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Morning Spew

It’s Wednesday and CNN Asks: Why Do Stenography For Cops When You Can Just Hire One?

Plus: a woman collects good trash, a city agency sits empty, and if kids could vote the city would never have been able to abolish snow days as it just did.

6:43 AM EDT on September 7, 2022

NYPD officers lounge in front of the agency’s Times Square office. (Der Roman)

On Tuesday CNN announced it had hired a new analyst to focus on policing and intelligence, an analyst that happens to be one of the most prolific and disingenuous talking heads in a generation. The announcement comes just a few days after John Miller retired as the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism. It will be, to our count, the fourth major network Miller has worked for, and the third time he left law enforcement to play a law enforcement expert on TV. 

Miller started his career as a journalist in New York City in the '90s with the local NBC affiliate before switching careers to work under Bill Bratton as a spokesperson in 1994. A year later, he left amid some controversy to join ABC News. After nearly a decade as a news anchor, he once again returned to work under Bratton, this time with the LAPD, where he oversaw intelligence programs. Miller didn't have any formal training as a cop, but he understood how the press covers police and the security state, and that understanding served him well. He moved from the LAPD to the FBI, before rejoining media once again as an anchor for CBS in 2011. A few years later, he rejoined the NYPD, again under Bratton, holding a top position in a department under extreme scrutiny for its post-9/11 surveillance practices. 

The play-by-play here is important in part because of how frequently Miller has moved between media and what is essentially advertising for the police. One particularly notable feature of his leapfrogging is that he’s often changed career in the wake of just the kind of scandal one might expect from someone who can’t decide whether he is a reporter or a cop. Most notably, Miller was instrumental in discrediting a Black woman who was raped at knifepoint in 1994, telling reporters that law enforcement officials doubted her “credibility” and essentially launching a campaign to belittle her account.

Decades later, as the New York Times reported in 2018—once lab reports showed the NYPD had been wrong about her account and allowed the case to languish unresolved—department officials personally apologized. But Miller’s media career, too, has been tarnished by the sort of intentional deceptions that might be familiar to anyone who owned a television in the lead-up to the Iraq War. As the late, great David Carr wrote in a 2013 column, a “60 Minutes” segment on the National Security Agency’s spying program Miller helmed was an embarrassment for the network, lobbing softball questions at the NSA’s then-director Keith Alexander. “The program produced a segment that scanned as a friendly infomercial for the agency,” wrote Carr.  He continued: 

Mr. Miller is a former high-ranking official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a former spokesman of the F.B.I. whose worldview is built on going after bad guys and keeping the rest of us safe. In his report, Mr. Alexander was allowed to parse his responses, suggesting that the collection and retention of telephone metadata from Americans is not a big deal—it is—and that the agency is “not collecting everybody’s email, we’re not collecting everybody’s phone things.” The report delivered to the president last week said that the agency was doing a great deal of both and that it should stop

CNN appears undeterred by Miller’s rather public history of twisting the facts: “John will help deliver on CNN’s commitment to tackle complex issues while presenting audiences with independent, objective news and meaningful analysis across platforms,” CNN head Chris Licht said on Tuesday

And yet, just this March, Miller testified that “there is no evidence” the NYPD spied on Muslim New Yorkers, and denied the department’s counterterrorism efforts following 9/11 had been mishandled. This, as has been proven several times over in nearly every reputable venue, is a bold-faced lie. 

Anyway! Here are some actually true stories about the great city of New York: 

  • According to data from City Council, one in five jobs are unfilled in the City’s health and buildings departments; as of June 2022, the vacancy rate at the Commission on Human Rights was as high as 27 percent. 
  • Salutations to comrade Vicky, the Lower East Sides’ free-store royalty. 
  • Yuh-Line Niou announced Tuesday night she would decline to take the Working Families Party line to challenge Dan Goldman for the 10th Congressional seat, bringing a long farcical saga to an end. 

Know anything about this man? If so, please do get in touch: 

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