What Is Edward Snowden's End Game?

Tuesday, 25 Jun 2013 09:48 AM

By Jon Friedman

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For now, Edward Snowden has it all, it seems — fame, cachet, global significance, and the worldwide media hanging on his every word. In the media parlance of our time, to describe a phenomenon, Snowden is, put simply, a Rock Star.
That's today. 
It's likely, though, that his aura soon will begin to fade, till he becomes an answer to 7-across in the New York Times' crossword puzzle or a feature in a future version of Trivial Pursuit. ("He caused a furor by disclosing the NSA government-snooping scandal in the United States in 2013" — seven letters.) 
If he's really lucky, he'll eventually wind up as the Daily Double on "Jeopardy!"
Snowden must be feeling pretty proud of himself. Not only has he caused mayhem, but he has become the center of attention and a media darling to boot. Everyone knows his name. As they say in those commercials, he is "The Most Interesting Man in the World."
Even if you loathe Snowden and his methods, you've got to hand it to him. He's a sensation.
But this sort of fame tends to go away. Just ask his patron, Julian Assange, about it. Not too long ago, Assange was being mentioned as Time Person of the Year, among other media accolades. Yes, Julian Assange was indeed a media sensation.
Now, Assange is an afterthought in the public conversation. He failed to have the sort of staying power that distinguishes a true cause celebre; it's a little like comparing a Kardashian, a stand-in for the real media celebs, to the Madonna ilk.
Meanwhile, Snowden sure looked cool as his plane landed Sunday in Moscow, en route to presumably Ecuador, where he will continue his life as a media celebrity. But media sensations who live in Ecuador tend not to have long-lasting fame.
Journalists will move on. They will wait impatiently for Snowden to top his last exploit — a difficult act. The media machine must be fed constantly. If you want to remain a relevant celebrity today and tomorrow, you must give journalists fresh news all the time. 
Can Edward Snowden muster the kind of resourcefulness that the media love?
It won't be easy — especially from Ecuador.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.


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