CBS Allows a Real Journalist to Resign

March 12, 2014 - 5:17 AM

After months of pressing the CBS News brass to get out of her contract, reporter Sharyl Attkisson was finally granted her request. While that is good for her, it ought to underline how CBS has abandoned hard-hitting reporting in the Obama era.

Politico's Attkisson headline was "The right loses its hero at CBS," and liberal blogs tried to guess how long it would take for her to sign up with Fox News Channel. That might happen. Roger Ailes loves scooping up talent from other networks. That's meant as an insult, of course. Only those dreadful right-wing propagandists challenge Team Obama.

But it's insulting on a different level altogether. I do now know Attkisson, but I suspect she'd be insulted to be viewed as any partisan group's "hero." She would not have been employed by CBS for more than 20 years if she had been a Democrat-wrecking right-winger. She's merely a "polarizing figure" for failing to do what Dan Rather called "kiss ass, move with the mass."

Remember this the next time a pompous liberal anchorman like Brian Williams laments that "politics is broken." Journalism is broken. There is no such thing as journalistic independence. When a veteran reporter stands out like a sore thumb by merely trying to get answers for the American people on how a fiasco like Benghazi happened, she is not the issue. Her network purporting to be in the news business is.

Attkisson had every reason to want out of her contract. According to the Tyndall Report, in 2007, she was the 18th most-used reporter in major network nightly news, with 160 minutes on the evening newscast. In 2008, she held steady at 18th, with 145 minutes, and in 2009, she was 19th, with 152 minutes. She hasn't landed in the top 20 since ... Barack Obama scandals bubbled up, and she started covering them.

In 2013, Tyndall found Attkisson was granted only 54 minutes on the "CBS Evening News," a third of her previous average, and 78th among network news reporters. "She was obviously being sidelined," says Tyndall.

She is planning a new book for HarperCollins (a Rupert Murdoch company) with the depressing title "Stonewalled: One Reporter's Fight for Truth in Obama's Washington." The record speaks for itself. This was a woman trying to report news — big, big news — but because it might reflect badly on Obama, first the journalism was stifled, and then the journalist was smeared.

Attkisson's reports on Benghazi were routinely left for the CBS News website. We found she wasn't allowed to air a Benghazi report for a five-month-plus period between Nov. 23, 2012, and May 8, 2013. After one May story, her next report on the issue didn't come until Sept. 16, 2013 — almost four months later. CBS also ignored Attkisson's scoop at that time on Secretary of State John Kerry's refusal to let the Benghazi survivors testify before Congress.

But the CBS elites needed to address the growing outrage over this news censorship, so they began the whisper campaign against her. When Dylan Byers of Politico reported struggles inside CBS last May over stories on Benghazi, he wrote "CBS News executives see Attkisson wading dangerously close to advocacy on the issue."

It's somehow never "dangerously close to advocacy" when Steve Kroft of that supposed CBS hardball show "60 Minutes" has offered a dozen tongue-bath interviews to the president. It's not a sign of advocacy when CBS hires Oprah Winfrey's best friend Gayle King to host their morning show despite (because of?) her close relationship with the Obamas. King attended a 2009 private inauguration party for their "closest friends and allies." Michelle Obama just extended her Hawaii vacation into January 2014 in a "girls getaway" with Winfrey and her best buddy, the CBS "News" employee.

King coming and Attkisson going tell you everything you need to know about the direction of CBS.