tv Q A CSPAN June 22, 2014 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
>> this week on "q&a" our guest is emmy award winning sharyl atkisson. who discusses her career state of the media and her future plans. she left cbs news after more than 20 years with the network. >> sharyl atkisson, one of the cbs reporters. we talked five years ago. now you're three months passed being with cbs. tell us why you left. >> primarily because i just wasn't a market for what i think i do best after i was doing, which is good investigative reporting preferably on topics that were underserved and also on topics people don't want to touch because they get push back or blow back. i like covering these kinds of topics.
>> this may surprise you, this was you five years ago right in that same chair. >> rate this job you have. is this it? >> this is it. this is the best. especially you have your ups and downs and everybody -- the joke is only good as your last story. over all, this is what i want to do and with katy and the bosses that i named, heavily support this type of reporting which is a dream come true for someone who loves to dig and satisfy the curiosity. this is it. >> what happened? >> i think over all, not just at cbs but according to my colleagues and broadcast elsewhere, there's been a decline appetite for investigative reporter. it's gotten harder and hard. not just political reporting, which is really not my favorite kind to do but any kind of reporting that goes after the powers that be. there's such organized well financed efforts that go after
the reporters and reports before going and after they're being crafted. it's a lot of trouble. >> why are they concerned about the powers that be? >> i think it's a complex question. i think that there's an element of it's easier just to take the path of least resistance. if you're a manager, why do you want the headaches they do and all the tactics they engage in. i think there are financial connections between people that we may do stories on and the networks and entities we work for. there's a complex web of factors that have come together that led to this declining appetite for investigative reporting. all the investigative reporting from cbs are gone.
>> just for the show, i checked five years ago and the ratings for the week of cbs, everything is in the same position, nbc first and cbs second. you total it up, there were 20.1 million viewers five years ago and there are 20 million viewers now. there are 18 more people in the united states. where do they go request ? -- where do they go? >> they get their news elsewhere. they're more entertainment oriented. the evening newscast, which put together maybe 22 minutes of news and commercial. a lot of that news is not necessarily original. it's what they've seen all day on cable. people habits are chaining. we have race going on the evening newscast which really
only involves tiny little universe and people how there in america. it's gotten to be almost meaningless in a sense in terms of the impact that that particular broadcast or that set of broadcast have. >> who should be happy about this? >> in one sense, i think, there's a lot of opportunity there because of all the options. i think viewers have places they can go to find news that they can't get elsewhere or the mainstream media. on the other hand, there's so much you're put in position of having to filter through all the source. many of which don't have the same function and goal as journalist which is try to present a certain story or facts and a fair perspective. it's very hard to sort through all of that and find the truth, i think. >> i read a book coming called "stonewalled."
is that true? >> that's correct. that should be published november 4th. >> are you finished with it? >> not quite, no. i'm on a pretty tight deadline. >> when did you start it? >> i was thinking everybody else on cbs, we're all writing books. you always got one in the back of your head. i guess i thought about a lot of issues facing journalism today. issues that i specifically faced that i thought about for quite some time. i was approached by a number of different literary agents in the last couple of years who are interested hearing more about it. putting words to paper. not really that long ago. but it was easy to do because the thoughts had been there so long. >> how long is the book? >> i think they have it slated for -- they have it predetermine, 362 pages even before it was written. they have to know how much it's going to weigh and how much pieces of paper will be there.
they will shove it all into that content. it's getting to be too long. i have to take some of it out. i think it will be 360 something pages. >> there were lot of reports about you, you appeared on a lot of television shows after you left there. why did you do that? >> i got hundreds of requests from the big to the tiny to talk about various things about my departure in journalism. i guess i felt a little bit of pull to talk about some of it. there are really important issues. i think there's something big and major happening in america today in journalism. i kind of wanted to talk about some of that. i think that was the primary reason. most of it request i didn't get to do, didn't have time or couldn't do. i agreed to do cnbc first. that didn't work out because they did the missing plane coverage.
