State Department 'Planted' Anti-Wikileaks Questions For 60 Minutes Interview With Julian Assange

from the nice-of-them dept

The latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails have been revealed, and Trevor Timm, the Executive Director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, points us to a particularly interesting one, in which then State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley tells Clinton that the State Department has successfully "planted" questions for the show, 60 Minutes, to ask Assange.
Indeed, if you watch the interview, the reporter, Steve Kroft, regularly repeats State Department talking points -- often prefaced with the sort of weak journalistic hedging "there are people who believe..."

Of course, this is not the first time 60 Minutes has been seen to be extra deferential to the government. You may recall the program's infomercial for the NSA, done by a guy who immediately went to work for law enforcement week's later.

And, while Kroft seems to want to present the supposed legal case against Assange to Assange, it's worth remembering that five years later and the DOJ still has not charged Assange with any crime, though apparently the grand jury investigation is still ongoing.

It also seems noteworthy that Crowley resigned from the State Department just a few weeks after this email, right after he publicly criticized the treatment of Chelsea Manning, who was being held in solitary confinement for leaking the State Department's documents to Wikileaks. Crowley publicly said that such treatment was "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid" -- and within days, he no longer had a job.

None of this is to say that 60 Minutes or any other journalism program shouldn't be asking tough questions of Julian Assange or anyone else they interview. Of course they should. But the very idea that the government is "planting" one-sided or misleading and biased questions with journalists, to pin on a guy they're trying (and failing) to charge with criminal activity for embarrassing those in power, certainly seems pretty sketchy. The media is supposed to be questioning those in power, not to be used as a tool by those in power to question those who are actually exposing corruption.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 11:47am

    Was it always so slimy?

    Was 60 minutes doing this sort of stuff all along and I was just too ignorant when I was younger to notice or is this a new thing? When i was growing up, my parents would watch this show and it was pretty much the word of god. If something didnt smell right according to the newscaster, then my parent would believe what he said and even vote differently base on that reporters statements. It seems to have become nothing but a joke now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 1 Oct 2015 @ 11:50am

      Re: Was it always so slimy?

      It was just hidden better. It's Olds, not News.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 12:49pm

      Re: Was it always so slimy?

      Yes, it was always so slimy.

      Beyond the obvious softball vs. hardball interviews, 60 Minutes has always been a propaganda outlet that sucks up to powerful special interests.

      There was the 60 Minutes show in the 1990s that never aired because the tobacco industry got to it first, didn't like it, and intervened to kill it.

      http://www.nytimes.com/1995/11/09/us/60-minutes-ordered-to-pull-interview-in-tobacco-report.html

      Then there was Mike Wallace's hatchet-job interview in which the person's answers were severely clipped (including mid-sentence) to try to paint a completely different picture from the content and context of what was actually said -- along with a post-interview voiceover that mischaracterized the person's answer and then when on to 'refute' the clipped response. All the way through the interview.

      That was the particular case of the famous "interview" a few years ago with Iranian President Ahmadinejad (the person previously famous in the US for a completely mistranslated [cherrypicked] quote, "wipe Isreal off the map"), an interview which 60 Minutes actually won an Emmy for. Of course, when the full uncut interview was later shown on C-Span, it showed a high degree of post-editing manipulation, from what was actually said in the interview to what 60 minutes wanted its audience to hear. Propaganda at its most audacious.

      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/04/wallace-interview-with-ahmadinejad-was-little-more-than-deli berate-demonization

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onNzrNEFs1E

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:27am

      Re: Was it always so slimy?

      "Was 60 minutes doing this sort of stuff all along and I was just too ignorant when I was younger to notice or is this a new thing?"

      Not a new thing at all. 60 Minutes has always been sleazy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 12:34pm

    Too bad the only candidates that would be concerned about this are at the extreme fringes of their parties and thus have no chance of winning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:31pm

      Re:

      Just think about what you have said, those politicians that would change things for the better are fringe politicians, while those that would enslave you to the corporations are electable. Until people vote for fringe politicians things will get worse.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      Why is it that you think they are extreme fringes? Perhaps you and most other citizens in this nation have been fooled?

      Mass ignorance is VERY REAL!

      Do you know what happens when insanity becomes normal... that's right being sane will identify you as insane.

      Every Living thing in the human mind can be subjective. And it is likely your definition of what is fringe has been told to you rather than being developed on your own.

      Everyone and Everything has an extremity of some form. Everyone that you see that does not hold an extreme values are the ones you can be sure are lying to you the most!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anthemion, 1 Oct 2015 @ 12:41pm

    It is nice to have a little documentation of this sort of thing

    If you think this is old news, I would suggest that it is a good thing to publish documention of these kind of things so people can be accustomed to the idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 12:44pm

    Land of the free-ish

    Ideals like an independent press are laudable, but we have to remind ourselves we still haven't attained them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 12:53pm

    Truth is treason in the empire of -redacted-

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 12:57pm

    On a trivial note, Crowley had enough of a sense of humor (and self-awareness) to put the word "balance" in scare quotes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:25pm

      Re:

      what does that mean, that he conciously knows theirs no balance about this whatsoever.....maybe "balance" in this situation equals, our version......a version forced upon, nobody asked for

      Im starting to think the bad guys dont understand air quotes, or that it shows exactly what their thinking, unintentionally, or their just plain dumb

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re:

        I "like" politicians, i think their very very "good" people, i "dont" think their tyranical in nature, and im sure we are all being represented "well"

        "Good" "honest" folk

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:07pm

    Tough questions? Or 'sensational' questions?

