‘60 Minutes’ Enables FBI Dysfunction

Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” didn’t tell his viewers whether FBI Director Christopher Wray imposed conditions before agreeing to be interviewed on camera by CBS. But his slobbering pro-FBI questions, which aired Sunday, had the feel of something Wray’s communication director may have fed the “news” program. The selection of topics seemed geared towards rehabilitating the FBI’s public image as a law enforcement agency. 

Pelley wasn’t educating the public. He was second banana on the production of an infomercial for the FBI. Instead of pressing the FBI director to answer critical questions about the bureau’s many lapses and scandals, Pelley puffed-up the FBI’s made-for-television image that so starkly contrasts with its incompetence, corruption, and politicization. Pelley disgraced himself as a journalist by protecting one of the most powerful men in America from accounting for his agency’s many misdeeds.

It’s What Pelley Didn’t Ask

Under Wray, the FBI has disgraced itself with misconduct and abuse of power. In the days leading up to the interview, victims of serial child molestor and Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sued the FBI for $130 million after agents charged with investigating the abuse instead covered it up by fabricating victim statements. Pelly failed to ask Wray a single question about the scandal. 

Pelley also failed to ask Wray about the humiliating acquittal of two men the FBI attempted to entrap into the Governor Gretchen Whitmer plot engineered by the FBI to interfere in the 2020 election. Among the FBI agents involved, one was accused of perjury, another of wife beating (now convicted), and a third of using the investigation to help promote a side-business

Nor did Pelley ask about the FBI child rapist who rampaged across multiple states for years under the noses of his colleagues responsible for protecting such victims, some younger than 13. Nor did Pelley ask about the FBI’s failure to stop the Jeffery Epstein child-rape-for-profit business. 

An FBI lawyer pleaded guilty to falsifying evidence to help spy on a Trump campaign figure. Pelley didn’t ask about that, either. Did Pelley ask about the FBI’s spying and harassment of journalists (here, here, and here)? No, the obvious purpose of the interview was to help Wray make the FBI appear relevant and benevolent.  

The FBI Is Trying to Share the Ukraine Spotlight

Pelley begins his interview complimenting the FBI for “going on a war footing” to help fend off cyber attacks against Ukraine. Wray smiles approvingly at Pelley’s delivery of a question that sounds like it was planted by the FBI. Obviously, Wray’s well-lubricated political weathervane that guides bureau policy has now aligned with the winds blowing from Ukraine. 

But a real journalist would have asked, “What?! What is the FBI doing in Ukraine?”  

Wray boasted of the FBI’s new round-the-clock Ukraine cyber-command post. Shouldn’t the FBI be fighting crime in America? Is the FBI operating as its own independent government with its own foreign policy? Indeed, Wray bragged that within the FBI’s sprawling empire, it has over 50 offices around the world.

Pelley then surprises Wray with a question Wray should have expected: “Has Russia increased cyber attacks on the United States since it invaded Ukraine?” Wray drops his smile and takes a deep breath to stall. When he exhales, he admits he doesn’t know the answer to that question but assumes that Russia is continuing to do what it’s been doing for years.

Pelley goes on to spotlight a “disruption” of Russian malware to boost the image of the FBI as an international cyber crime cop. This splashy announcement came with no arrests, no convictions, and precious little corroborating evidence. 

One is reminded of the Justice Department’s 2018 breathless press conference announcing indictments alleging Russian cyber interference in the 2016 election. Again, had there been a real journalist in the room, he might have asked whether the FBI’s new Russian cyber-disruption story had any more evidence than the FBI’s election interference case against the Russian firm called Concord. Unlike the other Russian defendants who ignored the Justice Department’s political stunt, Concord appeared to contest the charges. After two years of legal wrangling, the Justice Department was forced to admit that it was unwilling to back up the allegations in open court. 

Did Wray offer any corroborating specifics with which the public could verify its new bold claims of disrupting Russian cyber operations against Ukraine? No, of course not.

CBS News journalist Scott Pelley. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ignoring Real Crime to Pursue Narrative-Boosting Headlines

“On any given morning, I’m going to be hearing about a domestic terrorist trying to blow up a hospital in the middle of a pandemic,” Wray said after Pelley cut away from footage of Wray’s morning briefing. Pelley trotted out the old saw, “you have to be right 100 percent of the time,” suggesting that the FBI deserves credit for every crime that fails to materialize. “I believe deeply in the work, the mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.” Wray’s voice dropped to a bit of a mumble as the word “Constitution” seemed to stick in his throat.  