>> flight 370. >> i ended up doing fox. i tried spread out. i did conservative and liberals in between. >> another person that retired was lisa myers from nbc. she appeared on this show last week. let's watch a little bit of what she said about journalism. >> it's a matter of holding powerful people and institutions accountable. i fear today that we're not doing that enough. there's too much attention -- we're too driven by social media. i think it's come to dominate a lot of decisions about coverage when we ought to spend more time digging and providing new information to the viewers. >> i'm with her a hundred percent. we're on the same wave length i was surprised when i went to investigative reporting conference, i was asked to
moderate a panel a month or two ago. i wasn't sure how it would be received. they wanted to discredit the reporting that i do, the target is so strong, it takes such a hold especially in the social media. not sure what the other journalist. i was so warmly welcome. i didn't see lisa there, people on her caliber and level share their stories with me. similar things and similar observations. these are prominent journalist suffering the same things. many of them suffering while keeping jobs and making similar observations. >> there was a story about you a year or ago and you wanted out of your contract. if it was true, why did you stay? >> i ended up speaking to jeff
who convinced me to stick it out longer. jeff is persuasive. he was a great boss. he seemed to have a grasp on things going on. he wanted to address them. >> give us an example when you got mad and said, i'm tired of this. >> i would say in general, i've never been better positioned to break what i think are great original stories. not just on politics but on a broad spectrum of subjects including corporate misdeeds and allegations that are important to consumers and taxpayers. yet, never been so terribly positioned to not get it on any broadcast. nobody wants it. to have whistleblowers talk to you,
convince people to go out on a limb and produce what i think terrific stories with great material and have nothing to do with them, it will be frustrating. my producer and i, really tried everything we could. we tried going with a broadcast. you kind of have to sell your stories to which broadcast will air it. again, the declining appetite for this kind of reporting was just all over. >> do you ever get the sense it was a corporate decision to hire above the news people? >> it's hard to say. you do wonder. i'm not privy to those discussions. i talked to other journalists based on their observations. with particular stories that's been the case. if there's a story that -- i will talk about this i think in the book. advertisers that are valuable to a company or a corporation. there's some discouragement to follow that path of story. that's probably always been the case. i think that with the financial
crunch and the economy in recent years with all the media provisions, really hurting for money. perhaps that influencing factor became somewhat strong per >> what's the difference at cbs news, 20 years ago when you started there and now and the number of people that work in the news department? >> i don't know the numbers. i know in washington d.c., we're a shadow of our former selves. in washington, we had about six. i don't think that's the worst factor because if you have six or seven correspondents and producers that have their finger on a story and the beats and diverse slice of the news, there's nothing wrong with that. it can be done with a skinnier staff. we had 20 years ago more people on a given day doing work that
never aired or trying to get on guess in the end maybe wasting their time because there wasn't enough time to put them on. although the news divisions are titler and smaller, i think news can be covered with a smaller staff. >> why did you name your "stonewalled" book? >> i named actually "unaccountable." the publisher, harper collins, chose "stonewalled." >> why the subtitle, one reporter's fight for truth in obama's washington? >> specifically, the way
washington has been transformed in the last couple of years, it's always been tough. it was tough as we discussed under clinton. it was tough under bush for journalism. journalist by in large, i'm talking about journalist in "new york times," washington post, agree this is the administration we work for. journalists have banded together and written letters to the white house expressing this thought. there has been the spying, snooping scandals that journalist banded together. >> i want to show you a video clip of president obama on his second day after his initial inauguration. >> the way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. to make it transparent so the american people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they're being made and whether their interests are being well served. the directives i'm giving my
administration today how to interpret the freedom of information act will do just that. for a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city. the old rules said there's a defensible argument for not disclosing to the american people. then it should be disclosed. started today, every agency and department should know that this administration stand on those who seek to know information. we say it simply as i can, transparency and the rule of law will be the touch stones of this presidency. >> what grade would you give him? >> an f on transparency and freedoms of information. i think my colleagues in journalism will give a similar grade whether they're liberal or conservative. freedom of information process has become a joke. it's shocking because i feel
very strongly that the information that they withhold and protect belongs to the public. we own it. there's no sense of that when we ask for it. they cover this as if they're a private corporation, descending their trade secret rather than understanding the information they hold is gathered on our behalf. i have a healthcare.gov freedom of information request. when sued they have to produce material under court order to this organization, that de facto becomes public. i still can't get that. i'm still fighting with them to say, you lost. you have to provide at least the chunks of information you lost in court and to me and those who requested it. they just ignore it. there's no consequence to it unless you file a lawsuit. >> give us an idea how it works.
