John Oliver’s Monday night interview of Edward Snowden – which in 24 hours has been viewed by 3 million people on YouTube alone – renewed all the standard attacks in Democratic circles accusing Snowden of being a traitor in cahoots with the Kremlin. What’s most striking about this – aside from the utter lack of evidence for any of it – is how identical it is to whatNixon officials said to smear the last generation’s greatest whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg (who is widely regarded by Democrats as a hero because his leak occurred with a Republican in the White House). As The New York Times reported in August 1973:
As the Freedom of the Press Foundation recently noted: in December 1973,The NYT described the origins of Nixon’s “Plumbers Unit” and detailed how much of it was motivated by the innuendo spread by Henry Kissinger that Ellsberg was a covert Soviet operative:
I defy anyone to listen to any Democratic apparatchik insinuate that Snowden is a Russian agent and identify any differences with how Nixon apparatchiks smeared Ellsberg (or, for that matter, how today’s warnings from Obama officials about the grave harm coming from leaksdiffer from the warnings issued by Bush and Nixon officials). The script for smearing never changes – it stays constant over five decades and through the establishments of both parties – and it’s one of the reasons Ellsberg so closely identifies with Snowden and has become one of his most vocal defenders.