    ...None of this is to say that 60 Minutes or any other journalism program shouldn't be asking tough questions of...anyone...they interview. Of course they should....

    The closest program asking tough questions that wasn't sensationalized in my lifetime was a syndicated program called The Reporters. Unfortunately it only lasted one year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:12pm

    The difference here between 60 minutes of old and 60 minutes of now, is this email documentation. It is to the news media what Snowden was to the NSA.

    It's not that it has not been known to be a propaganda outlet but rather it is now in writing for the public to see. What you suspect but haven't proven doesn't rank on the same level as documented proof such is going on.

    The American people already get they are being lied to by the major media and the government but proof of it is often hard to come by even when you recognize it is going on. This just lowered the trust factor on down towards the negative numbers. It cements that propaganda is being constantly used where the government feels embarrassed or needs to flex it's muscles in an attempt to change public opinion. It's occurring often enough now that not many believe the media news and fewer are staying to hear it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:14pm

    "60 Minutes" will now be renamed "60k Dollars"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:17pm

    The accused should not have the ability to impress imaginary opposition to accusations against them....in secret

    What if, what if, public opposition against them is unanimous.......and support for them is imaginary or created by the accused

    Its not a representaion in that case, its surpression of representation.......what if their support is in fact the minority, but the impression of a majority.........what if

    Im not saying thats infact the case, but i sure as hell dont WANT, it being the case.......too many radical politicians, for THEM to be the ONLY represented

    Make sense? I dont know......feels like something in their does though

    Excuse my spelling

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:29pm

    The whole system is built to accomadate propa-fuc*ing-ganda, or propafuganda for short

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 1:57pm

    See the documentary "Shadows of Liberty".

    Some elements of the old corrupt dinosaur US propaganda machine are showing some signs of adapting to the new realities. I was surprised, for example, that "Mr. Robot" was distributed by NBCUniversal. The show is basically pro-Anonymous, pro-Occupy, pro-Assange, pro-Snowden etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 2:35pm

    [blockquote]"Mr. Robot" was distributed by NBCUniversal. The show is basically pro-Anonymous, pro-Occupy, pro-Assange, pro-Snowden etc.[/blockquote]

    Were we watching the same show? The one where the mentally ill sociopathic heroin addict terrorist causes a global financial meltdown?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 3:25pm

    "We will be prepared to respond to the narrative Assange presents during the program"

    That to me is the worst part , giving them questions to ask is one thing , but setting it up so you look stellar and attempt to discredit the interviewee is another thing.

    and on a side note CBS, you should be even more ashamed than our government , they are built to spread disinformation , but as an independent (so called ) news agency ...fuck you , you belly crawling assholes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike Wallace, 1 Oct 2015 @ 3:41pm

    Entertainment

    NEWSFLASH!!!

    Everything on TV is entertainment. Therefore, nothing consumed from that form of communication is to be trusted -- EVER!

    Now let me see if I can find some rocket motors to make a gas tank explode ....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sivan Kurzberg, 1 Oct 2015 @ 4:06pm

    Conspiracy Theory

    I can't believe that people accept baseless conspiracy theories like this. The government manipulates the media? Really? Are tinfoil hats on sale? This is techdirt, not infowars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 9:00pm

      Re: Conspiracy Theory

      You missed something there:

      The corps manipulate the government that manipulates the media.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 9:39pm

      Re: Conspiracy Theory

      It's a mutually beneficial relationship. CBS gets exclusive stories and high-level government access as a reward for "playing ball" and doing what they're told. It's the same with all the other players in the profit-driven 'mainstream' media. Some like Fox and MSNBC are party loyalists, rather than the standard media practice of sucking up to whichever party is in power. None act as unbiased government watchdogs.

      And as for Infowars, RT seems to be that entity's media of choice, being perhaps the only "mainstream" media operating in the US that's definitely not a Washington suckup (only a Moscow suckup) since even Al Jazeera seems to have been bought off in recent years.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 4:12am

      Re: Conspiracy Theory

      Dude, there is evidence (presented in the article) that this is far from being a conspiracy theory. I can't believe people refuse to believe facts like this with evidence all over it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:42am

      Re: Conspiracy Theory

      Not sure if trolling or just stupid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 4:01am

    I find this refreshing and encouraging. Think that 20 years ago we wouldn't get to know about those wrongdoings. So things are changing, slowly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 5:12am

      Re:

      Before the internet, people who wanted to stay informed with "what was really happening" had to subscribe to a variety of "dissident" newsletters and listen to shortwave radio frequencies. The truth was always out there for the few people who had the determination to seek it out.

      The biggest difference is that pre-internet, you had few people to discuss it with, since your neighbors and co-workers would likely brand you a conspiracy kook (just as today).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 6:56am

    Presumably these planted questions are FOIA-able?

    As would any similar questions this guy has solicited into interviews with other journalists. Frankly I'm more interested in the list of sock puppets, than what they are actually saying.

    60 minutes went schillmedia more than a decade ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:06am

      Re: Presumably these planted questions are FOIA-able?

      Unlikely. The FOIA only works when something is written down on official documents. These backroom deals are probably a bit more of a wink-and-a-nod variety.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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