Sharyl Attkisson Attkisson, on the case. (John P. Filo/CBS)

Second in a series of posts on CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, one of the most interesting figures in U.S. media today. 

The Erik Wemple Blog on Wednesday wrote a post wondering why CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson had come forth with various statements about “intrusions” on her home and work computers. Her comments on the allegedly compromised machines came in the context of a radio interview that addressed, in part, the Justice Department’s snooping on journalists. When asked about a possible link between her situation and the predicament of Fox News’s James Rosen, Attkisson replied, in part, “I think there could be some relationship between these types of things and what’s happened to me.”

In a subsequent breath, Attkisson stated that she was “trying to be very careful and patient and methodical.” Nothing about her comments, in our view, fit that characterization.

The post didn’t please Attkisson, who wrote to us yesterday:

Erik: please note that your malicious-toned article was heavy with false assumptions and inaccuracies.

We appreciated the feedback from Attkisson — so much that we wish she had showed such candor before we wrote the post. In an effort to get to the bottom of all this strangeness, we’d sent her five questions about the whole computer mix-up. Answers to those inquiries would have gone a long way toward resolving any “assumptions” that wound up in the piece.

But Attkisson referred all computer questions to CBS News’s public relations operation, which responded with — what else? — a statement noting, “We are investigating the matter.”

What we have here is the classic scourge of many a journalist: A subject who declines to comment on the matter at hand but, after the story is published, complains about the story’s tone. That’s the worst.

As long as the Justice Department is discussing guidelines with media officials these days, how about throwing in this provision?

28 CFR Ch. 1 Sec. 50.10 (o): Subjects of widely disseminated news reports who decline interviews for said report shall forfeit their right to gripe about matters of tone or emphasis relating to said report following publication or broadcast.


Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.