Sharyl Attkisson has been working on her memoir recounting her ordeal at CBS News roughly since she left the network earlier this year. The fact that her she had a book coming out and the contours of her critique of CBS News are no surprise. She has publicly discussed them for months.
The book is scheduled for publication on November 4, but the New York Post has obtained a copy and reported two stories based on it, one of them deemed by John “The most stunning news story of 2014.” I wrote about the other one in “The Attkisson angle.” (In it, among other things, Kyle Smith notes how Attkisson escaped CBS’s Rathergate scandal.)
The New York Post has now sought comments from CBS brass about the stories based on the book. Despite the lead time they have had to work on a response to Attkisson’s account, CBS declined to respond. Bring on the crisis consultants. The Post reports that “CBS goes to ground over reports it buried anti-Obama stories.” Analyze this:
CBS honchos stuck their heads in the sand Monday rather than address a former veteran reporter’s memoir that revealed how the network routinely canned stories it perceived as anti-Obama.
Everyone from network CEO Les Moonves to “Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley to former “Evening News” Executive Producer Patricia Shevlin ignored repeated phone calls and e-mails from The Post seeking comment on the bombshell claim by ex-CBS investigative ace Sharyl Attkisson.
In her new book, “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington,” Attkisson charges that CBS higher-ups quashed her reporting on the deadly attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, as well as reports on the federal “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal and the president’s ObamaCare debacle.
Moonves failed to answer repeated phone calls or an e-mail seeking comment.
A secretary for David Rhodes, president of CBS News, immediately volleyed a Post reporter’s phone call to company spokeswoman Sonya McNail. Before the reporter could even ask a question, McNair curtly said, “We decline to comment. Thank you. Bye.”
“Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley’s assistant did not respond to numerous e-mails, and he didn’t return a call to his office.
Attkisson said in her book that under Pelley’s leadership at “Evening News,” her investigative pieces began getting killed regularly.
Former “Evening News’’ Executive Producer Patricia Shevlin, now a producer at “60 Minutes,” also didn’t return a call, with the CBS operator saying the top exec was too busy to talk to The Post.
Attkisson has claimed that after she complained that the network shelved several of her reports on Solyndra — the Obama-supporting green-energy firm that went bankrupt despite hundreds of millions of dollars in government handouts — Shevlin replied, “What’s the matter, don’t you support green energy?”
At the moment, CBS is acting like a perpetrator exercising his right to remain silent. As 60 Minutes has demonstrated over the years, it is not an approach that works in the court of public opinion.
Maybe FOX News can give CBS News the 60 Minutes treatment and send Jesse Watters to run after Moonves seeking a comment with a microphone and a cameraman. “What do you have to say about Sharyl Attkisson’s charges that CBS suppressed her stories for political reasons?” They are going to have to say something, sooner rather than later, but if something other than a candid response is required it will take them a little time to get it together.