CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson did several interviews last week that discussed her investigative work on CBS, especially the Benghazi scandal. On C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Monday, Attkison said the Obama administration has "perfected" delaying public release of information, and reported the White House has "quit talking" to her altogether.
In an interview with David Brody of CBN News, Attkisson admitted that's not her only roadblock: “there hasn’t been an appetite for the stories I’ve offered on Benghazi” to the CBS morning and evening newscasts.
"I’ve received a lot of encouragement from the top executives,” she told Brody. “Jeff Fager, who’s our CEO, and David Rhodes, who’s our president, have certainly never said anything to try and interfere with the coverage. They’ve complimented a lot of my work and strongly supported it. On the other hand, every story you present as a reporter has to be bought by a broadcast, meaning not purchased for money, but you have to get them interested in it.… there hasn’t been an appetite for the stories that I’ve offered on Benghazi [on the CBS morning and evening newscasts] so I’ve published a lot online because there’s unlimited content space online and I’ve done a lot of my reporting there.”
She's not kidding. Matthew Balan reported CBS went more than five months without an Attkisson Benghazi report until she appeared on May 8. See the earlier report that CBS News people see Attkisson as "dangerously close to advocacy" on Benghazi.
Attkisson told Brody she’s attracted to stories off the beaten path and enjoys fighting for a story she’s worked on, and that she’s successful “more often than not.” On Benghazi, it's more "not."
Here’s a longer transcript of her take on C-SPAN (transcript by MRC intern Andrew Lautz):
SHARYL ATTKISSON: I think one of the things that working in Washington has aggravated me when trying to get to the truth. This is true across administrations, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that they work for us, not the other way around. And I think we the public are owed a lot of information, collected and gathered on our behalf, such as information floating around about Benghazi. And it’s guarded by the holders and the keepers of the information, as if they somehow own it and hold the privilege over you that you can’t see it.
For example, Freedom of Information requests that I’ve made. That act has now been used, instead of to facilitate the release of public information, which was its intention – it’s now in my opinion been used to withhold and delay the release of public information. I get pretty much zero response. That didn’t start under the Obama administration. He seems to have perfected it, he and the federal agencies. But this was true also under George Bush. It’s very difficult to get public information, even when you apply the Freedom of Information law.
ATTKISSON: Who made the decision not to convene the Counter-terrorism Security group the night of the Benghazi attacks, which we understand is protocol under presidential directive in SPD-46. Why was the protocol not followed? I’ve gotten a partial answer to that from the White House before they quit talking to me altogether. They said they felt it wasn’t needed, that all the proper advisors on counter-terrorism were in the mix.
PS: Andrew also noticed Attkisson mentioned how Hillary Clinton lied dramatically on the presidential campaign trail in 2008 about undergoing sniper fire in Bosnia as First Lady. This ought to make journalists more skeptical and investigative about her Benghazi testimony.
But, in fact, Attkisson on C-SPAN left out NewsBusters and MRC's Rich Noyes, who unearthed the telltale 1996 video first. Back then, she mentioned to the Los Angeles Times she was sent a NewsBusters link.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Many years later, when she was running for president, I guess she was telling a story of how she had dodged sniper fire in Bosnia. And I came home from an overseas trip, and it was my husband who said: “You know that trip you went on, did you get shot at?” And I said “No, we didn’t get shot at.” And he said, “Well, Mrs. Clinton is giving speeches and saying you all were shot at.” And I said, “Well she must be talking about a different trip because we definitely didn’t get shot at....I looked through my files, and we have the video still from that day. And we were able to show that there was nothing of the sort happening.