CBS Reporter to Ingraham: Obama W.H. 'Screamed and Cussed at Me'
CBS's Sharyl Attkisson revealed on Tuesday's "Laura Ingraham Show" the extent of the rage directed at her from the Obama administration for her reporting on the "Fast and Furious" controversy: "The DOJ woman was just yelling at me. A guy from the White House on Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me." Attkisson also stated that "they think I'm unfair and biased by pursuing it."
The journalist appeared on the conservative talk show host's program at the bottom of the 9 am Eastern hour to talk about her latest reporting on the growing Justice Department scandal. She highlighted on Monday's "CBS Evening News" that "new documents...show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial 'Fast and Furious' operation as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his [May 3, 2011] statement to Congress."]
Through this program, the federal government smuggled guns to Mexican drug cartels in order to "get a better handle on where... [the] cartels were operating," as fill-in anchor Bob Schieffer put it in his intro for Attkisson's report.
Ingraham first asked, "What exactly is the Justice Department saying to deflect criticism or concern that "Eric Holder might indeed have said something that was untrue to Congress?" The CBS correspondent led her answer with the anecdote about the yelling she had received:
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Well, in between the yelling that I received from [the] Justice Department yesterday- the spokeswoman, who would not put anything in writing. I was asking for her explanation, you know, so there would be clarity and no confusion later over what had been said. She wouldn't put anything in writing, so we talked on the phone, and she said things such as, the question Holder answered was different than the one he asked. But he phrased it, he said, you know, very explicitly, 'I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.'
We have evidence- the Justice Department turned over this material to Congress- I don't think it's all of it. But they turned over evidence of memorandums sent to the attorney general himself. Whether- if he wants to say he didn't read it, I'd suppose he could say he didn't read this. But as far back as July 2010, in the documents they sent, he was getting information on this program. So, he certainly heard of it sooner.
Later in the segment, the conservative radio host asked for more detail about the yelling. Attkisson named names:
INGRAHAM: So they were literally screaming at you?
ATTKISSON: Yes. Well, the DOJ woman was just yelling at me. A guy from the White House-
INGRAHAM: Who was it?
ATTKISSON: On Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me-
INGRAHAM: Who was the person? Who was the person at Justice screaming?
ATTKISSON: Eric Schultz- oh, the person screaming was [DOJ spokeswoman] Tracy Schmaler. She was yelling, not screaming-
INGRAHAM: Oh, really?
ATKISSON: And the person who screamed at me was Eric Schultz at the White House.
INGRAHAM: Hmm- I thought we were supposed to be so transparent. This is a new era of transparency. And Pelosi was draining the swamp, and the White House was going to turn a new page, and that was actually good to hear. I mean, we were like- okay, that's- we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. And then, the first time a reporter asked a serious question about, at least, a Justice Department move here, the reporter is yelled at and screamed at.
And I would imagine, Sharyl, that if- let's say, a NBC reporter had been yelled at and screamed at by Karl Rove, we would have been hearing about it for years afterward (laughs) in the Bush administration. It would be, 'Oh, those bullies over at the White House, once again, shutting down true inquiries into their goings-on behind closed doors.'
For the record, Schultz is the associate communications director at the White House and was the former head of communications for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Tracy Schmaler worked at Yahoo! as their senior director for global public affairs, and before that, for Senator Pat Leahy on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Near the end of the interview, the journalist revealed that the Obama White House even accused her of being biased:
ATTKISSON: And I'm certainly not the one to make the case for DOJ and White House about what I'm doing wrong-
ATTKISSON: They will tell you that I'm the only reporter- as they told me- that is not reasonable. They say 'The Washington Post' is reasonable, the 'LA Times' is reasonable, 'The New York Times' is reasonable- I'm the only one who thinks this is a story, and they think I'm unfair and biased by pursuing it. And my side of the story is- and I never knew where this story was going when I talked to those whistle-blowers back in January and February- and I didn't care where it went. I'm just, sort of, digging away and going where it leads. But I'm sure they take it very personally, because it's very important- they have very important implications.
Speaking of bias, Attkisson's colleagues at NBC and ABC have punted on the "Fast and Furious" issue. Neither Big Three network have covered the controversy on the air since April and June respectively.