CNN’s Yellin: Press ‘Under Enormous Pressure’ From Execs Before Iraq
CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin, during a segment on Wednesday’s "Anderson Cooper 360," accused her former bosses -- presumably those at MSNBC, where she worked prior to joining ABC in July 2003 -- of pressuring her to run positive stories about the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq: "When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation... and my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president's approval ratings... the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the President."
[Yellin repeated her "patriotic fever" line in a clarification posted Thursday at CNN's AC360 blog.]
Her statement on the post-9/11 "patriotic fever in the nation" mirrored that of her former colleague at NBC News, Brian Williams, who said on "The Early Show" on Wednesday that "people have to remember the post-9/11 era and how that felt and what the President felt he was empowered to do" Yellin also repeated the typical left-wing spin on the pre-Iraq invasion period, that "the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning."
Host Anderson Cooper seemed stunned at Yellin’s statement: "Really? You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the President?" Yellin answered, "Not in that exact -- they wouldn't say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive, yes. That was my experience."
Yellin made the comments 23 minutes into the 10 pm hour of the CNN program, as part of a panel discussion which included CNN’s John Roberts and Ed Henry. The three have at some point in their careers covered the White House, and Cooper asked them about Scott McClellan’s upcoming book, in which the former White House spokesman accused the media of not living up to its liberal reputation in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Given this reputation, one wonders what Yellin had initially submitted to her editors that caused them to edit her pieces and "turn down stories that were more critical."