60 Minutes Offers Thoroughly One-Sided Look at NSA Scandal. Guess Which Side.

Access is awesome! Don't ruin it with pointed questions!


"Your campaign has the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?"
"60 Minutes"

So are any of those conservative media critics going to file FCC complaints against 60 Minutes for the 20-minute blowjob correspondent John Miller performed Sunday evening on Gen. Keith Alexander and other National Security Agency leaders?

For those who missed it (perhaps, like me, they had recently discovered French horror-mystery series The Returned and were watching the marathon on the Sundance Channel), 60 Minutes ran not one, but two full segments about the NSA's data collection and Edward Snowden scandals, told entirely from the NSA's perspective and with absolutely no critical voices.

Some lowlights:

  • The poor "We are not reading your e-mails/listening to your phone calls" straw man is set on fire yet again. The guy is just ash by now. The explanation of the "metadata" the NSA collects is purposefully vague, giving viewers the very false impression that the only information the NSA gets is just literal phone numbers and call durations.
  • Miller brings up the Foreign Information Surveillance Court rulings indicating that the NSA has in the past overstepped its boundaries and collected data it shouldn't collect. Gen. Alexander deflects the question by stating that these were mistakes and were not "willful." No mention is made of other privacy violations by NSA agents that were indeed willful.
  • NSA officials seem to believe that they have stopped China from destroying the world's computers with a virus, thereby preventing widespread economic chaos. While the Chinese government and military are no doubt engaging in all sorts of cyber-espionage, there's no explanation as to why exactly China — a leading exporter — of all countries would try to destroy the world's economy.
  • Edward Snowden is dismissed as some sort of weirdo. NSA's investigation of him after the fact determined that he cheated (via hacking) to pass the test to get his contractor position, which you'd think was something that should mark him as an up-and-comer, given the agency. He also covered up his computer at home so his girlfriend couldn't see what he was working on, which everybody on camera seems to think is crazypants and not something a person whose job involves looking at classified data might do.
  • At the outset Miller discloses that he used to work for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA. Disclosing past relationships is good, but recognizing when such relationships absolutely ruin the possibility of your objectivity and therefore stepping back, is even better. But then, would 60 Minutes have gotten this scoop without Miller? It was the NSA who approached 60 Minutes to do this story, not the other way around. Miller is also rumored to be leaving the network soon to go work for the NYPD.

The 60 Minutes reports can be viewed here. The entire charade smacks yet again of the administration thinking that all of its problems are due to poor "messaging," not due to any actual legitimate concerns by the populace. More criticism of the segments may be found here and here.