01/22/2014 08:11 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Sunday Shows Asked Pretty Weak Questions About Incendiary Snowden Claims


In a new interview with the New Yorker, Edward Snowden called out the Sunday morning shows for the way they handled politicians' claims that he was working for the Russian government, prompting at least one Sunday morning host to protest that he had pushed back at those claims. A look at the questions the Sunday hosts actually asked, though, shows that they were pretty feeble.

Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein, head of the House and Senate intelligence committees, respectively, both made headlines for speculating that Snowden was working for the Russians or some other foreign power. Rogers made the claim on both "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation."

Snowden told the New Yorker's Jane Mayer that the claims were false, but he also said media outlets were "[reporting] statements that the speakers themselves admit are sheer speculation" and were "abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account."

ABC's George Stephanopoulos told Mayer that he had asked multiple followup questions of his congressional guest, Michael McCaul, and gotten "as much as the congressman was going to give up."

These were Stephanopoulos's followup questions:

"The Russians?"

"That's a pretty serious charge, sir. Which foreign power do you believe cultivated Edward Snowden?"

Bob Schieffer's followup questions to Rogers were:

"Why did you say that?"

"You said that some of the things -- some of the things that took place after he left adds to your suspicion. Tell us what you can about that."

David Gregory's followup questions to Rogers and Feinstein were:

"You think the Russians helped Ed Snowden?"

"That's a significant development if it's true."

"And do you agree with Chairman Rogers that he may have had help from the Russians?"

"Is it critical, then, to get to the bottom? And will you investigate who might have been involved and whether there was any link to the Russians?"

At no point did any of the hosts note, as the New York Times did on Wednesday, that "Officials at both the N.S.A. and the F.B.I. have said their investigations have turned up no evidence that Mr. Snowden was aided by others." Nor did they ask the hosts for any concrete proof beyond their speculation.