Reporter Sharyl Attkisson elaborated during an interview that aired Monday on claims that CBS News suppressed her stories that were critical of President Obama, extending the blame to one of the biggest names at the network.
Attkisson has made a ton of noise since she left CBS earlier this year, repeatedly suggesting that her stories on the 2012 attack in Benghazi and the failed gun-running operation known as “Fast & Furious” were stymied by the network for political reasons.
If her interview Monday with NPR’s David Folkenflik was any indication, Attkisson has no intention to pull back from the claims that have made her a rare journalistic hero among conservatives.
Attkisson blamed CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley and “two veteran producers” for keeping her stories off the air. Pelley took over as evening news anchor in 2011.
“There was a change in appetite for the types of stories that I often specialized in, which tend to be a lot of government watchdog stories,” Attkisson said.
It was at least the second time in as many months that Attkisson had criticized Pelley by name. The first was during an appearance on C-SPAN.
During her NPR interview, Attkisson said she was “clearly discouraged” from pursuing stories once it became clear that they’d be unflattering to the Obama administration.
“You know, at times I had been encouraged to begin covering stories about the Obama administration but then midstream I’ve been clearly discouraged from continuing to pursue them as the stories seem to start to get dicey or as I seem to be able to turn up very good information and sources,” Attkisson said.
According to Attkisson, her bosses at CBS were inclined to take the government at its word.
“That if they say something we’re to believe it. If they put out a press release, we’re to report it,” Attkisson recalled. “And I come from an entirely different school of thought where I think of course we’re supposed to check those things out and look at them critically.”
She also veered into conspiratorial territory, telling Folkenflik that her phones are monitored by “people unknown” and repeating her oft-invoked implication that her computer was hacked by the government. CBS has confirmed that her computer was hacked, but the network has been careful not to blame the government.
Attkisson has said most of this before, of course. In fact, CBS responded to the NPR piece with virtually the same boilerplate statement it issued in April after she said the network was inclined to avoid stories that could upset corporate and political interests.
Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, the author of several tough pieces on Attkisson, told NPR that he doesn’t “buy her act.”
“Especially the act of leaving CBS and emerging to basically call out her supervisors and call out CBS News for not having the guts to publish her stories,” Wemple said.
Folkenflik also interviewed NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers, who sympathized with the notion that the press has been soft on Obama.
When she promoted the NPR interview on Twitter, Attkisson referred to Wemple as a “WashPost gossip blogger.”
NPR’s @davidfolkenflik report on my “saga” with contributions from Lisa Myers & a WashPost gossip blogger….
— Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) July 7, 2014
Since leaving CBS, Attkisson has done some reporting for The Daily Signal, an arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation. Sinclair Broadcast Group recently announced that she will join the company as a freelance investigative reporter.