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NYT's Carr: '60 Minutes' NSA Segment Was A 'Friendly Infomercial'

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"Historically, the news that '60 Minutes' was in the lobby or on the phone has struck fear in the hearts of both the stalwart and the venal. The show made its targets quake and audiences thrill as it did the hard, often amazing work of creating consequence and accountability," Carr wrote. "But in the last few months, there have been significant lapses into credulousness, when reporters have been more 'gee whiz' than 'what gives?' The news that '60 Minutes' is calling could be viewed as less ominous and more of an opportunity. More than once this year, the show has traded skepticism for access."

Carr specifically criticized "60 Minutes" for assigning reporter John Miller, a former official with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and FBI spokesman, to do the NSA story.

"On what planet is it fine for someone like Mr. Miller, a former federal law enforcement official, to be the one to do a big segment on a major government security agency?" wrote Carr. "Mr. Miller got the story because the N.S.A. said yes to his pitch — why would it not? — but other journalists at “60 Minutes” without his potential conflicts were interested as well."