Greenwald, Others Denounce CBS "60 Minutes' Story on NSA

Monday, 16 Dec 2013 12:40 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Journalist Glenn Greenwald, to whom National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden disclosed many of the agency's surveillance secrets, joined other journalists and viewers Sunday night to denounce CBS for its "60 Minutes" profile on the NSA.

The 25-minute segment aired Sunday night was reported by senior correspondent John Miller, who offered a disclaimer that he is a former employee of the director of National Intelligence and has worked with the FBI. His disclaimer was followed by interviews with NSA officials, who dismissed any concerns that their surveillance programs are out of control, despite stunning revelations still being disclosed by Snowden.



"60 Minutes forgot to ask about how James Clapper & Keith Alexander routinely lied to Congress & FISA courts," Greenwald complained on Twitter Sunday in a series of tweets protesting the segment.



"That 60 Minutes access-for-uncritical-reverence NSA propaganda piece was a new low for US journalism," he messaged at one point.



Greenwald wasn't the only journalist complaining about the NSA story.

Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, commented, via, Twitter: "Hey, young people: Believe it or not, "60 Minutes" once stood for solid, deep, important journalism. I know, that sounds absurd now."



"I take it for granted that NSA chiefs will exaggerate and lie. I still can't take it for granted when a once-great journalism org buys it," he said.



There were no NSA detractors included in the 25-minute segment, Gizmodo's Jamie Condliffe noted in a column on Monday. Instead, he said, the piece consisted of NSA officials dismissing the scandal and "showing off their gadgetry" to the CBS news cameras.

Miller, who the New York Post reports is leaving CBS for a position with the New York Police Department under new commissioner Bill Bratton, dismissed Snowden during the broadcast as being a "20-something-year-old high school dropout contractor," a statement that drew anger from watchers.

Miller said the NSA agreed to the "60 Minutes" interview because the agency believes it has "not told its story well." But critics said the resulting story painted a too-glowing picture of the NSA and how it's responding to disclosures about phone and email surveillance.

"There was lots of rhetoric about 'not collecting everybody's email . . . not collecting everybody's phone things," complained Condliffe. "But then, the NSA was never accused of listening in to phone calls. It did, however, collect metadata from every phone call placed within the United States, a follow-up point conveniently not raised."

Miller, however, insisted in a follow-up interview with "60 Minutes Overtime" producer Ann Silvio that he didn't want the segment to be a "puff piece" and that he thinks "we asked the hardest questions we could ask," reports The Poynter Institute.



Miller told Silvio that the American public has "heard plenty from the critics. We’ve heard a lot from Edward Snowden. Where there’s been a distinctive shortage is, putting the NSA to the test and saying not just, ‘We called for comment today,’ but to get into the conversation and say, 'That sounds a lot like spying on Americans,' and then say, ‘Well, explain that.’”

The latest criticism against the "60 Minutes" just a few weeks after the television news magazine was lambasted on social media and by experts for its piece about Amazon's plans to use drones for small package deliveries.

That segment aired the night before Cyber Monday, leading critics to complain that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos was able to get the news program to feature what was, in essence, a 14-minute "free ad" for the nation's largest online retailer, reports The Huffington Post.

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