1 May 2016

Slightly more Americans see Edward Snowden as a traitor rather than hero


Slightly more Americans – by 29% to 25% – think Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency “whistleblower”, who currently lives in Moscow, is a “traitor” than think he is a “hero”. We tested the issue with YouGov’s First Verdict panel after the trailer for Oliver Stone’s movie about Mr Snowden was released. The trailer can be viewed here and the movie hits silver screens across the world from September. As the Sydney Morning Herald has already noted, “Judging by the action-packed trailer, Snowden, who is still hiding in Russia three years after he exposed the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, will be portrayed as something of an action hero compelled to do the right thing.” Given Mr Stone’s record of anti-establishment movies, the depiction of Mr Snowden is no surprise and with 45% of the YouGov panel choosing not to recognise Snowden as a hero or traitor the film could help to sway some undecided minds.

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If US citizens are divided on Mr Snowden’s hero or villain status then they’re pretty much agreed that neither he nor the people behind Wikileaks created a more open Uncle Sam. Only 6% think the US government has become more transparent; 43% actually think it has become more secretive and 42% don’t see any change;
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And, the third question to the First Verdict panel, concerned one of the quotes from Oliver Stone’s theatrical trailer. “Most Americans” – it is said – “don’t want freedom, they want security”. 48% of panellists begged to differ, answering that they prioritised freedom and only 11% agreed that security was most important to them. 38% found it an impossible question to answer.
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For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

For the complete Portrait of America catalog, click here.

Tim Montgomerie is Editor of Portrait of America