Ever since Edward Snowden’s revelations first appeared, the story has been spun for position by every last clueless pundit, and they don’t come much more clueless than at the bear pit that is Telegraph Blogs, where Damian “Bad Omen” Thompson presides over a fever of speculation, Obama-bashing, and Guardian baiting. Sometimes he and his pals manage to combine all three.
Thompson, along with his colleague Tim Stanley, who you can call as he’s a doctor, kicked off their Snowden-a-Thon earlier this month, agreeing that it was all A Very Bad Thing for Barack Obama, which by the happiest of coincidences is what their editor and readers wanted to hear – rather than the reality, which was that Obama was not going to be driven out of the White House any day soon.
“Edward Snowden has blown the whistle on this presidency. You have to wonder: Will Obama see out his full term?” asked Thompson, in Ron Hopeful mode, to which the answer at the moment looks like “yes”. Stanley added “Edward Snowden has exposed both the ambition and the incompetence of Obama's security state”, which was more to his readers’ liking than mentioning “Dubya” Bush.
Yes, the snooping had ramped up under the previous administration, and had Obama even looked like he was going to roll it back, the righteous right would have been down on him like the proverbial tonne of bricks. Then Stanley remembered that it is also his duty to lay into the Guardian: “Is Edward Snowden's story unravelling? Why the Guardian's scoop is looking a bit dodgy” he proffered, dutifully.
Then Snowden left Hong Kong, and looked as if he would evade the USA’s grasp, so Stanley was off again: “Edward Snowden flees to Ecuador – a country that's cracking down on press freedom. His tyranny tour has undermined his cause”. Except he hasn’t fled to Ecuador, and is still, as far as is known, in Moscow. Or in transit while in Moscow. And there it all stopped – until Murdoch arrived on the scene.
Yes, now the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has opened up a front against the Guardian, and in particular against Glenn Greenwald, trying to accuse the latter of being part of a pre-planned conspiracy. “Edward Snowden 'was helped to steal state secrets', says Wall Street Journal. Guardian's Greenwald explodes. It's all kicking off now” gurgled Thompson enthusiastically – note the single quotes.
What Damian Thompson cannot see is that the WSJ, since its purchase by Rupert Murdoch, has become partisan, cheap and downmarket in turn, and that with its new owner facing FCPA suits and phone hacking claims Stateside, joining in on the side of his adoptive homeland will help his cause no end. Thompson and Stanley were wrong on their Obama speculation, and wrong about the Guardian’s story.
Now they’re wrong about why the WSJ is piling in. Do try and keep up, chaps.