Friday, December 27, 2013

the revolving door presstitution of john miller


firedoglake | More than six months after stories on documents from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden began to appear, the NSA finally determined all the statements denying what had revealed or intended to clarify what the agency believed to be true and not true had not had the effect desired. Journalists continue to publish stories on the NSA, its capabilities, what information from Americans is being collected and how unchecked the agency’s powers happen to be. What has been revealed has had an impact on the public that has changed the way many Americans view the NSA. The agency may, as a result, have some of its surveillance powers curtailed.

It was time to call up John Miller of CBS’s “60 Minutes” program. As was stated in the two-part segment on the NSA, “Gen. Alexander agreed to talk to us because he believes the NSA has not told its story well.” So, the agency called up Miller to help “set the record straight” i.e. assist the NSA with its public relations issues.

Nobody quite represents the “revolving door” between journalism and government like Miller. “Full disclosure, I once worked in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence [ODNI] where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates,” he said before the segment began.

More disclosure: Miller served as spokesperson for the New York Police Department in 1994. The “journalism bug bit him again,” according to Men’s Journal, so he left the NYPD and worked a network job for ABC News. He interviewed Osama bin Laden for ABC News in 1998 before going to work for the Los Angeles Police Department in 2003. He helped “establish the department’s counter-terrorism and criminal-intelligence bureau.” He also worked on the development of a “threat assessment system” called “Archangel” to protect “critical assets” in Los Angeles from terrorism.
He moved on to work as a public affairs officer for the FBI in 2005. Then, he worked for ODNI. When he grew tired of the bureaucracy at ODNI, he was hired by CBS as a senior correspondent in 2011.

Miller has engaged in some of the same kind of work as Alexander. He is unlikely to challenge those he interviews because they are the exact people he may want to work with after he gets tired of journalism again. This makes him someone with a huge glaring conflict of interest, but, for CBS News, that conflict of interest is a plus, and, when he produces segments for news programs like “60 Minutes,” the show does not see what he produces as propaganda because they value access more than investigative reporting that might actually hold officials accountable.

“It is often said NSA stands for ‘never say anything,’ but tonight the agency breaks with that tradition to address serious questions about whether the NSA delves too far into the lives of Americans,” Miller declared before the beginning of the two-part segment.

Alexander has been coming before Senate and House committees for months now to “break with tradition.” Some congressmen and senators have chosen to ask serious questions. Some have chosen to ask “serious questions.” Programs like “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos have had Alexander on to ask “serious questions.” He spread fear that terrorists were changing tactics because of stories on documents from Snowden in an interview with NBC News’ Pete Williams at the Aspen Institute. “60 Minutes” wasn’t blazing new ground by asking him questions that he would be allowed to unequivocally deny without challenge.