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Well, that settles that, then: 

Our job this time was to take the hardest questions we could find and ask them, ‘What’s the answer to it,’ and then spend a couple of minutes listening. Because this is really the side of the story that has been mined only in the most superficial ways. We’ve heardplenty from the critics. We’ve heard a lot from Edward Snowden.

Never mind if the critics are correct. Never mind if the critics have a valid point. Never mind if the critics have THINGS TO BE CRITICAL OF. We’ve heard enough from them. We’re done.

We have given them their time, and now we’re giving the NSA its time, and we’ve done our job. So what if nobody learned anything, and the conversation advanced not one bit, and the powerless were treated as less than the great because OMG HOODIES:

The pieces are not terribly complimentary toward Edward Snowden, described by Miller as a “20-something-year-old high school dropout contractor.” Snowden cheated on an exam for NSA employment and worked at home with a hood covering his head and computer screen, an NSA official tells Miller. “That’s pretty strange,” Miller says.

Your job is not to cast aspersions upon his goddamn fashion sense. Plenty of people who are right about everything important are fuckin’ weird. (So are plenty of people who are wrong about everything important, which is why journalism.)

Is there merit in making the NSA confront Snowden’s allegations? Absolutely. Is that what this is? 

Full disclosure, I once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates.

Were there no other reporters available than one who used to work for the director of National Intelligence? With all the out-of-work journalists of great stature and talent in the country? Perhaps no others who’d be allowed into the NSA. Perhaps that’s a story in itself. But no, let’s make sure we jerk off on screen about our legendary access and insidery-ness and other stuff that doesn’t actually mean anything:

Last I checked, this wasn’t a badge of honor. I keep saying the problem with American political reporting today isn’t bias, it’s laziness and stupidity, but for a while now I’ve been forgetting to add ego. Who gives a fuck if someone is the “ultimate insider” if that status doesn’t convey any type of advantage to the viewer? If being the “ultimate insider” results in something more than just flat denials that the NSA is doing anything wrong, what’s the win here if I watch 60 Minutes, for me?

I guess I get to see the ultimate insider. As he makes an analyst solve a Rubik’s Cube:

Many of the cryptologists skipped grades in school, earned masters degrees and PhDs and look more like they belong on a college campus than at the NSA.

Actually, the Rubik’s cube took him one minute and 35 seconds.

John Miller: You know, I didn’t like you before.

For this group, the Rubik’s cube was the easiest problem that day.


Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.