Last week brought the news that Sharyl Attkisson, the former CBS News investigative reporter, had agreed to execute freelance stories for Sinclair Broadcast Group, which “owns and operates, programs or provides sales services to 167 television stations in 77 markets, after pending transactions,” according to its website. In an interview over the holiday weekend with the Erik Wemple Blog, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston said that at the outset, Attkisson will produce one piece per month for Sinclair, with the hope that the she’ll eventually double that pace.
“We’ve always admired her determination to get to the truth,” said Livingston when asked why they’d arranged to get stories from Attkisson.
Sinclair Broadcast Group already has a Washington presence, with national correspondents Kristine Frazao and Kai Jackson filing stories on politics and policy for the group’s stations. “We do turn unique content out of Washington daily,” says Livingston. “Our focus has been on being an advocate for the taxpayer.” Though Sinclair has been called a “mini-Fox News,” Livingston insists the organization strives to “track the truth, and we understand that’s neither left nor right.”
What about Attkisson, though? Isn’t she the correspondent who left CBS News in March, and then launched a media campaign in which she essentially accused her former bosses of being cowards? Is Sinclair cool with all that? “I can’t speak to the CBS situation,” says Livingston. “It’s clear she thought there was a perceived bias and a lack of support for the stories she wanted to turn.”
In an interview with C-SPAN, Attkisson alleged that her former bosses weren’t willing to “invest the time and money” to push for documents in key investigations, such as Obamacare and Benghazi. Asked about Sinclair’s commitment, Livingston responded, “We’ll go through the vetting process in pursuit of the truth. If it fits with that mission, we’ll do everything we can in pursuit of the truth.”