Sharyl Attkisson, whose hard-hitting investigation into the gunwalking scandal known as Fast and Furious was known to anger the White House, has resigned from CBS News.
Attkisson cited liberal bias at the network and an insufficient dedication to investigative journalism.
CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has reached an agreement to resign from CBS News ahead of contract, bringing an end to months of hard-fought negotiations, sources familiar with her departure told POLITICO on Monday.
Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsized influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said. She increasingly felt like her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air.
At the same time, Attkisson’s own reporting on the Obama administration, which some staffers characterized as agenda-driven, had led network executives to doubt the impartiality of her reporting. She is currently at work on a book — tentatively titled “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington” — which addresses the challenges of reporting critically on the Obama administration.
Feeling increasingly stymied and marginalized at the network, Attkisson began talking to CBS News President David Rhodes as early as last April about getting out of her contract. Those negotiations intensified in recent weeks, and her request was finally honored on Monday.
Reached by phone, Attkisson described her resignation as “amicable.” She said she will now turn her attention to the book, which is being published by HarperCollins, a division of NewsCorp (and not by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS Corporation.)
Sonya McNair, the senior vice president for communications for CBS News, said in a statement: “CBS News veteran Sharyl Attkisson is leaving the news division to pursue other endeavors. We appreciate her many contributions and we wish her well.”
But Attkisson had become a polarizing figure at the network, sources there said. While some championed her relentless dedication to investigations — ranging from defective Firestone Tires to the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal — others saw evidence of a political agenda, particularly against President Obama. (The bulk of Attkisson’s work since 2009 has focused on the failures or perceived failures of the Obama administration, including the administration’s failed green energy investments and the attack in Benghazi, though she has reported on several Republican failures as well.)
Others have suggested that CBS News itself was politically biased: “It’s no secret that Sharyl has been unhappy about CBS’s lack of interest in investigative reporting, especially when it comes to stories about the Obama administration,” a source close to Attkisson said.
Attkisson reported her computers at home were hacked last June. Since then, CBS has been investigating the hack, but no answers have been forthcoming. At the time her computers were surveiled, she was covering the Benghazi attack and raising uncomfortable questions for the administration.
Attkisson won’t have a problem finding a job. Expect her reports to show up on Fox News eventually.