CBS Reporter: NewsBusters Prompted Story on Bosnia 'Sniper Fire'

Confirming the important role that NewsBusters played in exposing Hillary Clinton’s bogus “sniper fire” story, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson told the Los Angeles Times’s “Web Scout” blog that it was in fact our March 18 NewsBusters item that prompted her to debunk Clinton’s claims in a March 24 report for the CBS Evening News.

According to the April 8 posting by David Sarno, the Times’ Internet culture and online entertainment writer:
CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson didn’t realize she had a story on her hands until a colleague e-mailed her a link to 12-year-old footage of the Bosnia trip that she herself had reported on, which had been posted on newsbusters.com [actually, NewsBusters.org] several days earlier. “I clicked on a link and was stunned to see it was the same trip,” Attkisson said in an interview.
The March 18 NewsBusters story, written by MRC Research Director Rich Noyes, includes about 30 seconds of Attkisson’s story from the March 25, 1996 edition of CBS This Morning. The video showed Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea smiling, walking calmly and greeting children as they arrived in Tuzla, Bosnia -- not running to dodge sniper fire, as the Democratic presidential candidate claimed in a March 17 speech.

Attkisson posted additional video of her trip, including a photo of her chatting on a military plane with the then-First Lady, on CBS’s “Couric & Co.” blog on March 24, six days after the video from NewsBusters began circulating around the Internet. Attkisson’s subsequent story on the Evening News effectively showed how Clinton’s new version of her Bosnia story could not be true. For a transcript and video, see Noel Sheppard’s account posted early on March 25.

The news about NewsBusters came in a blog from Sarno posted yesterday about the impact of YouTube on the U.S. presidential election. Here’s an excerpt:
It’s the hottest election in recent memory, and the first of the YouTube era, so no wonder political video is whizzing around faster than you can tape your cat mouthing “superdelegate.” Bedroom producers, the campaigns themselves, and everyone in between is using online video to make a point, a profit, both, or neither.

Though videos like Jack Nicholson’s popular pro-Hillary spot “Jack and Hill,” made with help from Rob Reiner, can score big on YouTube, you don’t need to be a celeb or an “SNL” writer to get noticed. Ben Relles put himself on the map when he and two partners brought the world “Obama Girl,” the candidate’s sultry, singing follower who rings in millions of page views every time she bobs onto the computer screen. (“I’ve got a crush on Obama,” was nominated Monday for a Webby Award). Relles’ fledgling BarelyPolitical.com was bought by the Web TV company Next New Networks last October and now has four full-time employees.

Steve Grove, YouTube’s head of news and politics, said videos in that category had seen a “lurch forward” in popularity in the last year, and the last month has been no exception. A March 24 CBS News segment showing that Hillary Clinton had misremembered the details of her 1996 trip to Bosnia become YouTube’s most viewed video that week, no small feat considering the site gets hundreds of thousands of new uploads every day. The week before that, those Fox News videos of Obama’s fiery former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, accounted for five of the top 12 political videos on the site, and the Obama speech that that controversy engendered has been watched on YouTube over 4 million times -- the most ever for a video from a presidential campaign....

Speaking of the conversation between the Web and big media, CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson didn’t realize she had a story on her hands until a colleague e-mailed her a link to 12-year-old footage of the Bosnia trip that she herself had reported on, which had been posted on newsbusters.com several days earlier. “I clicked on a link and was stunned to see it was the same trip,” Attkisson said in an interview. Atkisson wasted no time. Her team dug up CBS’ archived footage and had a segment questioning Clinton’s account on the news that night.

This back and forth continued the next day, when the Web crowd took Attkisson’s segment and ran with it. Various media outlets had noted the dubiousness of Clinton’s account, but the CBS segment gave the story a shot of testosterone. The viral reaction was so great that in a follow-up report the next night, CBS even mentioned the YouTube clip of their own segment, noting it had scored over 1 million views and “spread all over the Internet.”
NB Staff
NB Staff