In the past, the award has gone to conservative media stars like Andrew Breitbart, Tucker Carlson and Michelle Malkin. But this year, the conservative watchdog group Accuracy in Media’s Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award will be presented to Sharyl Attkisson and Dana Loesch at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. The decision to honor Loesch, the editor-in-chief of Breitbart’s Big Journalism makes sense. But the decision to honor Attkisson, an Emmy-award winning investigative journalist at CBS News, turned some heads.
A spokesperson at CBS News told TPM that “CBS News journalists are regularly honored by a broad spectrum of organizations for their outstanding original reporting,” but declined to comment further. At NBC News, a spokesperson said that awards generally go through several levels of vetting, including the NBC awards committee and standards department to consider any conflict of interest. ABC News did not respond to TPM’s request for comment on network protocol for receiving such awards.
But the liberal media watchdog Media Matters on Tuesday attacked both Accuracy in Media (calling it a group with a long history of “promoting anti-gay views and conspiracy theories”) and Attkisson’s reporting (calling it “shoddy” and “irresponsible”).
Accuracy in Media spokesperson Logan Churchwell told TPM that Attkisson is the first “mainstream media” reporter to be given the award, named after AIM’s founder. According to Churchwell, Attkisson shows that there is “still hope” for investigative journalism in the mainstream press. “It’s more of a lifetime achievement award for her,” Churchwell said of the award. He admitted that, in the past, the award has been given to rising conservative media stars, but he stressed that no one at AIM knows Attkisson’s personal politics. “We have no idea where she is on the political map,” he said.
AIM Chairman Don Irvine also celebrated Attkisson’s career. “For much of her 30 year career as a news anchor and reporter, Sharyl Attkisson has offered a clear example of what an investigative journalist should be doing,” he said in a statement. “She has flown in a B-52 on a combat mission over Kosovo, shed light on TARP, dared to report on Operation Fast and Furious and has recently exposed dubious green energy loans from the Obama Administration. We are honored to present her with the Investigative Journalism Award.”
Attkisson’s reporting on the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” scandal has riled officials in the White House and Department of Justice, leading some conservative pundits to wonder if CBS News is “silencing” her reporting. Attkisson directed TPM’s requests for comment to the network’s press office.
But Churchwell told TPM that Attkisson has “confirmed and reconfirmed” her attendance at CPAC on Thursday, February 9.