you want to get the information. what do you physically have to do? >> well, usually you call. first you ask them for it. >> who do you ask? >> you call the public affairs people, hhs for example. you say here's what i like. like to have. there's nothing to stop them. they should provide it right then. what they do now, they co-op the process that was intended to help the public. they co-oped it in a way that it benefits then. they say you have to file a freedom of information request which put us end of a long queue. i waited 10 years for. i'm still waiting since 2012 for responses to the benghazi story. these are requests that are supposed to be filled in 30 days.
we wait years and years. they create their own backlog but not just publishing the information. they send you to the end of a long line. you just pursue and you check on the request, you get an answer that says, a lot of times, they say there's no information, you can't have it. you push more, they may give you a little bit with redaction. your final option to file an lawsuit. which is expensive. by the time you get the material, is it really worth it, because a year or two has gone by. cbs was not willing in the end to invest and file suits. many times they didn't recommend a lawsuit because of the time reason. for benghazi and healthcare
give.gov, those were two stories we could have benefited. >> recently around the hillary clinton book release. morning joe talked about this. mika said something about access and the fear of the correspondence about access and not willing to say something. let's watch it and get your take on whether this is your experience. >> i don't think it gets a pass. everybody stop giving passes hoping you will get some sort of interview. stop, all of you. it is not good. seriously. these people when you are watching leave them the white house, it was reported how much they will make during speeches. for her to do a book to have a section saying we were dead
broke. that shows how contrived the book is. for hillary clinton to talk about being dead book. -- dead broke. >> but they were dead broke. they were $12 million -- >> why am i the only one telling the truth here? >> she said you all are afraid. she gets back to this access thing, people aren't willing to criticize her because they went get access to an interview? >> that is rampant in white house. i have an opposite viewpoint. the fda shuts you out. i have the press person walked up to me and said, i hate you. i was so taken back. i never met her before. this is their attitude.
