In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Ben, Bob, and Chez discuss Snowden's newly granted asylum in Russia, coverage of the Manning verdict and Anthony Weiner's next gig!
1. Now that Edward Snowden's been released into the wild in Russia, how long before we start seeing evidence that our state secrets are being exploited by that country's government?
Ben: Interesting questions Phil. I'm sure the Russian government is going to press him for information - there's no way they'd pass up the opportunity. I'm sure the Kremlin calculated that the information they could get out of him outweighed diplomatic damage caused by giving him asylum. I don't necessarily thing Snowden is a bad guy, but he's not exactly helping his cause by hanging out in a country with a horrific record on freedom of speech and tolerating dissent.
Chez: My guess is you won't really see evidence of it. It'll basically happen without most of us ever knowing it. But if you think Snowden's not going to help out his "friends" -- either willingly or unwillingly -- you're delusional. Despite his occasional protestations, he has no love for the United States and obviously no respect for the idea of its national security.
Bob: Two of the best experts on NSA and Russia, former NSA analyst John Schindler and Vanity Fair editor Kurt Eichenwald, both strongly believe that Russia acquired the contents of Snowden's laptops. I think it's entirely possible that China and Russia have some of Snowden's goodies. But of course there's no way of knowing for sure just yet.
2. What do you think about the level of media coverage the Bradley Manning verdict got? Jeremy Scahill excoriated the mainstream press for all but ignoring it. Do you agree?
Chez: I actually do think the trial deserved more coverage from a strictly historical perspective. No matter what side you take in the whole thing, it's a very big story and it deserved to not get the brush off. I think Scahill's sanctimony gets old fast, but he's right when he points out that much heavier coverage is given to stories -- trails in particular -- that matter a lot less. Maybe if Manning had killed his lover or had actually demanded sexual reassignment surgery.
Bob: It didn't get enough coverage by the mainstream TV news media. But of course where I hang out online I saw coverage of Manning all over the place, and I believe print media had ongoing coverage. It's just not the sort of thing that banks a lot of attention on cable news. Not sure exactly why.
Ben: It was ridiculous. A friend of mine who works as a presenter on a mainstream outlet (who will remain anonymous) told me that their producer has pulled the plug on her plans to report on the Bradley Manning trial on numerous occasions. Regardless of what you think about it, it was a very, very important story about how the United States deals with whistleblowers.
3. What will Anthony Weiner's next job be?
Bob: Congressman. Seriously.
Chez: Last time I checked there were still a couple of peep shows operating in the Times Square area on the Hell's Kitchen side. He'd make a great attendant.
Ben: I did a post on that last week with 6 good options for Weiner. I've actually reconsidered and would like to add another option - going to Japan and doing weird fetish porn on the Tokyo subway. Weiner could get his weiner out all day long riding the capitals public transport system, shocking teenage girls and getting slapped in the process. The Japanese would probably tolerate it because Weiner would be a foreigner, and he could become a major attraction while satiating his desire to flash young women. It's a win-win situation.