manner of institutional power with online protest and Internet theft. “That’s the most optimistic thing that is happening–the radicalization of the Internet-educated youth, people who are receiving their values from the Internet,” said Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in an April interview with Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt. “This is the political education of apolitical technical people. It is extraordinary.”

But, this conflates all young people who are skeptical of authority and institutions with those who are willing to engage in online protest or “Internet theft” and “hack” into systems or confront government agencies and powerful companies online.

It hypes the threat of hacking to present an argument that there are a strain of youth willing to break the law, as if the country does not have a historical tradition of civil disobedience.

Michael Scherer writes:

More than 1.4 million Americans now hold top-secret security clearances in the military and the shadow world of intelligence. Most do not contact reporters and activists over encrypted e-mail in hopes of publishing secrets as civil disobedience. Few are willing to give up their house, their $122,000-a-year job, their girlfriend or their freedom to expose systems that have been approved by Congress and two Presidents, under the close monitoring of the federal courts. Snowden is different, and that difference is changing everything. [emphasis added]

In truth, Snowden is no different than Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst at the NSA who was a source for a 2005 New York Times story on warrantless wiretapping by the NSA. Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician who revealed in May 2006 that AT&T was working with the NSA to spy on Americans’ communications, or Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower who revealed top secret information about the Vietnam War and what really led America to start it. [*Here’s a list of others, who have blown the whistle and defied authority or what was the norm inside of a company or institution.]

Outside of whistleblowers, there are people who have protested like women, African-Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT), immigrants, environmentalists, etc, because they believed what had been acceptable culturally and systemically was worth challenging so that future generations could live a better life—one free of the injustices, discrimination or government policies they endured.

Scherer presents Snowden, Manning and Swartz as extremist or absolutist privacy advocates. It characterizes them as extremist or absolutist transparency advocates. It fails to properly examine the post-9/11 context in which they have developed this idealism, where they desire a society that is more respectful of privacy rights or the circumstances of excessive government secrecy, which would lead to young people wanting information to be free.

Then, there is this particular paragraph:

Manning’s statement is a radical one, since it directly undermines the rule of law, something both men seemed to recognize. “When you are subverting the power of government, that’s a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy,” Snowden said of his actions. And in official Washington, the broad consensus is that the impulse is dead wrong and likely to cause real harm. “What this young man has done, I can say with a fair amount of certainty, is going to cost someone their lives,” said Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss, who is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Neither the Obama White House nor the leaders of either party are much concerned about the legality or the effectiveness of the sweeping data-collection programs; both sides, however, seemed quite keen to track down Snowden and bring him to justice. The public, according to a new TIME poll, echoed that impulse, with 53% of Americans saying Snowden should be prosecuted, compared with just 28% who say he should be sent on his way.

Anyone reading it would get the idea that Americans do not approve of these people, who think it is okay to defy the law. Manning believes it was acceptable to “undermine” the rule of law and even Snowden admits that what he did is dangerous to democracy. However, Scherer cherry-picked a quote and altered the meaning.

Here is what Snowden said, when interviewed by The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald, who wrote stories on his disclosures:

The public is owed an explanation by the people who make these disclosures that are outside the democratic model. When you are subverting the power of government, that is a fundamentally dangerous thing to a democracy and, if you do that in secret consistently, as the government does when it wants to benefit from a secret action it took, it’ll kind of give its officials a mandate to go, hey, tell the press about this thing and that thing so the public is on our side. But, they rarely, if ever, do that when an abuse occurs. That falls to individual citizens, but they’re typically maligned. It becomes a thing of these citizens are against the country, but I’m not…

Snowden was talking about officials who go to the press undermine democracy by not explaining their motivations for disclosing information on secret programs or policies that they know will be beneficial or make government look good. He recognized that this is an abuse of authority and did not want to do the same, which is why he came forward and explained his motives in an interview with Greenwald.

Furthermore, by labeling these individuals “informers” they become people whom the government would be justified in prosecuting under the Espionage Act.

Scherer suggests:

The government, meanwhile, is likely to treat Snowden as if he was a Cold War spy seeking to undermine the country he still claims to serve. The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the disclosure of classified information, a prelude to a standard espionage prosecution. Even though charges may not be filed for weeks, it is likely that prosecutors will try to extradite Snowden to the U.S. for trial and seek a punishment of life in prison.

What Scherer omits is how prosecuting leakers or whistleblowers as spies is a new development. The administration of President Barack Obama has prosecuted a record number under the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that was not intended for deterring the release of classified information to the press but to go after spies who aided enemies or provided information that could advantage a foreign nation.

One would think if the magazine was going to present these people as “informers,” which has connotations similar to spies, they would have given this a closer look. But, the magazine accepts a given that Snowden will be treated as a “Cold War spy,” as if that would not be troubling but routine.

As I wrote previously, journalists like Scherer ignore or disregard the fact that the government has carved out national security exceptions to protect power from disclosures that Snowden made by ensuring that he can be prosecuted, jailed and effectively silenced no matter how he makes disclosures.” They also are perfectly willing to give voice to those in power who support zealous prosecution of these individuals for periods that exceed the length of time they would ever advocate for torturers, war criminals or those who commit felonies in violation of laws intended to protect individual rights and liberty in the United States.