they shut you out and they won't call you for press conferences. i argue, all you're losing is the propaganda they want you to have anyway. you're never going to get a great get from the administration or from a federal agency about themselves or something they've done wrong, which is primarily the type of watchdog reporting i do. all you're going to get is the stuff they want out there anyway. i don't see a problem with the access. i'm not a beat reporter. i don't rely on a job which i show up to the white house everyday and get inside information. those who do really, i do think access is overtly threatened. i've been told since i left cbs, some of the reasons by other journalist and executives, they told me similar stories. that the administration, i think the bush administration may have done something similar, will literally tell the morning shows they will be out of the rotation to getting the next interview if
they do the wrong kind of reporting. they're so concerned about getting that interview. i argue there's nothing the interview will offer the viewers that's original and unique and the government wants to get out anyway. it's publicity and whoever they're putting out there. disagree on whether there's a value keeping that access. it's a major concern for a lot of reporters who work in washington. >> president obama poll numbers are as low as they ever been. the reasonable i bring that up. what are they getting out of it? what's their motivation? >> i think it worked at the end of a two year term in general, thing will look different for any president, i think. as people start to look back. >> at the end of a two term? >> sorry, end of the second term. there's a little more
perspective and maybe more criticism. what it does to stonewall and keep a lot of information out of the public eye is get you to the second term. for example by not releasing the benghazi information, much it in a timely fashion prior to the second the election of the second term. some would argue that helped seal his second term and it could have jeopardized or threatened it. i think there's a general tactic that's used when something is potentially bad or damaging happens, wait as long as you can, no matter what you have to say. it may later be proven false, wait as long as you can before the damaging information comes out. when it comes out, it's old news. >> let me parallel two stories. benghazi story where we lost four americans. and the recent story about the five americans that were killed in afghanistan. that was a one day story. the benghazi story now a couple of years a old, what's the
reason for a -- what are people are hung up on benghazi and why aren't they more interested in the fact that we killed our own in afghanistan? >> if people get the sense that there's a cover up or they're not getting the whole truth or there could be political motivations behind actions that something took that could have affected the outcome or those questions come up. i would argue in the case these americans killed by a friendly fire if we were to find out there was some cover up or some cause behind it other than what's been sold or advertised to us to date, there will be more interest. for benghazi, i'm just still surprised this much after the fact that we have no answers to
the time line or generally what the commander in chief did while americans were under attack on foreign soil. the egyptian attack happened and benghazi attack happened, other embassies could have been going up in the middle east. we have no idea what the commander in chief was doing. that's a basic question they would have answered. >> let me -- we lived for years of the stories about president obama and his birth certificate and where he was born. eventually, i'm sure this is going to get me in an argument, it came out and birth certificate and all that. there wasn't a negative story to that. why are you so sure there will be a negative on the benghazi story? what difference would it make now?
>> i didn't cover the birth certificate story at all. i can't comment on what was found and what was positive there. i think americans have every right to say -- as a journalist, it's important for us to learn not to let go of something because of time passes. that's the worse kind of message to send when something does happen. if a politician knows all they have to do is wait long enough, no matter what happens that it will go away. that's one of my specialties is to keep digging until it reaches a conclusion rather than a lot of people go away when questions aren't answered. at the end of the day, there has been enough time where is information comes out later that is significant and important to enough people it makes me think it's still worst asking. >> when you were here five years ago, your daughter was 13. she's 18.
>> she's 19. >> would you advise her to go into journalism? >> no. >> why not? >> it's a tough changing field. i don't know where it's going. it's hard to have a happy job in journalism now. a lot of people want to do it. i'm not sure i would push it on my kid. i would have to worry about that, she's interested in my job. she's interested in what i do. she has no interest in doing it herself. >> let's go back to some of the programs you did once you resigned from cbs. i have to ask you this, did they fire you? >> did cbs fire me? no. i left mid-contract. i had to get permission to leave prior to the end of my contract. which they could have not terminated. >> what's their reaction now that you're gone and all the
publicity you got after you left? >> i don't know. >> nobody is reacted. no tweets. >> not to me. >> here you are with brian stillter. he used to be with the "new york times." let's watch this. >> the president of cbs news in the last couple of years has been david rose and his brother ben rose is a speech writer in the white house. >> in one on one conversations that i had. david told me the types of journalism he thought we should be doing >> is there a pattern you detected? you have a story about republicans that was troubling that it would get rejected if you pitched a story about democrats that was rejected. >> generally there was a pattern many more stories in recent years being embraced if they
were seen as positive to government. the administration and even certain corporations. than if there was stories that were pitched can be perceived negative to government administration. >> positive to government. why do anybody in the newsroom care about that? >> i don't think they should. probably we should go after legitimate stories that they don't like. i think they value doing that more so than the other way around. i don't know. you have to ask them. there's a lot of factors at play. i would argue corporation and government has become one in the same in recent years. special interests have been able to figuratively buy and pay for capitol hill interest. many congressman, the people on the committee on capitol hill who are supposed to watchdog certain industries and corporations now fundraise. they get on committees so they can fundraise from the very industries.
