This week's special on the NSA from CBS's "60 Minutes" was a complete disaster. Conducted by a former US bureaucrat who'd overseen NSA activities and who is about to take a job working for NYPD intelligence (where he'd previously worked, in a scandal-haunted stint punctuated by liberal use of falsehoods), it was a total failure of journalistic integrity, filled with softball questions and straw-men, and lacking in commentary from a single NSA critic. This is a new low for 60 Minutes and CBS as a news entity. Mike Masnick has detailed analysis.
The reporting was conducted by John Miller, a former intelligence community official (who worked for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA) in a spokesperson role and a variety of historical roles in the intelligence community. While he does "disclose" the ODNI role upfront (but not the others), he left out that he's about to be hired in an intelligence role for the NYPD, a deal that has been described as "a 99.44 percent done deal." Also, in the past, when he also worked for the NYPD, he had a bit of a problem with telling the truth. Miller is, clearly, an intelligence industry spokesperson at heart, pretending to be a journalist here.
There was not a single hard hitting question asked throughout. It was all softballs. Seriously. Many of the setup questions were the same bogus strawmen we've seen the NSA focus on in the past -- concerning things like "is the NSA listening to everyone's calls." But that isn't what people are actually concerned about. At no point did they appear to even attempt to ask followup questions when the NSA people made clearly misleading statements, such as those concerning the surveillance of "US persons."
Not a single critic of the NSA was shown during the entire episode. Seriously. Not a single claim by the NSA was refuted or pushed back on. At all. Basically, Miller served up softballs, the NSA hit 'em back, and the "investigative journalists" at 60 Minutes said, "Wow, isn't that amazing!"