In March, veteran investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson made headlines when she announced her resignation from CBS News. Attikisson was known for her relentless coverage of the terror attacks in Benghazi and the Fast and Furious scandal even when her colleagues seemed to shy away from the stories.
In various interviews since her resignation, Attkisson has implied that she was indirectly discouraged her from doing investigative reporting critical of the Obama administration. On radio this morning, Attkisson joined Glenn to discuss her forthcoming book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington and the state of journalism in the United States.
“I have to tell you I have not been this excited to talk to somebody on the air in I don't know how long,” Glenn said. “I think Sharyl Attkisson will go down in the history books as a leader in this time period, somebody who stood against all odds stood. And if it wasn't for technology, she would be discredited and she would be out and nobody would ever know the truth. But because of technology, she had the courage to leave CBS News after fighting on the inside for a long time and then start her own website and really go out and be on her own so she doesn't have to answer to anybody.”
To begin, Glenn asked Attkisson whether or not she believes journalism even exists anymore. She explained that she recently returned from a “top line investigative conference” at Berkeley with some of the most courageous reporters in the business, and the consensus was that press freedom has definitely changed in the United States.
“It's amazing because there's some amazing reporters in print and television who attended,” Attkisson explained. “These are reporters that work for or used to work for the New York Times, the LA Times, a lot of these publications, and they all see something as they say fundamentally changed in society with the restrictions on the press freedoms as well as civil liberties being given up pretty much voluntarily.”
Glenn praised Attkisson for her decision to leave CBS News and pursue her own reporting without the oversight of a gatekeeper. To that point, Attkisson stressed that she found herself in a unique position that her fellow journalists might not have the luxury of experiencing.
“I don't have to work. I've put myself in a position where the kids' college is paid for, and I do sympathize with other journalists that can't stand up for some of things that they want t because they have bills to pay and families to raise. I get that,” she said. “I'm in a good position now, so I don't see a downside in anything I do. I don't see myself in the future beholden to a single master and which stories don't get to see the light of day which I think is a moral issue today.”
On Wednesday’s season finale, For the Record investigates the events that led to the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Additionally, Judicial Watch just released email communications that show then-White House deputy strategic communications adviser Ben Rhodes worked to craft the narrative that a You Tube video sparked a demonstration that then turned violent in order to protect the President in the lead up to the 2012 election. Attkisson is one of the reporters who really led the charge on this investigation and refused to give up on story, and Glenn asked her how she feels about the new information coming out.
“For a couple weeks, I didn't cover this story. I wasn't originally assigned, and I was brought in. CBS asked me to look into it. I think it was about three weeks in when it looked like there was some more information to uncover,” she said. “And just the stonewalling of basic information that should be publicly available such as the commander-in-chief's action on a night when basically people were at war with Americans and that we were under threat in many places in the region. We don't even know what the commander-in-chief did that night. We're not allowed to do know and I think that's pretty shocking.”
As Attkisson explained, she views the Administration’s stonewalling as a relatively effective strategy because it allowed President Obama to make it through election season unscathed. Furthermore, the more time that passes after an event, the more likely it is that the news media and the American people lose interest.
“I think in part what I see as a strategy has been somewhat effective. They just needed to get through the election without as much of this coming out as possible,” Attkisson said. “And as it has dribbled out in the year and a half since, we're getting sort of, you know -- I've seen this before. And, you know, different administrations and different politicians. You get a little bit numb. Little revelations come out at a time. If all that we know today had come out the week after Benghazi, it would have really been disastrous, I think.”
Ultimately, Attkisson believes the limitations to the press under this Administration are truly historic, and that is an unfortunate trend.
“I can tell you from the standpoint of press freedoms and reporting, I think this will be seen as a historic time of restrictions,” she concluded, “and a time in which we not just lost but voluntarily relinquished a lot of our duty and authority as watchdogs of the government.”
To learn more about the events that led to the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, don’t miss For The Record: Zero Footprint Wednesday at 8pm ET only on TheBlaze. Not a subscriber? Start your 14-day free trial HERE.