those are key positions they want to have so they can stay in office. it's all meld together in off is way i think everyone is serving the same kind of corporate and powers that be masters. the media, we're supposed to be the ones we're supposed to hold them accountable. >> the media's case, especially the big networks that own television stations and are licensed, but with all the media available and cable and satellite, they're not being targeted like it used to. why are they more sensitive today than they were 35 or 40 years ago? >> i don't know if the people running them have become more intertwined with corporate and political interests. i don't know if the finances made a difference that makes them want to go after different stories. it's really hard for me to say.
lot of us have spent time wondering. because i think there's so many combination of factors working together. there's exceptions to everything that i say. you can find a story that goes against these general rules that i experienced and observed. i think it's complex and difficult to parse. >> i have a book that's been on my shelf for 40 years. i was written by edward j. epstein. you may not have been around when it was written. it's called "news from nowhere." this was 1973 when he wrote it. it was a dissertation he in at columbia journalism school. the networks themselves had an interest not embarrassing the president or showing unfavorable light. networks are heavily dependent on the government and its spokesman placing high value or network news.
it's the good will that it may gain for the networks. any sort of coverage that burn mines the white house good will be questionable. >> i think there's always been an element of these things that i discussed including that and maybe it's grown worse or maybe i'm just observing and experiencing it more. >> he also writes, he's based in new york, about journalist and their attitude towards politicians. almost all the newsman he interviewed held politicians and public office holers in low esteem. the only exception for a few new faces in national politics. the working hypothesis almost universally shared among correspondents is that
politicians are suspect. their public image is probably false. their public statements disingenuous. their motives are self-serving. >> i would say that changed a little bit. when it comes down to it and you're interviewing them one and one for a story, the individual politician is different. i worked on capitol hill for a short period of time. i'm surprised how some other journalist kind of, i told my friends and family, they treat the politicians like kings and queens. they defer to them. they don't ask them tough questions and then press them. they accept obfuscation and lack of answers. i was pretty shocked. what i tried to do is the same thing i would do when i'm not, i
would press for a final answer until there's a conclusion. i think some journalist today, they like being in the club. it's almost like they're a member of the gang. they're a member of the club but they're subservient to these powers that help them in their careers. because i've also experienced journalist who get a phone call, maybe they're taking a call from me. there's a federal official on the other end of the phone. they're very anxious and hyperventilating. i may actually be on a deadline on a important task for the broadcast, so i'll have to call what person back. it's almost like a celebrity. i think the attitude has changed a little bit. we're all suspicious and wary of politicians and their motives in a general sense. it's harder to describe.
what do you think? >> it goes here, correspondents thus see their jobs to be to expose politicians by unmasking their disguises. debunking claims and piercing rhetoric. in north until proven otherwise political figure of any party of persuasion are presumed to be decentive opponents. >> too often now, we accept what politicians say. we are more likely now as a general group see this more than i used to, to take a press release or a pronounce of statistic or fact by a federal agency. even one that's been proven to provide misinformation or inaccurate information in the past and take that as fact. we pass along more information like that than we used to.
at least in my experience. >> here you are back in -- you resigned in march, here you are back april 13st with howard kertz on fox who used on cnn. >> there's pressure coming to bear on journalist for just doing their job. in ways that have never come to bear before. there always been tension. there's been calls from the white house under any administration i assume when they don't like a story. it's particularly aggressive in the obama administration.
