Wherever Sharyl Attkisson pops up these days, she brandishes allegations that her former employer, CBS News, bailed on her stories before her much-noted break with the network. To radio host Chris Stigall, Attkisson claimed that her bosses were essentially cowards when it came to good and important stories. To Fox News’s Howard Kurtz, Attkisson lamented an (alleged) industry-wide allergy to in-depth reporting. And to CNN’s Brian Stelter, she spoke of a story about a “very powerful corporate interest” that was “never to air.”
As we’ve pointed out before, Attkisson’s minutes on the marquee “CBS Evening News” have indeed declined in recent years.
Yet there are other platforms in this media corporation, one of them being CBSNews.com, where a tidy bit of journalism gets practiced. The site contains a Sharyl Attkisson archive, and oh my, look at all the stories by this muzzled journalist on Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi.
That’s a partial accounting, because CBSNews.com wouldn’t allow the Erik Wemple Blog to proceed past page 16 in the Attkisson archive, leaving out the five months just after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks.
We could perform that same exercise with Attkisson stories on the botched Fast and Furious gun-running program, but the Benghazi-Benghazi-Benghazi accounting makes the point: Though Attkisson may have faced challenges getting her material onto the airwaves, CBS News’s Web site appears to have put up less of a fight. Seeking more information on this front, the Erik Wemple Blog asked CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair how many of Attkisson’s Web stories got killed. McNair referred us to a previous statement on the company’s approach to the former reporter’s work: “CBS News maintains the highest journalistic standards in what it chooses to put on the air. Those standards are applied without fear or favor.” Attempts to secure comment from Attkisson have failed.
There’s no argument here that Attkisson should have felt happy and fulfilled as her work got steered to CBSNews.com. After all, she’s a TV reporter and came to the network in 1993 from CNN; that was just two years after the formation of the Internet Society.
Yet the Attkisson archive on CBSNews.com — heavy with tough-on-Obama stories regarding Benghazi, Fast and Furious and Healthcare.gov — rebuts the notion that somehow this news organization wouldn’t trade in Attkisson’s reporting. On the contrary, the files suggest a quite productive relationship between reporter and Internet, so productive as to raise this question: How much great material did the organization really pass up?
Find Attkisson’s current reporting at SharylAttkisson.com.