The Attkisson angle

Sharyl Attkisson’s new book about her career as an investigative reporter at CBS News in the Age of Obama — Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington — won’t be published officially until November 4. Kyle Smith provides a preview here in the New York Post.

Here is Smith’s account of the Attkisson angle intersecting with the Ingraham angle:

Attkisson, who received an Emmy and the Edward R. Murrow award for her trailblazing work on the story, says she made top CBS brass “incensed” when she appeared on Laura Ingraham’s radio show and mentioned that Obama administration officials called her up to literally scream at her while she was working the story.

One angry CBS exec called to tell Attkisson that Ingraham is “extremely, extremely far right” and that Attkisson shouldn’t appear on her show anymore. Attkisson was puzzled, noting that CBS reporters aren’t barred from appearing on lefty MSNBC shows.

Here is a glimpse of Attkisson’s exposure to news management in the cooperative style CBS News has worked out with the Obama administration:

She was turning up leads tying the Fast and Furious scandal (which involved so many guns that ATF officials initially worried that a firearm used in the Tucson shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords might have been one of them) to an ever-expanding network of cases when she got an e-mail from Katie Couric asking if it was OK for Couric to interview Eric Holder, whom Couric knew socially, about the scandal. Sure, replied Attkisson.

No interview with Holder aired but “after that weekend e-mail exchange, nothing is the same at work,” Attkisson writes. “The Evening News” began killing her stories on Fast and Furious, with one producer telling Attkisson, “You’ve reported everything. There’s really nothing left to say.”

Readers are left to wonder whether Holder told Couric to stand down on the story.

Smith takes up Attkisson’s close encounter with the fraudulent Rathergate story peddled by CBS News in September 2004; we know a little about the underlying story that disgraced CBS News. One can discern in Smith’s telling that the details have receded into a vague recollection:

When a senior producer she doesn’t identify [Ed. note: Mary (cough, cough) Mapes] came to her in 2004 bubbling about documents that supposedly showed then-President George W. Bush shirked his duties during the Vietnam War, she took one look at the documents and said, “They looked like they were typed by my daughter on a computer yesterday.”

Asked to do a followup story on the documents, she flatly refused, citing an ethics clause in her contract. “And if you make me, I’ll have to call my lawyer,” she said. “Nobody ever said another word” to her about reporting on the documents, which turned out to be unverifiable and probably fake.

“Probably fake” does not capture the findings of CBS’s own internal investigation, which I reviewed in this 2005 Weekly Standard column For the record, folks, this was the finding of CBS’s own internal report, prepared by Richard Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi: “The [Thornburgh-Boccardi] Panel met with [forensic document expert Peter] Tytell and found his analysis sound in terms of why he believed that the documents are not authentic.” If the documents are “not authentic,” they are (unqualified) frauds. It is in any event pleasing to have on the record how Sharyl Attkisson escaped Rathergate.

Smith’s judgment: “After reading the book, you won’t question whether CBS News or Attkisson is more trustworthy.”

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