Sharyl Attkisson Got A Show After Years Of Pushing Misinformation And Conspiracies
Discredited former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson will host a weekly news show on Sunday mornings starting October 4 on Sinclair Broadcast Group stations, which include ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox affiliates. Attkisson has a lengthy record of shoddy, inaccurate reporting, and she has pushed a bizarre conspiracy theory that the government hacked her home electronics.
Attkisson's Full Measure News Program Launches October 4
AP: “Attkisson Promises Her New Sinclair Television Show Will Be Different Than Typical Sunday Morning Public Affairs Programs.” The Associated Press reported:
Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson promises her new Sinclair Television show will be different than typical Sunday morning public affairs programs, but she couldn't resist having Donald Trump as her first guest.
“Full Measure” is the first-ever program produced by the Sinclair Television Group, which owns 162 local TV stations, covering 38 percent of the nation's TV homes. Most stations will air it at 9:30 a.m., or later in the morning in some markets where Sinclair owns more than one station, like in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or Syracuse, N.Y.
The program's mission is accountability reporting and investigations. Sinclair and Attkisson say “Full Measure” will come without a political agenda, although shared history makes that a pertinent question.
Sinclair, with its biggest concentration of stations in the South and Midwest, has a history of promoting conservative thought. Sinclair executive Mark Hyman distributes commentaries to its stations. The group told its ABC stations not to run a “Nightline” episode during the Iraq War because it was judged unpatriotic. Livingston said Sinclair believes most media leans to the left, “and our objective is to pull them to the center.” [Associated Press, 9/30/15]*
Attkisson Tarnished Her Reputation With Shoddy Reporting
Politico: Before Attkisson Left CBS, Network Executives Said She Was “Wading Dangerously Close To Advocacy” In Benghazi “Campaign.” In May 2013, Politico reported that CBS News “has grown increasingly frustrated with Attkisson's Benghazi campaign.” According to Politico, “CBS News executives see Attkisson wading dangerously close to advocacy on the issue, network sources have told POLITICO. Attkisson can't get some of her stories on the air, and is thus left feeling marginalized and underutilized.” Attkisson left CBS in March 2014. [Politico, 5/8/13; Media Matters, 3/10/14]
Wash. Post: Attkisson Has Been “Widely Criticized Within Medical-Research Circles” For Pushing The Debunked Link Between Vaccines And Autism. The Washington Post reported:
Some of Attkisson's most controversial reporting hasn't been about politics at all. She has been widely criticized within medical-research circles for a series starting in 2002 about research linking childhood vaccinations to the rise in autism. The stories have been denounced in some circles as “fear-mongering.” Attkisson is, typically, unbowed: “I stand behind it,” she says. “It's some of the best work I've ever done. My only regret is that we haven't done more.” [The Washington Post, 5/7/13]
Attkisson Pushed Error-Ridden Report On “New Solyndras.” A January 2012 CBS' This Morning exclusive investigative report by Attkisson about government waste purported to identify 12 clean energy companies, including Solyndra, that she claimed were “having trouble” or had “filed for bankruptcy” after receiving a total of $6.5 billion in federal assistance. But several of the clean energy companies Attkisson mentioned never received federal funding or were incorrectly linked to the assistance in question. [Media Matters, 1/13/12; Media Matters, 1/18/12]
Attkisson Pushed Inaccurate Healthcare.gov Claims Based On “Partial” Information Likely Leaked By House Republicans. Attkisson aired an “exclusive” CBS report in November 2013 -- based on what she acknowledged were selectively-leaked, partial transcripts -- claiming that the “project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website's security.” Those security failures supposedly compromised Americans' personal information. However, contrary to Attkisson's misleading report, the memo in question discussed a part of the website not in use, which did not deal with personally identifiable information. [Media Matters, 11/13/13; Media Matters, 11/12/13]
After Leaving CBS, Attkisson Published A Book Full Of Conservative Myths. After she resigned from CBS News, Attkisson released Stonewalled, a book designed to document how she tried to work as a nonpartisan journalist but was stymied by the Obama administration and her CBS bosses. However, the book's sloppy inaccuracies and absent context simply reinforced her image as a journalist more interested in a biased narrative than uncovering the facts. [Media Matters, 11/2/14]
