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

New York Times media columnist David Carr says a segment on the National Security Agency that ran on CBS’ “60 Minutes” earlier this month “scanned as a friendly infomercial” rather than the hardhitting journalism the show is known for. Carr gave his grim assessment of the show in a column published in Monday’s paper that also focused on “60 Minutes'” retracted October report about the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

“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.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com
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