NBC Touts 'Defiant' Edward Snowden Telling Wired Magazine: 'I Feel Like A Patriot'

On Wednesday, NBC's Today devoted a nearly four-minute segment to promoting a fawning interview that Wired magazine conducted with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Despite introducing the story by labeling Snowden as "the man U.S. officials have called a traitor and a coward," co-host Willie Geist went on to proclaim: "Out from the shadows...in front of the flashbulbs. Appearing at times exhausted, at times defiant..." [Listen to the audio]

With a musical score playing throughout the segment that made it sound like an action movie, a sound bite ran of Snowden declaring: "My name is Ed Snowden. I used to work for the government and now I work for the public." Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich explained the magazine's cover photo showing Snowden draped in an American flag: "He came in actually quite nervous to the shoot. And he said, 'I love my country, I feel like a patriot.' And it was at that moment that we knew that we had the cover."

Geist highlighted that interviewer Jim Bamford "blew the whistle on the NSA years ago himself" and "had unprecedented access, recently spending three days with Snowden in Moscow."

More audio clips were featured of Snowden making arrogant pronouncements:

Our generation is facing a time where governments around the world are questioning whether or not individuals can be trusted with the power of technology. And while I don't know the answer to that question, what I do know is that governments shouldn't be the ones to decide. We should....I gave this information back to public hands to give you back a choice about the country you want to live in.

Geist wrapped up the report by noting: "Snowden told Wired he wants to come home to the United States and would even volunteer for prison, he says, as long as it served the right purpose."

Fill-in co-host Natalie Morales described the interview as "very provocative" and fellow co-host Matt Lauer observed: "No question, some people who are already angry at Edward Snowden, even more angry after seeing that photo."

In contrast to Today's "exclusive" interview with Snowden's interviewers, Wednesday's CBS This Morning offered a twenty-five-second news brief on the topic from fill-in co-host Jane Pauley [Listen to the audio]:

Wired magazine brings us a new interview with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Take a look at the cover. It shows Snowden cradling the American flag, a prop he chose to use for the photo. Snowden told the crew he worried people might be angry seeing him hold Old Glory in the picture, but he says it means a lot to him because he still loves his country.

As Pauley read the brief, an audible gasp of disgust came from co-host Norah O'Donnell, who followed up by wondering: "Are there going to be tomatoes thrown at newsstands?"

ABC's Good Morning America did not cover Snowden's sit-down with Wired.

In the first network interview with Snowden in May, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams asked if the wanted fugitive was "disappointed" by President Obama.

Here is a full transcript of the August 13 segment on Today:

7:42 AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: Back now at 7:42 with NSA leaker Edward Snowden speaking out again today, fresh off a three-year extension of his stay in Russia. And we're now seeing these provocative new pictures of him in the new issue of Wired magazine. And Willie sat down exclusively with the Wired team that met with Snowden in Moscow. Willie, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Stars, Stripes & Snowden; Draped In Flag for Controversial Magazine Cover]

WILLIE GEIST: Yeah, this cover photo behind me, revealed here for the very first time, is going to get a lot of attention. This is the man U.S. officials have called a traitor and a coward, wrapping himself in the American flag. That even as he extends his stay in Putin's Russia.

Out from the shadows...

EDWARD SNOWDEN: My name is Ed Snowden. I used to work for the government and now I work for the public.

GEIST: ...in front of the flashbulbs. Appearing at times exhausted, at times defiant, wearing a bouncer's t-shirt. [To Scott Dadich] Did you feel like he took a different tact in making this a little bit more about himself in your piece than he has previously?

SCOTT DADICH [EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WIRED MAGAZINE]: He came in actually quite nervous to the shoot. And he said, "I love my country, I feel like a patriot." And it was at that moment that we knew that we had the cover.

GEIST: Wired writer Jim Bamford, who says he blew the whistle on the NSA years ago himself, had unprecedented access, recently spending three days with Snowden in Moscow.

BAMFORD: There was a bit of intrigue there because I didn't know when, where, or how I was gonna meet with him.

DADICH: I received a phone call at my hotel room and it was Ed. And he knocked about fifteen minutes later.

GEIST: So what's it like to open your door and see who you call the man who knows too much?

DADICH: It's a remarkable moment.

GEIST: Snowden told Wired of a top secret NSA program called "Monstermind," first revealed here, which automatically retaliates to cyber attacks from foreign countries.

BAMFORD: And if you just turn around and automatically fire back, you may be starting an accidental war.

GEIST: Wired released new audio recordings of its time with Snowden.

SNOWDEN: Our generation is facing a time where governments around the world are questioning whether or not individuals can be trusted with the power of technology. And while I don't know the answer to that question, what I do know is that governments shouldn't be the ones to decide. We should.

GEIST: Snowden disputes that he took 1.7 million documents, as the government alleges, saying the number is much smaller. And he wouldn't comment on recent reports that he has inspired other leakers.

BAMFORD: There is another Snowden out there some place. The question is whether he's still in there, whether he's out, whether NSA is looking for him.

GEIST: Snowden says he left a trail of digital bread crumbs to show the NSA exactly what he took from an internal server, but the NSA missed the clues. "I figured they would have a hard time," Snowden told Wired. "I didn't figure they would be completely incapable."

BAMFORD: He had access to material well beyond top secret. Way over most anybody's head at NSA.

SNOWDEN: I gave this information back to public hands to give you back a choice about the country you want to live in.

GEIST: Snowden told Wired he wants to come home to the United States and would even volunteer for prison, he says, as long as it served the right purpose. For its part, the NSA told us, "If Mr. Snowden wants to discuss his activities, that conversation should be held with the U.S. Department of Justice. He needs to return to the United States to face the charges against him."

As for that cover photograph, a lot of people are going to be talking about it today, guys. The famed photographer Platon took these photographs that you'll see inside Wired magazine. He brought some props with him, showed him [Snowden] the American flag, and says Ed Snowden said, "Yes, give me the flag."

MORALES: Very provocative.

MATT LAUER: There's also a response online. No question, some people who are already angry at Edward Snowden, even more angry after seeing that photo. Willie, thank you.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.