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The Sad Decline of ‘60 Minutes’ Continues With This Week’s NSA Whitewash | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

The Sad Decline of ‘60 Minutes’ Continues With This Week’s NSA Whitewash

Screenshot of NSA epsiode

Screenshot from 60 Minutes' recent episode on the NSA.

The sad decline and fall of 60 Minutes has been a long time coming, but now it is nearly complete. Just in recent months: the horrid hit on Americans with disabilities, the Lara Logan affair, and now tonight’s whitewash of NSA (and bonus slam vs. Edward Snowden), hosted by longtime FBI/police/NSA propagandist John Miller.  Good night and good luck!

Here’s the complete transcript of tonight’s show. It’s got something to offend everyone. All that’s missing is an Amazon drone delivering a package of listening devices to an NSA agent in the field.  Here's a much-needed and valuable factcheck from Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian.   Good review at The Atlantic’s Wire highlights the NSA "minders" preventing any tough questions that might have been asked. Marcy Wheeler says John Miller should take that police job again and never work in journalism again.   Also don't miss Kevin Gosztola with more on Miller's "revolving door journalism."

And in this interview, Miller explains his motivation: "Because this is really the side of the story that has been mined only in the most superficial ways./ We've heard plenty [emphasis his] from critics" of NSA.

[UPDATE:   A Federal District judge ruled on Monday that the NSA's massive collection of phone records is likely unconstitutional.]

The response on Twitter and elsewhere on the Web to the 60 Minutes puff piece was swift and savagely negative. Glenn Greenwald tweets: “60 Minutes forgot to ask about how James Clapper & Keith Alexander routinely lied to Congress & FISA courts—just ran out of time.” And: “60 Minutes producer gushing about his NSA access: ‘It was like Star Trek…. My favorite room was the Black Chamber!’ ”   Later he called it and "access-for-uncritical-reverence NSA propaganda piece" that  "was a new low for US journalism."

From other key media observers. Dave Itzkoff of the NYT: “NSA Doing Great Job, NSA Says—60 Minutes.”   Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker: “Wow, the 60 Minutes piece about the NSA was just embarrassing. Kudos to the NSA communications staff. You guys should get a raise.”  Jeff Jarvis: “For shame, , for shame…. CBS just *bragged* that John Miller is ‘the ultimate insider.’ Yes, he just demonstrated that!”  

The great Amy Davidson at The New Yorker:  "Quick pivot on @60minutes from Snowden character-trashing to how NSA will save us all from cyber attacks...Oy, --still waiting for a tough question, follow-up for General Alexander..."   Will Bunch posted a photo of Edward R. Murrow with this comment:  "Next on -- a special report on a man who's actually spinning in his grave."

John McQuaid of Forbes:  "Would love to see a transcript of CBS-NSA negotiations over that 60 Minutes story. What journalistic prerogatives did CBS agree to give up?"   Carne Ross: “Hadn’t realized now does infomercials…. Where the hell is Lowell Bergman when u need him? Oh yes, he quit at the end of the movie.” Jay Rosen: “This ‘60 Minutes’ report on the NSA is… TV. That’s not a compliment.”

Andy Greenberg: “This 60 Minutes episode has been a pretty good infomercial for the NSA so far. Did anyone catch that 1-800 number so I can order?” Xeni Jardin: “Remember when 60 Minutes was where people looked for quality journalism?” The official WikiLeaks feed: “60 minutes and NSA pair up to strike back on leaks; character assassinate .”

Greg Mitchell has written more than a dozen books about famous political campaigns, WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, the media and Iraq,  nuclear cover-ups, Beethoven's Ninth, and more.

Read Next: Peter van Buren asks if Google and the NSA could actually make whistleblowers disappear. 

 

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