CBS' double standard: Network refuses to interview former Clinton administration officials for upcoming Freeh story

The October 9 broadcast of CBS' 60 Minutes will feature an interview with former FBI director Louis Freeh, whose upcoming book My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror (St. Martin's Press) reportedly contains “scathing” criticism of President Clinton.

But, according to an October 7 New York Sun article (subscription required), CBS “refused to tape interviews with former Clinton administration officials who disagree with the former FBI director's allegations, according to people familiar with the situation.” Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz reported that "[t]he Clinton camp says '60 Minutes' would not accept any surrogate to rebut Freeh on camera once the former president declined to be interviewed."

60 Minutes' refusal to accept a surrogate in place of Clinton is inconsistent with the way the show handled a similar story about a book critical of President Bush. On March 21, 2004, 60 Minutes ran a segment about former National Security Council counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke's then-upcoming book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror (Free Press, March 2004). The segment included not only an exclusive interview with Clarke but also an interview with Bush administration National Security Council official Stephen Hadley, who was given time to defend Bush from Clarke's criticism.