it's a campaign that's very well organized, it's designed to have a chilling effect. to some degree has been somewhat successful in getting broadcast producers who don't really want to deal with the headache of it. why put on controversial stories that we don't have fight people. >> inside cbs when you were there, how much kickback bosses getting from correspondents about the same attitude that you have? >> i'm in a slightly unique position because i do a different kind of reporting than most are the other correspondents. the ones who do the daily beat reporting had different problems. i'm not sure how much they heard the same complaints from the beat reporters who have different interests are doing the daily news coverage. i do know that investigative reporters at other outlet have the same observations and
complaints. i don't know how much complaining they did to their bosses. >> another april 27th clip. this is david brock who runs media matters. he used to be a conservative and he's now a liberal. before we get to the clip, how much as media matters has been after you? >> i just know they targeted me -- i can't remember the date, i believe it was during fast pain furious and my green energy story. they went from being friendly to me to ceasing communication to publishing kind of nonstop false information, disparaging information about my story. in an effort to controversialize the reports that i was doing
that were having a pretty big impact. when they go after you on a story, usually the story is effective and have an impact, in the case of media matters, the stories they primarily targeted me, they say are shoddy and unfair, have received national recognition from independent journalist. emmy awards or emmy nomination. chose me, the stronger they're going to go up against you, probably the more effective you're reporting is and the more closer you are at getting to the truth. >> here is david brock who runs media matters. >> our donors are funding us because they want fact based journalism and they want push back from conservative information. if people knew a little bit about how we work, i can tell you in the sharyl atkisson case, we're almost 27/7 monitoring the
cross range of national political media. she came on the radar screen on the normal course of events. we noticed a pattern of misinformation of her work. it was all transparent. she never said we were wrong about anything. >> she never said we were wrong about anything. >> i just don't get tied up in these opinion bloggers. i'd be doing that all day long. i decided a long time ago not to go down that road. i think cbs decided the same thing. they share -- they almost create -- again, i think this is a strategy and tactic. they want to despair and disparage a line of reporting. they write a blog and they make allegations. they get another semiblog to repeat what they said. they hope it's repeated in
social media and not the washington post picks it up. now it's a news story. al of those people really started by one interest have made a whole line of reporting look controversial when it wasn't. it was only controversial because they started this campaign about it. cbs told me some time ago that where there's accuracy on the right or groups that are similar, they try not to get wrapped up in that. the problem is when it crosses over into what looks like real news coverage and then some times they do address it. i try not to read it. i don't try to correct. when things are so wrong and so distorted, i don't think there's anything to be gained to correct these things, you can see in my opinion, they're not out for the truth.
they're on a propaganda campaign. any you say will be twisted into the next story that they'll use to try to controversialize and discredit you. i don't see the point in that. >> lot of people made a lot of money are involved on the right and left funding operations like this. there was a lot of money that came from people who are liberal democrats to the group up in new york -- they do journalism. david brock said we're interested in the facts. what's the public supposed to do with all of this? what would you say to your 19-year-old daughter, mom, how am i supposed to understand this? >> well, i try to make my daughter and she seems pretty savvy about questioning anything you see initially.
i think sort of swimming around and trying to correct it all and separate it all, from my viewpoint it's a futile task. they see what they want to see. >> does it have impact on who people pick running the government? >> social media? >> all of it. >> i don't know, it may. people do live and die. how heavily they rely on what they're seeing, i don't know. i think they're seeking. lot of people have said, they're seeking out opinions that agree with them. once again, it doesn't really bother me that people if they support a left wing blog or a right wing block group. they want to hear that talk. they're free to do it. i don't care about those at all.
put out the neutral material that i think is neutral. >> going to show a mini clip from an interview you did with "the daily signal." my question is, didn't you give david brock everything he wanted when you did this with the organize funded by the heritage foundation? >> when whistleblowers in the government or wash dog inside the government simply do their job, too often is seems they can't. because the rest of the government can come down and influence what they're trying to do. >> up next, sharyl atkisson talks about her story for "the daily signal" on premature babies, ending saying -- >> i think this is hugely important. the idea that research is
conducted by prestigious organizations and approved by the government. i think that's a big moment in the research world. it triggered this re-examination what of what human test research subjects are told. >> is that your home? >> yes, that's my house. >> had the emmy awards behind you on the mound. why did you accept work for the heritage foundation? which owns the daily signal? >> they offered an opportunity -- they were interested -- my ideas for underserved or and under reporting. it was put through an editorial process. what i've said to organizations that approached me is, will you look at an individual story and see if you want it. if you don't, you don't change it.