Pelley then asked Wray how the FBI was doing at protecting the American people. “In 2020, there was a 29 percent jump in murder in the United States. Nearly 5,000 more people killed than the year before. What is behind this leap in homicide?”  

Wray gave a politically palatable answer blaming COVID and “interstate gun trafficking.” Could he say the FBI was making any headway against violent crime? Unable to answer “yes,” Wray dodged the question with a bunch of bureaucratic gibberish about “task forces” and “law enforcement partners.” Then Pelley asked about a 29 percent increase in police murders, many of which were ambush-style assassinations. Tellingly, Pelley suggested the real problem might be police brutality: “Mr. Director, some people are in their homes living in fear of the police coming through the door with a no-knock warrant and I wonder how the FBI can contribute to the reduction in police brutality which also occurs in our country.” It was an oblique reference to the highly distorted narrative following the officer-involved shooting of Breonna Taylor. 

The “police brutality” hype and the surge in crime aren’t nonsequiturs. The “Ferguson Effect,” the rise in crime following a police pullback in the wake of anti-police hysteria, is well-documented by social scientists. Wray emphasized the FBI’s priority to prosecute cops swept up in the hysteria. In other words, the FBI is helping to magnify the Ferguson effect by further chilling legitimate police intervention.

Wray Wants It Both Ways on January 6

Many mysteries surround the FBI’s role in the events of January 6, 2021. We’ve learned from the New York Times that at least two FBI informants entered the Capitol, one of whom participated in the “sacking” of the Capitol. Since then, the story has remained in the news through the highly partisan January 6 committee made up of all Democrats and two of their RINO schills. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blocked any GOP member who might question her insurrection narrative. 

So why didn’t the FBI stop the incursion if it knew about it in advance? Pelley’s voiceover conceded, “The bureau has been criticized for failing to develop intelligence that might have predicted the assault.” Wray implied January 6 was an act of domestic terror. He claimed the FBI “shared information through a variety of intelligence products for a solid year leading up to January 6 that raised the potential for violent extremism,” but that he did not know “thousands of people were going to physically storm the U.S. capitol.”  

That’s a strange claim to make in light of the fact that the FBI had informants positioned among the people who entered the Capitol and that the FBI will not arrest Ray Epps, a man caught on video organizing and encouraging that incursion. The Justice Department is still preparing a “disclosure” about Epps. Apparently, Epps’ relationship with the government is sufficiently complicated to require weeks to explain.

So did the FBI know in advance of the Captiol incursion or not? That’s not important for Wray. The important thing is that the FBI is using January 6 as a pretext to launch nationwide investigations to entrap. . . excuse me, “prevent” January 6 from happening again.

Politics Prevents the FBI from Countering China

Wray identified the Chinese government as the biggest source of malicious cyber activity directed against the United States. Pelley failed to ask about the FBI’s recent humiliating defeat in its attempt to frame an innocent Chinese-American university scientist as a Chinese spy. Nor did Pelley ask why the FBI had not made arrests after a Chinese firm apparently bribed Hunter Biden with cash and a three-carat diamond. Nor did Pelley ask Wray to comment on the claim that the FBI supported the obvious lie that Hunter’s laptop, which contained evidence of China’s hold over Joe Biden’s son, was a product of Russian disinformation.  

And where was the FBI when a Chinese spy seduced and influenced multiple American politicians, including U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)? The compromised congressman remains on sensitive House committees, including intelligence, homeland security, judiciary, and the “modernization and readiness subcommittee,” which includes the intelligence-related activities of 17 elements of U.S. government and military intelligence programs.

Wray closed the interview with a lie, promising, “We do the work in the right way, that our process has integrity, has rigor, has objectivity . . . and that we will follow the facts wherever they lead, to whomever they lead.” He might have added, “Except when those investigations lead to my patrons in the Democratic Party.” Pelley, like so much of the legacy media, helped Wray sell lies to the American public.

About Adam Mill

Adam Mill is a pen name. He is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. He graduated from the University of Kansas and has been admitted to practice in Kansas and Missouri. Mill has contributed to The Federalist, American Greatness, and The Daily Caller.

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

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