First of all, are you the Savodnik from the NPR piece? Because you are clearly looking at this case from a cold war perspective. The claims of Savodnik that "it's likely Snowden has served his purpose in Russia" are strange indeed. There is no basis of information to conclude anything like that, nor if he really has any purpose for the Russians. Whatever data he has on his computers it strongly encrypted, and unless you think Snowden would release truly sensitive data to the Russians, or that he has been tortured to give up this information, the quote is meaningless. And even if one does believe either of these, there is NO evidence to that effect, and it is pure speculation. Not just that but Snowden, if anything, is a pain in the ass for the Russians, and its more likely he isn't serving any truly useful purpose at all. He's only there by accident, and is only staying there due to the fact that the US has blocked his escape to anywhere else.
And its not that bringing up the past amounts to propaganda. Its that bringing up the past, combined with the framing of the piece as Snowden seeking to "defect" to Russia, and absent any acknowledgement that Russia is not the USSR, specifically that it is not on a cold war footing, is propaganda. That they wait until the third to last paragraph to even mention WHY Snowden is in Russia, and end with musings on where he will go next (as if he really has any control over that anymore) is just more proof that they have managed to skew the entire story to make Snowden look like a defecting spy to our cold war enemy. And that IS propaganda. Subtle propaganda, but propaganda. The US media is expert at this garbage.
And the idea that Snowden is responsible for the fact that the sensationalist, propaganda spewing, jingoistic US media has focused on him instead of his revelations is severely flawed. What exactly could he have done to "force an overdue debate"? If he had allowed himself to be captured he would've become invisible, and his story would've disappeared from the MSM that much faster. The US media, just like the US government, has no interest in having a real debate about these issues at all, despite the insistence of the president that he "welcomes" said debate. How can there be a debate when one party holds all the information and continues to dissemble and mislead us about its activities? And how can there be a debate when we have a media that is in fawning obeisance to the security apparatus it is supposed to be questioning? To blame this sad state of affairs on Snowden is baseless and ridiculous.