Conservative Host Thinks Retracted Claim About White House Reporters Still Might Be True

Another conservative media personality isn’t quite ready to let go of the Arizona news anchor’s retracted claim that White House reporters give press secretary Jay Carney their questions in advance.

Philadelphia talk radio host Chris Stigall spoke Friday with former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson, a favorite journalist of conservatives who resigned from the network earlier this month, reportedly because she thought it had a liberal bias.

Naturally, Stigall asked for Attkisson’s thoughts about Catherine Anaya, the Phoenix television anchor who made the claim about the White House reporters earlier this week on-air during a visit to Washington before quickly retracting it and apologizing.

On his show on Friday, the day after the retraction, Stigall provided credulous coverage of the story reminiscent of other conservative sources. He perfunctorily noted that the anchor “retracted” the story, right before he read the original claim and asked Attkisson for her take on Anaya’s “off-handed observation.”

“So, is this woman just misunderstanding what she saw or is it true?” he asked.

Attkisson made clear that she hadn’t actually heard Anaya’s comments and said that she never saw questions provided in advance during her occasional stints at White House press briefings. But she said she “wouldn’t be surprised if sometimes there is that sort of level of cooperation with some questions that want to be asked.”

For example, Attkisson said that a correspondent might ask Carney about an issue, only to be told to “ask that at the briefing and we’ll answer it.”

“In other words, they want to answer it in front of everybody,” Attkisson said. “They do know it’s coming and they’ll call on you. There’s that kind of a coordination sometimes and I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s sometimes more coordination.”

But Attkisson said she doubts that happens at every briefing, and added that the “chummy relationship” between the press and the White House isn’t unique to the Obama administration.

Stigall then expressed sympathy for Anaya.

“So, Sharyl, this woman is not, it’s not like she was purposely lying or trying to do a hatchet job. … She was just, kind of what she thought was sort of an interesting observation she was offering,” Stigall said. “It blew up on her and she had to, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, no, I didn’t mean it.’ I can’t imagine what kind of hell must have rained down on her yesterday.”

Mediaite has audio of the interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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