After reviewing a portion of the 42,000 pages of documents the Justice Department released recently on the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal, former CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson said she found “textbook examples of government attempts to manipulate the press.”
In an op-ed published Sunday in the New York Post, Attkisson pointed to a series of emails that show how hard the agency tried to control press coverage of the scandal. It was a vigorous effort that Attkisson said reached all the way up to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Attkission again mentioned the previously reported email exchange where Holder’s top aide, Tracy Schmaler complained to White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz about Attkisson’s coverage of the scandal, saying she was “out of control.” Schmaler said she was going to call Attkisson’s editor at CBS.
Then there was an email to Holder from Matthew Miller, an outside adviser, that “suggested more ways to use the press for damage control,” Attkisson said.
According to Attkisson, the email said:
“…[Y]ou could find a way to ‘run into’ a couple of reporters on your way to something. Maybe Pete Williams, Carrie, Pete Yost — that part can be managed. Most important is that you’re in front of a camera in a relaxed manner giving a response you have rehearsed…It would be ideal if those two things happened in the same day so you didn’t have two news cycles of responding — you want to do it all at once. There may be things you need to do to go on offense as well, but I think most important right now is that you answer the charge about covering this up. Then you can move to offense.”
Pete Williams is an NBC News correspondent, Pete Yost reports for The Associated Press, and “Carrie” could be Carrie Johnson from National Public Radio, Attkisson surmised.
Emails also revealed that Holder admitted that he doesn’t read his briefings from top aides, Attkisson said. “Sigh, sure I didn’t read them,” he reportedly wrote in an email. “I rarely do.”
Since resigning from CBS, Attkisson has been critical of the press’ handling of the Fast and Furious scandal, saying in Sunday’s piece that they “declared it a political scandal of little consequence” and met the release of the documents “with a predictable-yet-inexcusable yawn.”
The media also don’t seem to care that the documents were “withheld for more than two years under President Obama’s one and only invocation of executive privilege,” Attkisson said.
“They’d bought into propaganda from government interests who used social media, bloggers and direct contact with news organizations to marginalize whistleblowers who exposed the wrongdoing, politicians who dared to ask tough questions and reporters who had the audacity to cover it,” she wrote, noting that it was especially perplexing considering “there’s now an expressed consensus [among the press] that the Obama administration has been the most difficult in recent times for press freedoms and transparency.”
The award-winning journalist sent an ominous warning on the consequences of a lapdog media that refuses to hold the Obama administration accountable, saying, “it’s just one more example of ways in which the press is allowing our constitutional freedoms and rights to be chipped away, with barely a whimper … rights that are easily lost but difficult to regain.”
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