This is starting to feel like a house of mirrors, as conservatives begin to hatch conspiracies within conspiracies about the Fast and Furious story.
As Media Matters has chronicled for the last year, the far-right press, led by Fox News, has been incessantly pushing the ATF's failed Fast and Furious gun operation, convinced the White House and the Department of Justice are covering up high crimes. Now as a subplot, conservatives have hatched a mini-conspiracy. The claim: CBS News is "silencing" its Fast and Furious reporter. And doing it on behalf of the White House!
The reporter in question, Sharyl Attkisson, was celebrated by the right-wing this week when she appeared on conservative talker Laura Ingraham's radio show to push her Fast and Furious work and promptly announced she had been yelled at by administration officials, critical of her reporting. (Right-wing bloggers thought the revelation was hugely important and damning, proving once again few of them have ever worked in a big-time newsroom where animated push back is not uncommon.)
Then yesterday, The Weekly Standard reported that CBS announced Attkisson would not be available for interviews from a flock of media outlets (presumably conservative ones) that wanted her to talk up Fast and Furious, and go after White House officials again. From that, The Weekly Standard suggested Attkisson was being silenced and intimated the White House was behind the dark maneuver.
First of all, please note the irony. One of the chronic complaints from conservatives has been the allegedly liberal media isn't giving the Fast and Furious story enough attention. Except those same conservatives are now championing the Fast and Furious work being done from a reporter at CBS, one of the three major television networks in America. (So much for a liberal bias.)
But what about the allegation that CBS is now "silencing" Attkisson? There's nothing to it.
First, news organizations routinely maintain a tight control over when and where their journalists can make media appearances outside of their own company, so denying appearances is not unusual. Second, there's nothing to indicate that CBS News has pulled Attkisson off the Fast and Furious story or is "silencing" her work. And third, there's even less (if that's possible) to support the claim the White House was in any way involved.
If CBS News isn't letting Attkisson do Fast and Furious interviews with right-wing media outlets, that decision is entirely appropriate.
Indeed, it was wholly inappropriate for Attkisson to appear on Ingraham's show in the first place. Ingraham's program is dedicated to tearing down Barack Obama's presidency and returning a Republican to the White House. Period. Anybody who listens to Ingraham's show for more than 15 minutes would come to that same, obvious conclusion. She hosts an endlessly partisan, Obama-hating program. And it's a program often built on a foundation of lies and smears. (Ingraham herself ischronically lacking in class.)
Therefore, under no circumstances should a hard news reporter for a major news network appear on a show like that, let alone go on a show like that to attack members of the administration at length. Why? Because it raises all sorts of questions about objectivity.
CBS News would be wise to keep Attkisson off from the right-wing media circuit. If she has important revelations about Fast and Furious, her work at CBS will speak for itself.