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NYC Council Member Slams CNN Hire of Muslim Surveillance Program Denier John Miller
"Someone like John Miller should not be in public service nor should they be given a platform on a mainstream cable news network," said NYC Council Member Shahana Hanif.
Earlier today, CNN announced the hiring of John Miller as its Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence analyst.
The company’s press release calls Miller “one of the nation’s top Intel experts” who will “add his unique perspective as a seasoned journalist and decorated law enforcement official to the network’s coverage of crime and terrorism.” Most recently, Miller served as the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism for the New York Police Department.
“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 CEO Chris Licht is quoted as saying in the release. “As both a brilliant journalist and experienced, compelling subject matter expert, he brings to the network an incredible breadth of knowledge.”
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While I’m sure there’s a lot to pick apart about Miller’s time with NYPD, there’s one recent example that should have disqualified him from landing this gig.
During a March New York City Council meeting, Council Member Shahana Hanif pressed Miller about the post-9/11 surveillance of Muslims by NYPD. According to a report from Middle East Eye, Hanif asked for increased transparency from NYPD and a formal apology for what she referred to as a “discriminatory, fruitless, and damaging program.”
Acknowledging this program should not be controversial, as its existence is well-documented. The Associated Press won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for its work uncovering the spying operation. During his 2020 run for president, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg both acknowledged and defended the program.
Miller could have followed Bloomberg’s lead and defended the program, as unsatisfactory as that would be for just about everyone. Instead, he lied.
"Perception allowed to linger long enough becomes reality,” Miller responded. “I know from my own conversation with Muslim members of the community and Muslim community leaders, that there are people… who will believe forever… [that] there were spies in their mosques who are trying to entrap people,” and adding that “there is no evidence that that occurred based on every objective study that’s been done.”
Again, this was a program that the NYPD had long ago admitted to (after covering it up for a decade). Miller’s decision to brush this off as just “perception” and claiming that “there is no evidence that [spying] occurred” was outrageous. New York Mayor Eric Adams tried to play damage control, and Hanif called for Miller’s firing. In April, Hanif called on the Manhattan District Attorney to prosecute Miller for perjury.
Reeling from this scandal, Miller announced his retirement from the NYPD in June… only to land at CNN in September.
For the life of me, I cannot understand this hire.
This is someone viewers are supposed to see on TV and think, “This is a trustworthy source of information”? Setting aside anything else in his career that I don’t care to get into right now, how is lying about a secret anti-Muslim surveillance program you took part in not enough to more or less disqualify you from landing jobs at major media outlets? How are viewers supposed to trust a word out of this man’s mouth? And what should Muslim viewers take away from this decision? CNN’s latest hire has effectively told the hundreds of thousands of Muslim New Yorkers that the well-documented spying program that was unleashed on them post-9/11 is all in their heads. Does Chris Licht not see this as an issue?
I reached out to Hanif’s office for her take on CNN’s hiring decision, and received the following statement:
The nearly decade-long surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of the New York City Muslim community under the post-9/11 surveillance program has left deep scars, some of which have yet to heal. Knowing this full well, John Miller had the audacity to lie under oath about the nature of this program to my face. Despite serving as the NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism, where he would have had firsthand knowledge of this program, he denied it ever existed and refused to apologize for the harm it caused. John Miller would rather double down on years of lies than simply admit that the NYPD made mistakes and caused irreparable harm. Someone like John Miller should not be in public service nor should they be given a platform on a mainstream cable news network.
I’m inclined to agree. This is a bad hire for CNN, and they’d do well to admit as much. Between this, anchor Brianna Keilar’s days-long crusade against President Joe Biden for Marines appearing in the background of his recent speech warning of dangers to democracy (Keilar did not criticize Trump for having Marines in the background of his speeches, so this is not an “equal opportunity” criticism — also Jeff Zeleny called this a “break” from White House tradition, though, again, Trump had given speeches with Marines in the background), the firing of Brian Stelter (who I wasn’t a fan of) and John Harwood, CNN certainly seems to be veering hard to the right under the guidance of Chris Licht and financial backer John Malone.
Obviously, this is an issue that goes beyond just CNN. For too long, major media outlets have looked the other way when hiring analysts and commentators with lengthy histories of public lying. That’s what CNN is doing by hiring Miller, it’s what NBC did when it hired Stephen Hayes (who wrote an entire book falsely claiming that Iraq was partially responsible for 9/11), and that’s what CBS did when hiring Mick Mulvaney. Forever chasing the elusive conservative viewer who had long ago abandoned these outlets for places that reinforce their worldview (see: Fox News, Newsmax, OANN), mainstream outlets hack away at their own credibility to their peril — and ours.