you don't sensor it or stop it. i'll take it somewhere else. if you want it, for fact checking and so on, you can have it. there's an important story, i thought, had nothing to do with politics. that a lot of the media shied away from and it deserved a lot more attention. i don't care what the right wing or left wring bloggers thing. if i design my journalism around that, i wouldn't cover anything. >> do you have an ongoing obligation? >> no. >> they pay you just to do these series? >> yes, in essence. in essence, they bought a particular story. there's no ongoing obligation on either of our part to do anything else. >> what was the full story beyond what we heard? >> the full story was a study on premature infants that largely into single african-american mothers and went into c-sections
and according to them and government ethics office investigated, the consent forms misrepresented the story. the women were told this is just a gathered data. some babies died. increased some of the baby's chance of blindness. the oxygen monitors on premature babies as part of a research for intentionally rigged to give false readings. all of these things violated federal consent rules. >> go back to our early discussion about the freedom of information act which you called foia. does it work at all?
>> i would say foia is 96% broken. occasionally you can get something. i can go a state directly and get material when the federal government won't give it to me. in general it's been used to stall as a tactic. it's pretty much from my purpose anyway, pointless and useless. >> when you were at cbs and you wanted to have a lawsuit filed, what did you have to do? >> i deal with all my stories against powers that be in controverses. i deal with a set of lawyers at cbs. we discuss it. sometimes they help me in crafting the letters to appeal the rejections. if they proved a lawsuit, they would talk to management and we could talk together. then they would have to hire outside counsel.
which is very expensive. it's not a mixed record of success on those cases. that's the process that we would take. >> have you cbs gone to capitol hill saying we need to approve this foia or change this act? >> no. if journalist got together on these key issue and stayed on them. there's little follow up that i see. i do think if we band together as a group, we can change some of these things. there's been an appetite to do that. >> have you found anybody in the obama administration that is in charge of the message where they have a war room to deal with folks like you that are wanting to do this story? >> i sense that they have that. i don't know who is the chief
messager. i think they meet daily more than one a day. i believe they divide up who's going to call which journalist bosses, who's going to call and what the letter is going to say. everyday, not just me and cbs, but other journalist like the associated press or networks. we'll hear objections and comments and critique. on a story that i do, the white house will contact my bureau chief, me directly, president of new division. kind of fan out the correspondents white house. sometimes similarly worded e-mails that they supposedly wrote themselves. someone wrote them and they are all put under the signature and dispatched to various people. that's what i call pushback. that's the thing they're very relentless on.
great managers don't mind to push back. but it does take up a lot of time. i used to say to my boss, unless they come up with a legitimate complaint, can't you just tell them put it in writing. otherwise don't bother me with a lot of these calls. >> did it ever work when you were at cbs. they came to you and said, i got this e-mail from the white house, we can't do this? >> no, it's more subtle self-censorship. where some journalist become so tedious, they don't want to do a story. you get so much pushback, it's heartache. i also think that in discussions that i'm not privy to, there maybe discussions after a last pushback -- they might be offending people they might be
relying on a story in the future. nobody ever told me don't do a story or not do a story because the white house called. >> how often did you do a story complete it and have it edit and ready for air and it never went anywhere? >> over the year it varies. because that happens to everybody, time to time. toward the end, the stories didn't get produced all the way. they just didn't want them. i would have the information. i would be ready to do interviews and ready to do shooting. they rarely got the process. may be a couple of times in the last year. >> erik did a piece on you, sharyl atkisson leaves cbs. back on march 10th. at the end of the piece, he says, appreciate her frustration, have a look at some
data. andrew tyndall's shows that in 2007 atkisson was the 18th most used reporter in major network nightly news with 160 minutes exposure. in 2008 she held at 18th with 145 minutes in 2009 she was 19th for 152. in a quick chat with erik, tyndall said that atkisson tallied 54 minutes on cbs news in 2013. a third in previous totals. that was good enough ranking for her to be 78th among network news reporters. did they ever explain to you why? >> i know why. i know why in a general sense. the bosses that liked wash dog stories on the government and the investigative reporting left, the managers that came in. they did not want these stories.
