Politico: CBS News Execs See Attkisson As ‘Dangerously Close to Advocacy’ on Benghazi

Politico media writer Dylan Byers sought to add context to Paul Farhi’s “glowing profile” of CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson in Wednesday’s Washington Post.

Byers suggested Farhi painted it as a David and Goliath story with Team Obama as Goliath. But there’s another Goliath, he wrote: CBS News executives who aren’t happy with Attkisson’s “Benghazi campaign” that’s “wading dangerously close” to advocacy:

The second Goliath is CBS News, which has grown increasingly frustrated with Attkisson's Benghazi campaign. CBS News executives see Attkisson wading dangerously close to advocacy on the issue, network sources have told POLITICO. Attkisson can't get some of her stories on the air, and is thus left feeling marginalized and underutilized. That, in part, is why Attkisson is in talks to leave CBS ahead of contract, as POLITICO reported in April.

Farhi mentions "internal conflicts" in the final paragraph, though he seems to dismiss them. The "internal conflicts" are indeed real -- Attkisson is still eyeing an exit, according to sources -- and provide important context for today's piece. Today, CBS News is celebrating Attkisson's commitment to the Benghazi story. A PR representative even encouraged POLITICO to write a post about Farhi's piece. But that support is an abberation. [sic]

Byers did not seem to ask these anonymous CBS execs if they generally feel they have never “waded dangerously close to advocacy,” either now or in the Katie Couric era or Dan Rather era. Byers also failed to ask if it might be “dangerously close to advocacy” to grant Obama and Hillary Clinton a kissy-kissy interview on “60 Minutes.”

I told Farhi yesterday that Attkisson has been an outlier, someone who simply investigates a story to find out how our public officials behave and misbehave, something some might say is an archaic use of television news . Far too many broadcast journalists have spent more time praising Michelle Obama’s arms and her designer fashions than tracking government failures.

It would be a shame if CBS doesn't keep her. CBS recently has seemed so much more sober and substantive in their morning and evening newscasts than their competitors.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis