Award-winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson gives a detailed look at her experience with the increasingly biased restrictions on news media.
“Most everything you see on a given day, whether it’s social media online or when you turn on the TV news, it is so controlled by special interests, corporate interests and others who learned how to take these mediums and make sure the public gets, instead of what they need to see, what they want them to see,” said Attkisson.
In 2010, Attkisson’s investigative reporting for CBS on Congress and tax dollar spending won her multiple Emmys. She began her career reporting for local TV stations in Florida and Ohio before entering the national news world as a CNN anchor in 1990.
Early last year, Attkisson ended her 21-year career as an investigative correspondent for CBS in Washington D.C. She said she had a “great time” at CBS, but she had to leave when she began to feel the interest of the station shift towards being a mouthpiece for the government and powerful private interests. Instead of the hard-hitting investigative pieces she loved, her assignments often involved “filling in the blanks” of stories the network wanted told.
“Certain managers we had at the time on certain broadcasts, who had not done this before to me, but to me and other reporters were inserting their ideological beliefs, political and otherwise, into the stories,” Attkisson said. “[CBS] did not want the public to see certain topics — even though they were fairly covered — lest they come to the wrong conclusion on something about which the management felt very strongly.”
Attkisson’s post-broadcast career as an author has been devoted to publicizing the way the U.S. Government and special-interest groups use their power and influence to shape the course of mainstream news. Her 2014 book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington was on the New York Times bestseller list.
“It’s definitely not just CBS,” Attkisson said. “[All major media outlets] are restricting content because of special interests.”
Amid her problems getting stories out, Attkisson had a separate set of issues acquiring information.
In her career, Attkisson has covered the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations and said “each [was] increasingly worse” about freeing information, and fighting “truth-seekers”.
In her book, Attkisson claims to have been subject to apparent hacks and wiretaps in what is believed to be a governmental restriction or scare tactic to smother her reporting.
“The monitoring I think was supposed to be secret,” Attkisson said. “But there is very much an intimidation and bullying factor that comes largely into play.”
Recently, Attkisson has been researching “Astroturfing,” organized campaigns formed to shape public opinion by hijacking social media to bolster one viewpoint and marginalize its opposition.
“[The public] still wants to go to one [news outlet] and be able to accept it as fact and not have to say ‘Gee, it’s Fox so I better cut off 30% of that story’ or ‘It’s MSNBC so I better cut off 70% of that story,” Attkisson said. “There’s not a news source that has everything right 100% of the time. You might follow one reporter for one story, but another for the next one.”
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