Think what you will of investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, but one thing is certain: Unlike many of her colleagues, the award-winning journalist was never a lackey for the Obama administration — even at the height of Obama-mania.
That’s one point many readers will glean from Attkisson’s new book, “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”
Called a “pit bull” by former CBS bosses, Attkisson was in the White House’s eyes an unreasonable woman, according to the New York Post. The book includes two instances where that was made clear.
“Goddammit, Sharyl!” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz screamed at Attkisson, according to the book. “The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You’re the only one who’s not reasonable!”
Schultz was upset with Attkisson’s persistence in questioning the administration over the Fast and Furious scandal, the Post reported.
“I give up, Sharyl,” White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor said while Attkisson questioned him about security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. “I’ll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.”
An old-school journalist who worked at CBS News for nearly 20 years, Attkisson offers a no-holds-barred look at the industry in the book.
She said the TV networks are hesitant to upset advertisers, including pharmaceutical companies or car manufacturers, with stories that may be critical of them, according to the Post.
“We must do nothing to upset our corporate partners . . . until the stock splits,” one boss told her about a story on the American Red Cross.
Attkisson also said a small number of network executives shape the narrative of stories and look to reporters to fill in the blanks.
“We’re asked to create a reality that fits their New York image of what they believe,” she writes in “Stonewalled.”
In the book, Attkisson shares how politics and personal beliefs play into decisions, with news executives and reporters alike. It chronicles how CBS News President David Rhodes and his brother, Ben, a national security advisor for Obama, both got emails critical of Attkisson. In one instance, she writes in the book, she was told not to appear on Laura Ingraham’s radio show because the conservative talk show host was “extremely, extremely far right.”
Things soon began to change for Attkisson at CBS, and her stories started falling out of favor, often being rejected because of politics, the New York Post said of Attkisson’s assertions in the book. One such story involved school lunches, a signature issue for first lady Michelle Obama.
“If I offered a story on pretty much any legitimate controversy involving government, instead of being considered a good journalistic watchdog, I was anti-Obama,” she wrote.
Her frustration over the liberal bias she encountered at CBS was a factor in Attkisson’s decision to resign from the network earlier this year.
The book will confirm much of what many conservatives have been saying all along about the media. In other words, don’t expect it to receive much fanfare in the industry.
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