that was the biggest change. at the same time, this also happened with the transition from the bush administration to the obama administration. lot of things happened. the beats that i had done for so many years that were very popular among viewers and popular among the broadcast show executives at the time, all of that changed. >> it appears to me, i read the weekley ratings online. when katie couric was there, the numbers were there when scott pelley there anchoring. did you have that same experience? >> i read those with a grain of salt. we all do this as a way to make all these sound like you're number one. the numbers are always better. i think may be the total viewership is better. although we're still distant three.
maybe the positioning is the same. i think the difference as we talked about is insignificant. i don't think we've done a lot in cbs and other broadcast have done very much to gain a lot of viewers. if i were a viewer, i don't see much there a lot of nights. they all lead off with the same story. why are you going to watch one over the story. as we much as we talk about it, we still put out stories that are half day old. people have heard about than. i don't think they're doing -- we know we have to do something different and original. >> in the 21 years with cbs, did you notice a difference in the
redactions you would get from people? >> it's very mixed. i would have the head of a broadcast tell me i was the best reporter in the world. but other people that worked on the same broadcast, i could tell didn't care much. >> i was thinking more outside. you get the public's reaction. did that change at all? >> that's a good question. i think, mostly i hang around people that liked me. they always tell me my reporting is good. the thing i noticed the last couple of years that changed, is my friend who are liberal and conservative and people who consider themselves not one. think they're not getting the news. they come up to me, they go why isn't this story on the news. they heard about something else and they want legitimate news organization to tell them the truth about it but no one is reporting on it. i heard that more than ever
probably in the last three or four or five years. >> where do you get your news? >> i hop around a lot on the internet. i look at what people tweet and facebook to me specifically. i visit news sites. i like "washington journal," "washington post." i try to read "new york times." i don't sit and read a whole publication. i see what's out there. i'm also a little bit focused on stories if i'm interested in them or cover them. some of them i ignore them. i can't tell you much about the i.r.s. scandal. i'm a little bit compartmentalized. >> will you work for a network again? >> this may change -- i think my
main goal at this stage in my life and career is to be able to publish stories that have some meaning that are original and may be go against powers that be. and have it be done in a way that's straightforward and not shaped by the efforts that are out there to shape in one direction or another. >> who will be most upset with your book when it comes out? >> that's a good question. lot of my colleagues will like a lot of stuff in there. i don't think there's a whole lot to disagree with. i'm sure you'll find people who do. it's not an attack on journalism. it's not an attack on the network where i work. it's not an attack on the politicians. it's more of an examination what happens in the system. it's to make the public aware that the images that they see on the news and elsewhere everyday
social media, billboards, everywhere, are manipulated by unseen forces that are paid to do this in the way you don't recognize. it's more to get power to people, to recognize what they see and do their own thinking and investigating and research more than trying to tear down an entity or anything like that. >> the book is called "stonewalled" it will be out in november. sharyl atkisson, thank you very much for your time. >> for free transcripts or to give us your comment about this program, visit us at q&a.org.
>> next, british prime minster david cameron taking questions from members of the house of commons. then look at history of iraq, sunnies, shia and kurds. >> during this week's question time, david cameron discusses the escalating violence in iraq and the distant -- and the decision to reengage talks with iran. question time is about 35 minutes. >> questions to the prime minister. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister -- this morning i had