The massive media interest in Mandela is a remarkable tribute to a very special man who helped undo apartheid while thrilling the world with his courage as the prisoner who became a President.
It's been said that Mandela has become, after Coca-Cola, the second best known brand in the world so perhaps the media focus is understandable given his high approval numbers and status in the pantheon of liberators. What other ailing political leader gets this kind of sustained attention?
Widely accepted heroes in the world are in short supply these days as we can see also from the media treatment of whistleblower Edward Snowden who many also view as a hero ---a majority of those surveyed--while, curiously, a majority of the media punditocracy takes a more cynical view.
Many of our "thought leaders" ask if he isn't really a traitor to be prosecuted rather than an information liberator to be hailed.
Clearly these two stories are very different, but there are some parallels that almost no one in the media commented on.
Both men are heroes to those who believe in freedom--the right to be free from racist laws in one case, and onerous spying in another.
Both men stood up against the powers to be. One was prosecuted and jailed; the other soon may be.
One was a radical movement and political liberation fighter. The other is more the loner and electronic liberation guerrilla, but now seen a part of a loose anarchistic affinity network that includes Bradley Manning, Wikileaks, Anonymous and many politically conscious hactivists.
We can't forget that Mandela was branded a terrorist for years, and hidden from media view. He was tried for treason, and aquitted in a widely consdemned trial that in retrospect may have been fairer that the ones Manning and his band of brothers faces.