They have no problem with the arrogation of power in the Executive Branch so they will produce journalism intended to rationalize the functions and expansion of the national security state. When confronted by individuals who challenge national security policies and programs, they display unbounded contempt for individuals who they think have arrogated the power to act as truth-tellers and inform the public of information they believe the public has a right to know.

In this case, TIME goes beyond putting these individuals’ personal flaws under a microscope and typecasts them as “the 21st century mole,” who “demands no payments for his secrets.”

Media organizations like TIME are also far too willing to divide and conquer, to choose who is a real whistleblower and who is not based on the public or political reaction. Manning is not a whistleblower, but Ellsberg is a whistleblower. Even though Ellsberg considers Manning a whistleblower, that means nothing because to explore how Manning is a classic whistleblower would be an affront to the establishment and powerful, which they need to maintain access and influence.

If this is how Americans understand these people, not only does it further chill confidential sources who wish to disclose information that is in the public interest to the press, but it effectively curtails the ability of media organizations to perform their role as the Fourth Estate, which is supposed to fulfill a watchdog function and check the power of all branches of government. It enhances the ability of government to manufacture consent for policies and programs that force Americans to give up liberty whenever someone shouts “Terrorist” or claims it is on behalf of national security without any proof whatsoever that it will be required to make the country safer

Finally, the biggest problem is that this is agitprop material masquerading as serious informative journalism. If one is not familiar with the stories of recent whistleblowers or do not understand issues around secrecy, transparency and leaks, the average person is not going to realize that it is disinformation.

 

By: Kevin Gosztola Thursday June 13, 2013 4:55 pm


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TIME cover for June 24, 2013 issue

Forty-six percent of Americans, according to an Ipsos/Reuters poll, do not know whether the NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who disclosed information on top secret surveillance programs, is a patriot or a traitor. They probably do not know if he is a whistleblower either, but, perhaps, they are interested in more information so they could decide.

Enter TIME magazine.

The magazine, which made “The Whistleblowers” the publication’s “Person of the Year” in 2002, has cast Snowden as part of a young generation of individuals who represent “something new.” These are “young people [who have] come of age in the defiant culture of the Internet.”

This “new” breed of individual, according to TIME, are also people like Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has confessed to disclosing United States government information to WikiLeaks and is on trial at Fort Meade, and Aaron Swartz, the Internet activist who committed suicide while the US Justice Department was zealously pursuing a prosecution of him for liberating documents from an academic database called JSTOR. And, they are labeled “The Informers.”

Jesselyn Radack, who heads the national security and human rights division of the Government Accountability Project and defends whistleblowers, reacted, “All three of these people were trying to either make information publicly available for more people to see or expose government crimes.” She added what TIME is doing is “equating whistleblowing to spying, which is pure propaganda.”

The story is titled, “The Geeks Who Leak,” a reference to the fact that these individuals come from a culture that has embraced hacktivism:

…[A]mong Snowden and Manning’s age group, from 18 to 34, the numbers are much higher, with 43% saying Snowden should not be prosecuted. That hacktivist ethos is growing around the world, driven in large part by young hackers who are increasingly disrupting all manner of institutional power with online protest and Internet theft. “That’s the most optimistic thing that is happening–the radicalization of the Internet-educated youth, people who are receiving their values from the Internet,” said Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in an April interview with Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt. “This is the political education of apolitical technical people. It is extraordinary.”

But, this conflates all young people who are skeptical of authority and institutions with those who are willing to engage in online protest or “Internet theft” and “hack” into systems or confront government agencies and powerful companies online.

It hypes the threat of hacking to present an argument that there are a strain of youth willing to break the law, as if the country does not have a historical tradition of civil disobedience.

Michael Scherer writes:

More than 1.4 million Americans now hold top-secret security clearances in the military and the shadow world of intelligence. Most do not contact reporters and activists over encrypted e-mail in hopes of publishing secrets as civil disobedience. Few are willing to give up their house, their $122,000-a-year job, their girlfriend or their freedom to expose systems that have been approved by Congress and two Presidents, under the close monitoring of the federal courts. Snowden is different, and that difference is changing everything. [emphasis added]

In truth, Snowden is no different than Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst at the NSA who was a source for a 2005 New York Times story on warrantless wiretapping by the NSA. Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician who revealed in May 2006 that AT&T was working with the NSA to spy on Americans’ communications, or Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower who revealed top secret information about the Vietnam War and what really led America to start it. [*Here’s a list of others, who have blown the whistle and defied authority or what was the norm inside of a company or institution.]

Outside of whistleblowers, there are people who have protested like women, African-Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT), immigrants, environmentalists, etc, because they believed what had been acceptable culturally and systemically was worth challenging so that future generations could live a better life—one free of the injustices, discrimination or government policies they endured.

