By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
Sharyl Attkisson has been “liberated” from her post at CBS, finally resigning after months of rumors of a rocky relationship with the broadcast news company. It turns out that she planned on leaving CBS a full year ago, but was persuaded not to at the time. Now the American mainstream media have lost one of the greats of modern journalism.
According to her CBS biography, Attkisson received several Emmys for her work at CBS, but not all was well in her relationship, as she began to be utilized less and less on the nightly news. “Andrew Tyndall’s quantitative analyses of network news trends” shows that Attkisson had 160 minutes of nightly news exposure in 2007. This had dropped to 54 minutes in 2013, according to Erik Wemple with The Washington Post.
Attkisson told Fox News in a brief interview that this wasn’t about her getting air time, but “the idea that so few of the incredibly interesting and important original and investigative topics I brought to the table, often exclusively, could find no home at CBS in the past three years or so.”
Regrettably, there have been longstanding suggestions in the liberal media that Attkisson was biased, and that’s why she didn’t exactly fit in. “Attkisson is a dogged reporter, driven by a strong skepticism of government,” wrote POLITICO in 2013. “Her drive can produce great journalism, but it can also cause her to push stories to the point that colleagues, especially those of a more progressive bent, suspect a political agenda.” The key here is the phrase “those of a more progressive bent.”
Attkisson was doing what journalists are supposed to do, and she did it with Democrat and Republican administrations. She attempted to hold them both accountable, and served as a watchdog on the overreaches of government. For that, she has been banished from the mainstream media. “During the Bush administration, Attkisson won an Emmy for her reporting on shady Republican fundraising,” notes Katie Pavlich for Townhall.com. Attkisson also did exposés on TARP, Fast & Furious, Solyndra, and Benghazi, among other topics.
It is clear that much of the criticism of Attkisson’s anti-government—not anti-Obama—reporting comes from the White House, and White House-favoring media acolytes. “White House spokespeople declined to discuss their attitude toward Attkisson’s reporting on the record, though they are said to view her recent work as being more in line with that of Fox News than CBS,” reported POLITICO back in 2013. And you know what happens with Fox News or any uncooperative media with this administration? They are generally shut out.
Or, alternatively, the administration may choose to scream and cuss at the reporter because it doesn’t like her reporting on Fast & Furious. “The White House and Justice Department] will tell you that I’m the only reporter—as they told me—that is not reasonable,” said Attkisson back in 2011, describing how she was cussed out by the White House. “They say The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable, I’m the only one who thinks this is a story, and they think I’m unfair and biased by pursuing it.”
In 2013, CBS confirmed that Attkisson’s computer had been compromised by “an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions” in late 2012.
In 2012, Accuracy in Media gave Attkisson the Reed Irvine Award for Investigative Journalism to honor her “outstanding contributions to journalism.” She was unable to attend the ceremony, but CBS’ Washington Bureau Chief Chris Isham indicated in her stead that Attkisson had donated the proceeds to Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, whose “murder was connected to the Fast & Furious Operation.” “CBS News is very proud of Sharyl’s groundbreaking reporting…It represents the best at CBS News, the kind of original reporting that we are extremely proud of that we are fully committed to and will remain committed to,” he said in February 2012.
Attkisson’s departure from CBS is said to be on “amicable” terms.
But what this journalist apparently failed to adhere to was the double standard, and how it applies to Democrats such as the current resident of the White House. All scandals are to be labeled “phony scandals” and nothing is the fault of the President himself—except maybe sometimes he doesn’t communicate his ideas as well as he means to. Thus, we are supposed to accept that there isn’t a “smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS, despite evidence to the contrary, and that the Benghazi victims are just “bumps in the road,” not a sign of gross dereliction of duty by this President.
Attkisson refused to play by those rules. Sadly, it’s hard to find another journalist at any of the three broadcast networks who does the same.
She has done some good reporting on Benghazi as well, but she wasn’t able to do all she wanted to. CBS delayed her Benghazi stories and ignored scoops.
We wonder if the fact that the president of CBS News, David Rhodes, is the brother of Ben Rhodes—who was Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, and involved with altering the Benghazi talking points—played any role in Attkisson’s fate.
Attkisson is currently working on a book, tentatively titled Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington, while staying active on social media.