Local Commentary

Editorial: The Post’s Pulitzer

Sincere congratulations to our newspaper rival The Washington Post for the well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for Public Service it was awarded Monday for its role, along with the The Guardian U.S., in disseminating and following up on reports leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden concerning the staggering overreach of U.S. national security surveillance into the private lives of almost every suspicionless American.

The Post seems more feisty these days, in general, as evidenced by its editorial in yesterday’s edition entitled, “Lurching to the Right: In Virginia’s 10th District, a Battle Over Who is the Most Hard-Line Conservative.” Taking the gloves off assailing the battle of the half-dozen GOP candidates vying to “out-conservative” each other to win their party nomination in the 10th District to replace retiring Rep. Frank Wolf, the Post lands hardest on State Del. Barbara Comstock of McLean.

Saying she has stretched the truth “to wrap herself in the mantle of Rush Limbaugh,” who it describes as “a vicious polemicist with a flair for toxic misogyny,” The Post calls Comstock “among the most conservative lawmakers in Richmond,” citing chapter and verse, it accuses her of “jockeying to appeal to the most extreme fringe of the electorate.”

Of course, its possible The Post was trying in a backhanded way to rally GOP extremists to support her against her rival, the man who epitomizes Virginia extremism, State Del. Bob Marshall of Prince William. Should Marshall, the known fringer, win, it would improve the Democratic candidate John Foust’s chances of turning the district from Red to Blue in November. For that reason, nose-counting Republicans should much prefer Comstock in the upcoming primary.

But we give The Post the benefit of the doubt here, by virtue of its Pulitzer. The cumulative effect of what Snowden, Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian U.S., documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, The Post team of 28 reporters led by Barton Gellman and others have done over the past year has been to throw a massive light into very dark places and uncover what Greenwald has called “a system of mass surveillance constructed in the dark.”

The credibility of this courageous journalistic effort has skyrocketed over the past year, due in large part to the willingness of The Post, The New York Times and others to fully air and follow through on Snowden’s revelations. Indeed, the efforts have risen to the level of Pulitzer Prize winning stuff, and in a very short time.

While some may be wondering why National Security chief James Clapper is not in jail by now for lying to Congress, the process has only begun to reveal the full extent of this NSA “ambition to eliminate privacy, period,” Greenwald said in a George Polk Awards press conference in New York Monday.

Among other things, the bravery of all these reporters is giving courage of many others to step forward and engage the fight themselves. It deserves our collective respect and admiration.