To her credit, though, Attkisson today took a detour from the vague parade and issued a direct shot at her former employer. The backdrop for this momentous moment in Attkisson’s post-CBS News career came when interviewer Glenn Beck asked her about the Freedom of Information Act disclosures from watchdog group Judicial Watch, which uncovered an e-mail in which White House official Ben Rhodes issues guidance on how to frame the Benghazi attacks for the public. Beck asked:
Tell me — when you saw Judicial Watch come out with a story yesterday that the e-mails between the presidential adviser who is the brother with the president of CBS News, how did you feel?
Well, on a competitive level, I was jealous because I have FOIA’d those same documents and like many in the press, [was] just ignored. They kind of, in my opinion, flout freedom of information law. So Judicial Watch has the muscle and the attorneys to file lawsuits. That’s how they get their documents. The rest of us can’t get them and CBS wasn’t willing to file a FOIA lawsuit while I was there to try to get some of these documents.
As the Judicial Watch Web site notes, the organization filed a FOIA request with the State Department on Oct. 18, 2012 — about a month after the Benghazi attacks — and sued for the records in June 2013. Judicial Watch calls itself a “conservative, non-partisan educational foundation”
The Erik Wemple Blog has asked CBS News to comment on Attkisson’s charge.
When Attkisson refers to Judicial Watch’s “muscle,” however, she’s on target. Tom Fitton, the group’s president, tells the Erik Wemple Blog that he has nine staff attorneys, and they’re currently working on about 50 FOIA lawsuits. “Thousands” of FOIA requests from Judicial Watch are in process, he notes. “I’m as certain as one can be that we are the most frequent FOIA litigator in the country right now, certainly against the federal government,” says the Judicial Watch boss.
In the past, says Fitton, his organization has assisted outlets like PJ Media and the Washington Examiner with FOIA work. He said he’d be delighted to give CBS News a boost in its investigative efforts. Perhaps SharylAttkisson.com, the current platform for the journalism of Sharyl Attkisson, can take advantage of this opportunity as well.