'60 Minutes,' Tool of the State?
The New York Times published an unintentionally humorous headline on December 23: âWhen â60 Minutesâ Checks Its Journalistic Skepticism at the Door.â Times media columnist David Carr is suddenly stunned that â60 Minutesâ has aired a puff piece on a serious political matter.
In his article, Carr didnât breathe a word about Steve Kroftâs long history of servile interviews with Barack Obama, most recently in January when he threw softballs at both Obama and Hillary Clinton at the presidentâs request. Carrâs never written about Kroft.
Carr sees â60 Minutesâ as a "journalistic treasure" because it's a rabble-rousing leftist outfit: âFor more than four decades, the program has exposed CIA abuses, rogue military contractors and hundreds of corporate villains.â So he was upset about the December 15 â60 Minutes,â which aired an interview with Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency. He wrote âit was hard to watch the NSA segment and not wonder who was minding the store.â
The interviewer in this case was CBSâs John Miller, who Carr suggested was too close to the subject: âMr. Miller is a former high-ranking official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a former spokesman of the FBI whose worldview is built on going after bad guys and keeping the rest of us safe.â
That must be opposed to the worldview of the New York Times â which is based on being obsessively concerned with the civil liberties of the bad guys at the expense of our safety.
Any critic could watch the NSA segment and see it for what it was: a forum to allow the NSA boss to make his case for their surveillance programs. What's wrong with that? If thatâs inappropriate, why then did Carr not condemn the December 22 â60 Minutes,â which carried a Lesley Stahl softball profile of national security adviser Susan Rice, who is our âwhip-smart....quarterback of American foreign policy.â
Stahl puffed up Rice and her âreputationâ as an âidealistâ who âran into a Benghazi buzzsaw.â Rice was âswept up into the disputeâ over Benghazi. Rice the âidealistâ didnât lie on five Sunday news interviews. Stahl insisted âa former senior intelligence official told us that the talking point that the Benghazi attack was spontaneous was precisely what classified intelligence reports said at the time.â
How in blazes is this less of a powder-puff presentation than Millerâs segment on the NSA? Miller pushed Alexander on how Edward Snowden could steal millions of secret documents: âThis happened on your watch. A twentysomething-year-old high school dropout contractor managed to walk out with, in essence, the crown jewels. Did you offer to resign about the Snowden incident?â The general said yes.
By contrast, Stahl accompanied Rice to her daughterâs Sunday soccer game (to underline portentously that sheâs the first National Security Adviser to be a mom) before they ended with a brief bit on Benghazi. Rice fatuously announced âI donât have time to think about a false controversy.â Stahl could only ask âBut the questions keep coming. I mean, when someone heard that I was going to be talking to you, they said, âYou have to ask her why Hillary Clinton didnât do the interview that morning.â Did she smell trouble?â
Rice claimed Hillary âhad just gone through an incredibly painful and stressful weekâ because she âhad to reach out to the families, had to greet the bodies upon their arrival at Andrews Air Force Base.â When â60 Minutesâ had a chance to ask Hillary why she skipped the Sunday shows, Steve Kroft failed to do so. He only asked her sympathetically if she blamed herself for Benghazi.
Carr, like many liberals, thinks the list of CBS offenses began with its October 27 Benghazi segment with Lara Logan, in which CBS was fooled by Dylan Davies, who claimed to be an eyewitness on the scene of the consulate attack, but he wasnât. That was a serious mistake, an error compounded by a bungled âeyewitness accountâ book deal Davies struck with Simon & Schuster, a corporate cousin of CBS (which they failed to disclose).
Even in the segments Carr hates â the Benghazi segment and the NSA segment -- Obamaâs mostly absent. The name âObamaâ was never uttered in the Benghazi segment, and this was its one mention by Miller: âDo you think [German] Chancellor Merkel hears President Obama's calls?â
So why isnât Carr upset about how Obama doesnât matter, doesnât seem to be president when things go dramatically wrong? Who is âminding the storeâ at CBS on holding Obama accountable? As with Kroft, Carr doesnât care. Obamaâs not the kind of âvillainâ that â60 Minutesâ is supposed to hunt.
The left's formula is simple. If it's a "60 Minutes" investigative hit piece against a conservative, it's journalism. If it's a slobbering puff piece promoting a liberal, it's journalism.