Scherer presents Snowden, Manning and Swartz as extremist or absolutist privacy advocates. It characterizes them as extremist or absolutist transparency advocates. It fails to properly examine the post-9/11 context in which they have developed this idealism, where they desire a society that is more respectful of privacy rights or the circumstances of excessive government secrecy, which would lead to young people wanting information to be free.

Then, there is this particular paragraph:

Manning’s statement is a radical one, since it directly undermines the rule of law, something both men seemed to recognize. “When you are subverting the power of government, that’s a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy,” Snowden said of his actions. And in official Washington, the broad consensus is that the impulse is dead wrong and likely to cause real harm. “What this young man has done, I can say with a fair amount of certainty, is going to cost someone their lives,” said Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss, who is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Neither the Obama White House nor the leaders of either party are much concerned about the legality or the effectiveness of the sweeping data-collection programs; both sides, however, seemed quite keen to track down Snowden and bring him to justice. The public, according to a new TIME poll, echoed that impulse, with 53% of Americans saying Snowden should be prosecuted, compared with just 28% who say he should be sent on his way.

Anyone reading it would get the idea that Americans do not approve of these people, who think it is okay to defy the law. Manning believes it was acceptable to “undermine” the rule of law and even Snowden admits that what he did is dangerous to democracy. However, Scherer cherry-picked a quote and altered the meaning.

Here is what Snowden said, when interviewed by The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald, who wrote stories on his disclosures:

The public is owed an explanation by the people who make these disclosures that are outside the democratic model. When you are subverting the power of government, that is a fundamentally dangerous thing to a democracy and, if you do that in secret consistently, as the government does when it wants to benefit from a secret action it took, it’ll kind of give its officials a mandate to go, hey, tell the press about this thing and that thing so the public is on our side. But, they rarely, if ever, do that when an abuse occurs. That falls to individual citizens, but they’re typically maligned. It becomes a thing of these citizens are against the country, but I’m not…

Snowden was talking about officials who go to the press undermine democracy by not explaining their motivations for disclosing information on secret programs or policies that they know will be beneficial or make government look good. He recognized that this is an abuse of authority and did not want to do the same, which is why he came forward and explained his motives in an interview with Greenwald.

Furthermore, by labeling these individuals “informers” they become people whom the government would be justified in prosecuting under the Espionage Act.

Scherer suggests:

The government, meanwhile, is likely to treat Snowden as if he was a Cold War spy seeking to undermine the country he still claims to serve. The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the disclosure of classified information, a prelude to a standard espionage prosecution. Even though charges may not be filed for weeks, it is likely that prosecutors will try to extradite Snowden to the U.S. for trial and seek a punishment of life in prison.

What Scherer omits is how prosecuting leakers or whistleblowers as spies is a new development. The administration of President Barack Obama has prosecuted a record number under the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that was not intended for deterring the release of classified information to the press but to go after spies who aided enemies or provided information that could advantage a foreign nation.

One would think if the magazine was going to present these people as “informers,” which has connotations similar to spies, they would have given this a closer look. But, the magazine accepts a given that Snowden will be treated as a “Cold War spy,” as if that would not be troubling but routine.

As I wrote previously, journalists like Scherer ignore or disregard the fact that the government has carved out national security exceptions to protect power from disclosures that Snowden made by ensuring that he can be prosecuted, jailed and effectively silenced no matter how he makes disclosures.” They also are perfectly willing to give voice to those in power who support zealous prosecution of these individuals for periods that exceed the length of time they would ever advocate for torturers, war criminals or those who commit felonies in violation of laws intended to protect individual rights and liberty in the United States.

They have no problem with the arrogation of power in the Executive Branch so they will produce journalism intended to rationalize the functions and expansion of the national security state. When confronted by individuals who challenge national security policies and programs, they display unbounded contempt for individuals who they think have arrogated the power to act as truth-tellers and inform the public of information they believe the public has a right to know.

In this case, TIME goes beyond putting these individuals’ personal flaws under a microscope and typecasts them as “the 21st century mole,” who “demands no payments for his secrets.”

Media organizations like TIME are also far too willing to divide and conquer, to choose who is a real whistleblower and who is not based on the public or political reaction. Manning is not a whistleblower, but Ellsberg is a whistleblower. Even though Ellsberg considers Manning a whistleblower, that means nothing because to explore how Manning is a classic whistleblower would be an affront to the establishment and powerful, which they need to maintain access and influence.

If this is how Americans understand these people, not only does it further chill confidential sources who wish to disclose information that is in the public interest to the press, but it effectively curtails the ability of media organizations to perform their role as the Fourth Estate, which is supposed to fulfill a watchdog function and check the power of all branches of government. It enhances the ability of government to manufacture consent for policies and programs that force Americans to give up liberty whenever someone shouts “Terrorist” or claims it is on behalf of national security without any proof whatsoever that it will be required to make the country safer

Finally, the biggest problem is that this is agitprop material masquerading as serious informative journalism. If one is not familiar with the stories of recent whistleblowers or do not understand issues around secrecy, transparency and leaks, the average person is not going to realize that it is disinformation.