"60 Minutes" was trashed all over Twitter on Sunday night for a two-part story on the NSA which critics dubbed obsequious at best.
The piece was fronted by reporter John Miller, who had to tell viewers this at the top of the segment: "Full disclosure: I once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence, where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates." Miller is also likely set to leave CBS soon to work for the NYPD.
Miller also said that the NSA agreed to speak to "60 Minutes" because it believes it has "not told its story well." It certainly found a comfortable place to do that on CBS News. The 25-minute segment consisted mostly of NSA officials dismissing concerns that their surveillance has gotten out of hand and showing off their gadgetry to the CBS cameras. There were no anti-NSA advocates or civil libertarians interviewed on-camera for the piece.
The last words in the segment came from NSA chief Keith Alexander: "This is precisely the time that we should not step back from the tools that we've given our analysts to detect these types of attacks."
Watch the video:
In a web-only video, producer Ira Rosen said that the NSA had "allowed" itself to be perceived as a "villain."
In his own interview, Miller said the anti-NSA forces have had their chance, and that he wanted to hear what Alexander had to say.
"Our job this time was to take the hardest questions we could find and ask them, ‘What’s the answer to it,’ and then spend a couple of minutes listening," he said.
The criticism came hard and fast:
Wow, the 60 Minutes piece about the NSA was just embarrassing. Kudos to the NSA communications staff. You guys should get a raise.— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) December 16, 2013
If you thought the Lara Logan debacle was new low for @60Minutes, watch last night's NSA whitewash. Not a single skeptical voice.— TimKarr (@TimKarr) December 16, 2013
That 60 Minutes access-for-uncritical-reverence NSA propaganda piece was a new low for US journalism http://t.co/mEx6jzsxv9— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 16, 2013
60 Minutes: From terrible journalism to National Security State stenography, in just a few weeks.— emptywheel (@emptywheel) December 15, 2013
CBS both promoted John Miller as "ultimate insider" and asked him http://t.co/slBm9jiyLi if he was worried about being seen as an insider.— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) December 16, 2013
Surprised by John Miller's embarassing 60 Minutes NSA puff piece? Don't be. His CIA 'exclusive' basically the same http://t.co/yvsaL1iQiM— Peter Hart (@peterfhart) December 16, 2013
Wonder if NSA will also use 60 Minutes to unveil its "special drone delivery" program.— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) December 16, 2013
"NSA Doing Great Job, NSA Says" - 60 Minutes— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) December 16, 2013