Fox News Show ‘Media Buzz’ Discusses Sharyl Attkisson’s Resignation From CBS, Culture of Liberal Bias

Veteran investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson resigned from CBS News after 20 years with the network, expressing frustration at being unable to get her stories on air. Following Attkisson’s resignation, the folks at Fox News’ “Media Buzz” expressed dissatisfaction at the state of journalism in America’s newsrooms and the culture of liberal bias that exists.

Appearing on the program on Sunday March 16th, the entire panel acknowledged the disturbing trend of journalists putting their politics above journalism with host Howard Kurtz observing that Attkisson felt it “was almost impossible to get these tougher pieces on the air.”

As the segment began, conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton noted how CBS “didn't want her to go after the Obama Administration as hard as she went after other targets. And so even Politico had to admit that she ran into a liberal bias at CBS, which is why she's no longer there.

Political commentator Craig Crawford offered similar sentiments and pointed out how “I don't think there's been any secret that there's liberal bias at CBS… I can guarantee you almost no one there I can think of voted for Bush, I'm sure. I didn't, either. It didn't bother me. I think the point is, fess up to it and then be as critical to the people you support as those you don't.

Former USA Today columnist Lauren Ashburn went even further and gave a firsthand account of the prevalence of liberal bias in newsrooms:

I can tell you from firsthand as well that there is liberal bias in the media. I wrote a piece in Fox News Opinion this morning talking about my time as a reporter where I didn't feel comfortable wearing a cross on the air. This exists. Whether or not it existed for Sharyl Attkisson and these sources are correct. It doesn't undermine the fact that it’s there.

Given that none of the Sunday shows, including Fox News Sunday, mentioned Attkisson’s resignation from CBS, Fox News’ “Media Buzz” had a much-needed conversation about how journalism has suffered due to liberal political pressure.

Pinkerton summed up the sad state of liberal journalism best by lamenting how:

The hard times of her getting her stories on the air happened when she started digging deep and drawing blood from the Obama Administration. That’s no shock. I hope she finds a new career somewhere else where they’ll let her cover stories freely and fairly.

Kudos to “Media Buzz” for confronting the topic of liberal media bias when so many other programs refuse to acknowledge it even exists.  

 

See relevant transcript below.


Fox News

Media Buzz

March 16, 2014

11:17 a.m. Eastern

HOWARD KURTZ: [Sharyl] Attkisson tried to get out of her contract a year ago and she quit CBS this week after a long period in which she could not get most of her investigative pieces on the CBS Evening News. Here is what Attkisson told me. It's not a matter of me being on air. It’s the idea that so few of the incredibly interesting and important original and investigative topics I brought to the table often exclusively could find no home at CBS in the past three years or so. And Jim Pinkerton what do you make of her explanation for why she quit after two decades at CBS News.

JIM PINKERTON: And before that CNN. I mean she seems to me a serious minded reporter who then was covering investigator stories, winning Emmys as you said. And then all of a sudden the Obama Administration happened and she said I'll supply the same investigative standard to the Obama Administration that I had to say the Bush Administration or corporate America and then she discovered CBS actually  didn't want that. They didn't want her to go after the Obama Administration as hard as she went after other targets. And so even Politico had to admit that she ran into a liberal bias at CBS, which is why she's no longer there.

KURTZ: Well, that was a source or sources telling that to Politico. I think this is more than a left-right issue. For example, even during the Obama Administration, Sharyl Attkisson did an investigative piece on a Republican congressman who had a charity and there were questions of conflicts. And earlier she had done some award winning reporting on Bush's T.A.R.P. program and Iraq contracting fraud. So It's not just left and right, but it seems to be a case where she felt that it was almost impossible to get these tougher pieces on the air.

CRAIG CRAWFORD: Well, I don't think there's been any secret that there's liberal bias at CBS going back to when Walter Cronkite denounced the Vietnam War and by LBJ’s admission threw him out of the White House.

KURTZ: That was liberal bias? That was based on a reporting trip to Vietnam I will remind you.

CRAWFORD: That was, but that was the liberal point of view against the war, wasn't it? I'm not saying it's wrong. I worked for CBS on The Early Show throughout the Bush years and I can guarantee you almost no one there I can think of voted for Bush, I'm sure. I didn't, either. It didn't bother me. I think the point is, fess up to it and then be as critical to the people you support as those you don't.

LAUREN ASHBURN: I can tell you from firsthand as well that there is liberal bias in the media. I wrote a piece in Fox News Opinion this morning talking about my time as a reporter where I didn't feel comfortable wearing a cross on the air. This exists. Whether or not it existed for Sharyl Attkisson and these sources are correct. It doesn't undermine the fact that it’s there.

KURTZ: Well I’m told that a factor in her departure was that she is working on a book, the title of which is Stonewalled: One reporter's fight for truth in Obama’s Washington. So she may have felt stymied not just by her network but also by the difficulty of getting information out of this administration.  It's just rare to see somebody walk away at that level with a record of accomplishment.

ASHBURN: And good for her. Good for Sharyl for doing it.

KURTZ: Does it tarnish in any way CBS News?

ASHBURN: I don't know. They can say there is no liberal bias. There are tons of excuses or examples you could point to that would say no.

CRAWFORD: I think it's also true that the Washington media has been biased for Obama since he first surfaced. Back in the 2008 campaign, I thought a lot of the media acted like schoolgirls cheering for Justin Bieber. It's waned a bit as the years have gone by. But in general the media—

KURTZ: Some say the media has been soft on this president.

CRAWFORD: No, actually, I didn't vote Obama. I just said I didn't vote for Bush.

ASHBURN: You didn't vote?

KURTZ: I have to add because somebody did a lot of investigative reporting when I was a younger person. It is not uncommon for reporters to clash with their bosses over difficult stories, about what is ready to publish but there does seem to have been a pattern here. And when Attkisson told me was it's been three years since she could get any of her investigative pitches on the air as opposed to stories CBS wanted her to do.

PINKERTON: And let’s see when did Obama become president? Oh yeah five years ago. The hard times of her getting her stories on the air happened when she started digging deep and drawing blood from the Obama Administration. That’s no shock. I hope she finds a new career somewhere elsewhere they’ll let her cover stories freely and fairly.

KURTZ: But I do think that it can be a way of tarnishing or neutralizing reporters when you say they lean one way or the other when Sharyl Attkisson's record shows that she has taken on both sides. As well as corporations, not just political stories.

ASHBURN: Do we really believe in this day and age that reporters can be objective? That journalists can be completely objective without bringing their bias to the table?

KURTZ: We believe they can be fair.

ASHBURN: Exactly, which is a lot different than being biased.

CRAWFORD: We don't check our citizenship at the door when we become journalists. And I think the point is, fess up to it and show people you're as tough on the people you support as those you don't. I mean that’s an easy—

PINKERTON: Journalistic credo includes words like speak truth to power. Okay, power is the Obama Administration. It was the Bush Administration now it's Obama and reporters should be equally energetic towards both.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.