Interesting things happen when Sharyl Attkisson chats with radio host Chris Stigall on Philadelphia station WPHT. It was on Stigall’s show last May, for instance, that Attkisson got into some detail about the allegedly spooky circumstances surrounding hacking breaches into her home and work computers.
That was back when Attkisson was a CBS News investigative correspondent.
No longer: The renowned correspondent recently bolted CBS News after prolonged turmoil and tensions over her work and how it fit with a mainstream broadcast network. Attkisson pushed super-hard on stories that painted the Obama administration in a bad light, including coverage of the Fast & Furious gun-interdiction program and Benghazi. She also covered aviation, Obamacare and other stuff. She worked at the network for two decades.
As reported on the Erik Wemple Blog and elsewhere, Attkisson’s work, whatever your opinion of it, sustained a diminishing profile in recent years on the marquee CBS Evening News.
In a chat today with Attkisson, Stigall wisely picked up on the question of air time. He asked whether CBS News had instructed Attkisson to “knock it off” with her anti-Obama stories and denied her exposure for such fare. The response from Attkisson was more damning that anything else she’s said about her former employer since leaving the building:
With various stories, you do get the idea at some point that they want you to stop, especially if you start to dig down right into something very, very important, and it’s not just with political stories — it’s with stories that go after other interests, corporations, different things. There seems to come a point when you get close, they seem to not be interested in the stories anymore sometimes and some people — certainly not all of them; this has not been universally true — but some people or some managers act as though, yes, you’re a problem if you keep pursuing the questions.
Behold those words: What Attkisson is claiming here, in effect, is that she had blockbuster scoops — perhaps many of them — that her bosses all but killed due to lack of interest. Well, now that Attkisson is free of CBS News, perhaps all these amazing investigative pieces will burst onto the public square. After all, there are no more wimpy managers to hold her back anymore.
A keenly sympathetic interviewer, Stigall set up Attkisson for another nice shot when he asked, “Is it fair to say your conscience has caught up with you and you felt like I can’t do it in the traditional confines any more?” Attkisson replied, “It’s more that I felt like I was no longer effective in that environment. And you know, why be at a place where, you know, you’ve never been better positioned to break original investigative stories but have nothing that you can do with them once you do so. That’s sort of the position I felt I was in.”
Continuing with that riff, Attkisson absolutely smacked her former employer (along with the rest of the media): “Again, I think there’s sort of a problem all over, I talked to my colleagues in different mediums, and I think there’s just a lot of pressure — investigative reporting gets a lot of backlash, they don’t know quite how to deal with it. Why not just put on stories that don’t draw that kind of response?”
Stigall didn’t ask Attkisson for:
1) Examples of the blockbusters that Attkisson’s bosses killed on account of pure cowardice.
2) An accounting of just what happened with those hacked computers. Attkisson last June appeared on Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor” and claimed she thought she knew who had done the dirty work. She’s never said.
Often cited as a natural for Fox News, Attkisson said no one has approached her from cable’s leading news network.