Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who resigned last month, discussed leaving her job in an interview on Fox News’ “Media Buzz” Sunday. Attkisson said it was “pretty easy” for her to “want to leave” due to the fact there was “nothing left meaningful for me to do” due to what she described as her producers’ reluctance to run stories that might anger powerful interests.
“There seems to be a visceral reaction to doing stories that could ruffle feathers, whether it’s certain people on the political spectrum, or even corporate interests,” Attkisson said. “It never runs. Or it dies the death of a thousand cuts, as some of us say. If it’s something they don’t like or don’t want it will be changed and revised and shortened and altered so much that it’s a shadow of its former self if it does air.”
Attkisson described this as a “broader trend that’s happening” rather than an issue unique to CBS News. She attributed this, in part, to “pushback” and “well organised and financed campaigns” reporters and news organisations face when covering stories that anger the government or that could upset”conservative slash corporate” interests. Attkisson also accused the Obama White House of using harsher tactics against the press than previous administrations that she said were designed to have a “chilling effect” on journalism.
“The press in general seems to be very shy about challenging the administration, as if it’s making some sort of political statement rather than just doing our job as watchdogs,” explained Attkisson. “I didn’t run into that same kind of sentiment as I did in the Obama administration when I covered the Bush administration very aggressively.”
While she said some of the timidity among reporters about covering the Obama administration was due to “liberal political bias,” Attkisson also blamed the White House for putting unprecedented “pressure” on reporters.
“I think any journalist who’s been covering Washington for a few years would agree … that there are — there’s pressure coming to bear on journalists for just doing their job in ways that have never come to bear before. Now there’ve always been tensions, there have always been calls from the White House under any administration I assume, when they don’t like a particular story. But it is particularly aggressive under the Obama administration,” Attkisson said. “It’s a campaign that’s very well organised, that’s designed to have sort of a chilling effect and to some degree has been somewhat successful in getting broadcast producers who don’t really want to deal with the headache of it — 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?”
A spokesperson for CBS News did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Attkisson’s allegations. Watch Attkisson’s full “Media Buzz” interview here.
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