NBC to America: Big Brother is Watching!

<p><img hspace="0" src="media/2005-12-21-NBCTMitchell.jpg" align="right" border="0" />The December 21<sup>st</sup> edition of Today featured a rather alarmist report by Andrea Mitchell about domestic spying. The story, complete with requisite pictures of Abu Ghraib, aired at 7:15AM. It started off with Katie Couric's ominous introduction. She stated that with regard to spying, &quot;some are wondering if Americans are losing their civil rights in the process.<!--break-->&quot; David Gergen, former advisor to both Democratic and Republican Presidents and editor-at-large of U.S. Newsw &amp; World Report, was interviewed for the piece. He made the assertion that other Bush scandals make the spy story more believable: </p><p /><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p>&quot;There's been such a pattern of secrecy and revelations about torture, about paying off journalists, and other things that the Bush Administration has been engaged in, that I think that's only inflated this story about the wire tapping.&quot; </p></blockquote><p>This gave NBC the opportunity to show yet another montage of the Abu Ghraib prison photos. Mitchell’s description of the espionage program seemed to indicate that the government is spying on everyone, all the time: </p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p>&quot;With spy satellites in space, giant dishes around the globe, the super secret National Security Agency reading e-mails, intercepting phone calls, and burrowing into the nation’s hard drives, critics say Americans are worried about two much government snooping.&quot; </p></blockquote><p>Finally, Mitchell closed her report by saying, &quot;The White House is betting that people are willing to pay any price, if they think it will avoid another 9/11.&quot; This simplifies what the President Bush has said about the spying scandal. During his December 19<sup>th</sup>, 2005, news conference, Bush asserted the following: </p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p>&quot;I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more then a dozen times on this program. And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy, while safeguarding our civil liberties.&quot; </p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Not quite a White House that is &quot;betting that people are willing to pay any price, if they think it will avoid another 9/11.&quot; </p><p>A transcript of the story follows: </p><p>Today </p><p>7:14</p><p>NBC</p><p>Katie Couric</p><p>Andrea Mitchell</p><p>Katie Couric: Now, to the war on terror. Tuesday, Vice President Cheney defended the administration and its secret spying, saying, quote, &quot;It's not an accident that we haven't been hit in four years.&quot; But some are wondering if Americans are losing their civil rights in the process. Here's NBC's Andrea Mitchell. </p><p>(Ominous pan of a phone ringing)</p><p>Andrea Mitchell: Are Americans willing to give up their privacy to help track down terrorists? Since 9/11, the administration now admits it has been spying on Americans, for the first time without court permission. The President says it's all necessary and legal. </p><p>President Bush: &quot;One: I've got the authority to do this. Two: it's a necessary part of my job to protect you. And three: we're guarding your civil liberties. </p><p>Andrew Kohut: &quot;Poll after poll show that the public is willing to see the rules bent somewhat to deal with terrorism.&quot; </p><p>Mitchell: But the ACLU says the FBI has also been spying on animal rights activists and anti war protestors. (Sounds can be heard of pictures clicking. Screen shows freeze frames of animal rights protestors and anti-war protesters.) And NBC's Lisa Myers revealed that the Pentagon spied Quaker peace activists. </p><p>Kohut: &quot;Now, if people begin to think that ordinary citizens, innocent people, people like them, are losing their civil liberties, that's a different question.&quot; </p><p>Mitchell: With spy satellites in space, giant dishes around the globe, the super secret National Security Agency reading e-mails, intercepting phone calls, and burrowing into the nation's hard drives, critics say Americans are worried about to much government snooping. </p><p>David Gergen: &quot;The tragedy here is that from now on, many Americans will believe that the government is listening to their phone calls and is reading their e-mails, even when the government may not be doing that.&quot;</p><p>Mitchell: Partly, Gergen says, because images of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are having an impact on Americans. </p><p>Gergen: &quot;There's been such a pattern of secrecy and revelations about torture, about paying off journalists, and other things that the Bush Administration has been engaged in, that I think that's only inflated this story about the wire tapping.&quot; </p><p>Mitchell: But the White House is betting that people are willing to pay any price, if they think it will avoid another 9/11. </p>

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org