It’s been a month since Sharyl Attkisson left CBS News, a departure which many assumed related to editorial interference with her reporting on stories that focused on Obama administration scandals. Attkisson appeared last night on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor and confirmed those assumptions. Attkisson tells Bill O’Reilly that CBS News labeled her a “troublemaker” for her insistence on sticking with stories such as the Fast & Furious scandal. CBS wanted her to drop the Fast & Furious story over “a lack of interest,” and Attkisson says that the “interest” issue was editorial rather than audience related.
Newsbusters has the full transcript:
ATTKISSON: It just came to be that, I don’t think on the viewer’s part, but on the people that decide what stories go into the broadcast and what there’s room for, they felt fairly early on that this story was over when I felt as though we had barely begun to scratch the surface. They didn’t ask me what was left to report, they just decided on their own that this story was –
O’REILLY: So they pulled the rug from you. And I worked at CBS News. I know how it goes. You can’t investigate a story unless you get a budget to do so, and approval of the higher ups, okay, you are going to do assignment O’Reilly or Attkisson. And this assignment will go to this show. That’s how the structure works. They didn’t want any part of it over there.
Okay. How about Benghazi, what did you find out about that?
ATTKISSON: Benghazi I was assigned to look into about three weeks after the attacks happened by management, and pursue that aggressively. And as I felt we were beginning to scratch beneath the surface on that scandal as well, which I think had many legitimate questions yet to be asked and answered, interest was largely lost in that story as well on the part of the people that are responsible for deciding what goes on the news.
O’REILLY: So did they tell you, look, we don’t want you to spend any more time on this? Was it that direct?
ATTKISSON: No. It’s more as though there is no time in the broadcast. They really, really liked the story but you start to hear from, you know, other routes that why don’t you just leave it alone, and you know, you are kind of a trouble maker because you are still pursuing it. It kind of goes from hot to cold in one day, sometimes. Where they are asking you to pursue something heavily and then it’s almost as if a light switch goes off and they look at you all of a sudden as if, why are you bringing us this story?
CBS News also lost interest in ObamaCare despite all of the security issues that would have made for a huge story had it taken place in the private sector:
ATTKISSON: I was asked by CBS to look into ObamaCare and it had a similar trajectory whereby we broke some interesting stories that I felt like we were uncovering some good information and making headway, but we and I feel like a lot of the media after several weeks of this kind of fell off the radar on the story to a large degree, on the critical looks that we were taking. It’s security issues, the lack of transparency, the lack of providing of figures and information that I think belonged in the public domain, belonged to us, that were being withheld. While being provided in some cases to corporate partners of the government, being withheld from us though.
O’REILLY: When you say security, you mean people’s health records and things like that and that they’re not secure?
ATTKISSON: Right. Just before Christmas came word that the top security official, the computer security person who still works there at HHS had refused to sign off and recommended, in fact, that this web site not go live because of all the security issues. And that was not considered a big enough story, I suppose, is the way to put it by those who decide what goes on the air. But I thought it was hugely important, because this is an insider, someone who works in the Obama administration who had made this assessment. And if you look at having had something like that occur with a private corporation that proceeded to go online with all of these alleged security risks, I think the government would be very upset by that if the tables were turned. But here was the United States government doing it.
And for some reason, the editors at CBS News found that … uninteresting. Those who wanted to cover it were troublemakers. Granted, this is only Attkisson’s side of the story, but their coverage on all of these scandals without Attkisson speaks for itself, as does her departure from the network after providing the coverage she gave these scandals.