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Context free reporting

As anyone can probably tell by the endless links to the site, i regularly read TalkingPointsMemo for my political "news". Unfortunately TPM produces a lot more content than in the early days and a lot of it is more just repeating what some politician said without adding any of the context or analysis that made it a regular site for me in the first place. And which is supposed to be the main distinction between a website like TPM and your basic network news or an AP wire article.

There are also things i disagree with founder Josh Marshall about, one of which being Edward Snowden. Which is fine; i'm happy to hear other perspectives.

But it gets weird when i suspect those two things meet. So for example, compare this TPM post about Hilary Clinton saying that "It's Up To Snowden If He Returns To U.S. For Trial" to the Guardian article that is the source of those quotes. What you'll notice is that the Guardian article has additional information like:

Snowden, who is currently in Russia where he has been afforded temporary asylum, has been charged with three separate violations of the US Espionage Act. These charges include stealing government property and sharing classified documents with the Guardian and the Washington Post.

The broadly worded law makes no distinction between a spy and a whistleblower and affords Snowden almost no recourse to a defence.

The former NSA employee is likely to face a number of additional charges should he return to the US.

When Clinton was asked if she believed the Espionage Act - passed in 1917 - should be reformed in order to allow Snowden a defence, she claimed not to know what the whistleblower had been charged with as they were "sealed indictments".

Whereas the TPM article just reports Clinton's statements as if they are the be all, end all of the matter. That may just be a matter of simplification reflecting that TPM is turning more into a wire service than an analysis site, but when combined with what i know to be Marshall's position on the matter it seems like they are quoting Clinton approvingly. Even best case scenario it seems like TPM is becoming a stenographer, just reporting what politicians say, and that's been one of the main criticisms of mainstream press that internet sites like TPM were supposed to be the cure for.

On a related note, here's a post from Kevin Drum about someone trying to declassify documents through "proper channels".

By fnord12 | July 5, 2014, 12:44 PM | Liberal Outrage