Attkisson Couldn't Find A 2012 Photo Of Obama From The Night Of Benghazi. In Stonewalled, Attkisson narrates a moment in November 2012 when she attempted to find a photograph of President Obama on the night of the Benghazi attacks as a way to account for his “actions that night,” suggesting the White House wasn't being forthright about the president's whereabouts, which she characterizes as suspicious and politically motivated. A photo of the president in the Oval Office taken the night of the attacks has been available on the public White House Flickr account since October 11, 2012, three weeks before Attkisson claims she started looking for a photo. [Media Matters, 11/2/14]
Attkisson's Sloppy Reporting Has Already Plagued Her Other Employer, The Daily Signal. After leaving CBS, Attkisson has worked as a reporter for the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal (where she will continue while hosting her Sinclair TV show). In a January report for The Daily Signal, she claimed she had uncovered a Benghazi “bombshell,” alleging that a former State Department employee was told to scrub and destroy State Department documents that included anything that might put the department's leadership “in a bad light,” before the documents were sent to an investigator. But it was subsequently revealed that the supposed witness had changed his testimony, and that a second eyewitness, meant to corroborate the story, in fact dismantled it, telling Congress “he never engaged or was aware of any destruction of documents.” [Media Matters, 1/27/15]
Attkisson Has Pushed A Bizarre, Confused Conspiracy Theory That The Government Hacked Her Electronics
Attkisson Claimed Her Personal Apple Laptop, Personal Apple Desktop, And A CBS News-Issued Toshiba Laptop Had Been Hacked By The Government. Attkisson's Stonewalled documents her many problems with her electronics, and claimed that several of her computers had been hacked as part of a federal effort to monitor her because, supposedly, she did reporting critical of the Obama administration. In June 2013, CBS News confirmed that the CBS News computer was breached, using what the network said were “sophisticated” methods. They did not identify the party or parties behind the breach. Attkisson wrote in Stonewalled that she subsequently gave her “personal Apple desktop iMac computer” to the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General for review, claiming that she believed a government agency was monitoring it. She is now in the midst of a lawsuit accusing the federal government of conducting surveillance on her machines and violating the Fourth Amendment. [Media Matters, 2/5/15; Variety, 9/30/15]
Television, Telephone, And House Alarm May Have Also Been Affected By Hack, She Claimed. In Stonewalled, Attkisson highlighted a warning from a friend who told her that the government is likely monitoring her due to her reporting on the Benghazi attacks. Attkisson wrote that the “warning sheds new light on all the trouble I've been having with my phones and computers.” She details a variety of ongoing technology problems she experienced at her home starting in the autumn of 2012, including strange sounds on her telephone (which unnamed sources tell her may be tapped), a television that “spontaneously jitters, mutes, and freeze-frames,” a house alarm that repeatedly goes off at night, and a mysterious fiber optics cable cord that appears behind her house. Her Verizon FiOS system controls her internet, phone, and home security systems, which Attkisson suggests links these electronic malfunctions to her computer problems. [Media Matters, 11/4/14]
But Attkisson's Hacking Story Kept Changing, Including Her Changing Her Mind About Who Did It. First, Attkisson claimed in Stonewalled that not only was she sure the government was hacking her, she knew the name of the individual responsible: “I make contact with an excellent source who has crucial information: the name of the person responsible for my computer intrusions. He provides me the name and I recognize it.” But when her story began to be questioned by various media outlets, Attkisson reversed course, instead claiming “The forensics says that there was a government tie to this, because there was, as one of them said, proprietary software to one of the four federal government agencies. Doesn't mean I know who was on the other end or was it an organization or was it a person, a rogue person, I don't have the answer to those questions.” Attkisson also changed her mind about whether her television and phone were related to the hacking, and whether her personal computers were ever hacked at all. [Media Matters, 11/5/14; Media Matters, 11/4/14; Media Matters, 2/5/15]
Attkisson's Video Of Her Purported Hacking Was Likely Just A Stuck Backspace Key, According To Security Experts. At one point, Attkisson released a short video showing an “apparent hack” of her Apple laptop. But computer security experts who watched the video told Media Matters that it seemed to show the results of a stuck backspace key rather than hacking. [Media Matters, 10/31/14]
A Federal Investigation Found No Evidence Attkisson's Personal Computer Was Hacked. An investigation by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General found no evidence that Attkisson's personal computer was hacked. [Media Matters, 1/29/15]
*Update: This was originally identified as a New York Times article. It has been updated to reflect that it is an Associated Press article.