CBS Reporter Details Government Spying and Liberal Bias in Media

Sharyl Attkisson is well regarded for being a “bulldog” of a journalist–the kind of reporter who has a “nose” for a story and doesn’t stop working at it until she gets to the truth. This made her a great reporter, and it eventually made her persona non grata at CBS News.

Attkisson’s new book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington hit the shelves on Tuesday, and to help gin up some media buzz for the book, she sat down for an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

In the interview Attkisson discusses both her belief that the Obama administration has indeed been spying on her, but no just on her, on other journalists as well.

THR: CBS executives suspect that the government hacked your computer, and CBS computers, but there’s been no accountability? CBS just dropped the matter?

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Attkisson: As far as I know, although what they told me was they wanted to heavily pursue it and find out who was responsible. I discovered on my own they have a computer security specialist working for CBS … But nobody ever questioned me, came to my house, checked the security of my system, asked me for more information, or followed up with me.

THR: Do you believe that people working for the president of the United States hacked your computer and spied on you?

Attkisson: The way you phrase the question makes me want to couch it a little bit. I have been told by two computer forensics experts that a highly sophisticated entity using abilities outside non-government resources, using software proprietary either to the DIA, CIA, FBI or NSA made repeat remote intrusions into both my computers over a period of time. And we have evidence of a government computer connection into my computer system.

THR: And why do you think they would target you as opposed to more partisan voices, like Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck?

Attkisson: The question carries the assumption that they haven’t targeted others. I kind of assume I’m on a list. I don’t think I’m the only one, along with James Rosen and the Associated Press, that garnered special attention. There’s probably a list of people.

THR: So an enemies list, like in the Nixon administration?

Attkisson: I’ve been told there is such a list, yes.

THR: And who do you suspect is on that list?

Attkisson: Well, there’s an internal email that indicated reporters who were working with leakers in government agencies or perceived as enemies of the White House are being targeted. So I think that’s probably accurate — anybody that they perceive as harmful to their agenda or working with leakers and whistle-blowers, which I did a lot of.


cbs sharyl attkissonIf you read the entire interview (which I highly recommend), THR shows it’s biased approach and it’s obvious lack of knowledge of conservative culture by focusing much of their fire at Rush Limbaugh. They see Rush as the boogeyman of the right, the likely source of every belief, idea and action from conservatives. While Rush does have a huge audience, conservatives are hardly monolithic in listening to his show. Rush is one of us, he is not all of us.

Later in the interview, THR asks about liberal bias at CBS – which Attkisson handles as gently as possible.

THR: But you have said your bosses kind of shut down a lot of your reporting?

Attkisson: Some of them did. It was very complicated. All of them encouraged my reporting initially, and then as time went on some of them encouraged it and some of them discouraged it.

THR: Who were the ones discouraging it?

Attkisson: Nobody ever discouraged it to my face, they just would not run the stories or would have other stories they wanted to put on every time the stories were offered. That was CBS News with Scott Pelley and his executive producer Pat Shevlin primarily, but there may have been others.

THR: You’ve said they did this because of liberal bias?

Attkisson: I’m not sure I’ve ever said that. But I think there was a complex list of reasons why a lot of stories did and didn’t make it on the air the last couple of years. But in a general sense, I noticed a tendency to avoid stories that would draw pushback form people they didn’t want to have pushback from, whether it’s corporations, advertisers or politicians.


And a little later – there was this nugget.

THR: It sounds like you’ve been telling me that journalists at CBS who don’t toe a certain line have something to fear there. Is that the case at other networks, too?

Attkisson: I’m not sure we have anything to fear, it’s just that if you want to keep working there, you may not be doing what you want to do. In my case it was not being willing to do what they wanted me to do, or disagreeing with it so much that I just would rather move on. I don’t think reporters are fearful, per se, but I think they will tell you at the other networks that it’s getting more difficult to get original and hard-nosed stories on, especially if they don’t fit with the narrative that the gatekeepers in New York are trying to portray.

THR: You were accused by some at CBS of agenda-driven news stories against Obama. Has anyone at CBS ever accused a reporter of agenda-driven stories against Sarah Palin, or George W Bush, or anyone prominent on the right?

Attkisson: When I did stories that clearly were not positive toward Republicans, I was never accused of being a crazy liberal or having an agenda. That only happened when I did stories that were perceived as being negative toward Democrats.

THR: Did your executive producer, Patricia Shevlin, accuse you of not being supportive enough of green energy because of your stories about taxpayer money given to Solyndra before it went bankrupt?

Attkisson: She never told me that — that was her answer to another executive who raised the question: ‘Shouldn’t we be doing these stories on evening news?’

THR: Why is that anecdote about Shevlin significant?

Attkisson: She is a well-known liberal ideologue who let that get in the way of her decisions and judgment. Whether people will say that to you or not, that was the consensus. That was discussed sometimes daily at CBS.

Again, the entire interview is well worth your time to read and consider. THR did a good job interviewing Attkisson aggressively and airing a lot of the concerns many have had with her story about leaving CBS and the government spying on her. Will the interview change minds? Probably not, but it will definitely become part of the greater story of the Obama era in Washington, D.C.

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