NPR’s Nina Totenberg claimed that the United States was becoming East Germany on the program "Inside Washington" which airs on some PBS affiliates, and in the Washington D.C. market on News Channel 8 as well as the local ABC affiliate.
Host Gordon Peterson, opened a discussion segment regarding a report by ABC News Investigative reporter Brian Ross, who asserted that a federal law enforcement officer advised him and his producer to get new cell phones because the government was tracking the phone numbers dialed in an effort to root out confidential sources. Peterson wondered what effect this would have on reporters:
"He says the official told him ‘it's time for you to get some new cell phones quick.’ Reporters are going to start functioning like al Qaeda operatives? Go to a pay phone if the can find one?"
Nina Totenberg, who was a runner up for the Slam Uncle Sam" award at this years MRC Dishonors Awards, took this opportunity to once again slam America by comparing the United States government to a former totalitarian, communist state:
"You know, this is the way it used to be, this is the way it was in East Germany. I mean this, when you really have this kind of thing going on, this is a very, it’s a, I'm not speaking from a personal point of view because I think we probably will try to find ways of dealing with this. Throw away phones and all kinds of things like that. But this is the kind of talk really in a police state."
Doesn’t the United States government have a vested interest in ensuring classified information regarding the war on terror is not made public? It seems reasonable that when secret information is being revealed, which is illegal, the government would investigate to find out who’s doing it.
Evan Thomas from Newsweek, who was also on the program and agreed that comparing the United States to East Germany was a little harsh:
"I have a feeling we’ve got a ways to go before we get to East Germany."
Totenberg backed off a little bit saying we wouldn’t start out as a police state as she had previously claimed:
"But, you, you don't start out as East Germany."
To which syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer noted:
"No East Germany did start out as East Germany. Let me tell you, day one. Stalin insisted."