Veteran correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, who quit CBS News citing lack of support for her investigative reporting on Benghazi and other Obama administration scandals, told Fox News Channel’s Howard Kurtz that network news producers need to stand up to pressure from the White House on pursuing certain stories.
“There’s pressure coming to bear on journalists for just doing their jobs in ways that have never come to bear before,” Attkisson said in an extensive interview with Kurtz that aired this morning on his “Media Buzz” show. She added of the White House “campaign”:
It’s designed to have sort of a chilling effect, and to some degree has been somewhat successful in getting broadcast producers who really don’t want to deal with the headache of it [to conclude:] ‘Why put on these controversial stories that we’re going to have to fight people on, when we can fill the broadcast with other perfectly decent stories that don’t ruffle the same feathers?’
The result, Attkisson said, is “a narrowing universe of stories that are desired by the broadcasts, and it leaves us sometimes with newscasts that don’t dig very deep.”
This isn’t a problem only at CBS News, nor does it pervade the news ranks there, Attkisson told Kurtz.
“The press in general seems to be pretty shy about challenging this administration, as if it’s making some sort of political statement rather than just doing our job as watchdogs.”
She didn’t run into the same kind of White House pressure and internal network resistance or criticism while covering controversial aspects of President George W. Bush’s two terms, Attkisson said. “No one [within the network] accused me of being a mouthpiece for the liberals at that time.”
The Obama White House deploys an effective strategy of moving to “controversialize” aggressive reporters by complaining about “perfectly factual, legitimate” stories such as the administration’s response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi rather than directly address the facts. She added:
I think it borders on inappropriate if it’s sort of a campaign to stop and influence and manipulate the reporting. Rather than providing the public information — the information that we own — it’s just a lot of obfuscation, accusations, saying things are phony scandals, bogus, not real, giving misinformation and false information.”
For Kurtz’s complete interview with Attkisson, go here.
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.