(above: MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in 2008)
Not so long ago, in a land far, far away, many in the liberal press embraced me as one of their own. When I did reports--as I often did--that they perceived as targeting their opponents, they were ready with praise.
One such example is the MSNBC Rachel Maddow segment cited below. Maddow devoted seven minutes of her program to recounting the investigation I had conducted for CBS News about Republican Congressman Steve Buyer's suspicious charity.
[quote]"Sharyl Attkisson of CBS--go! Go! Go! Go!"--Rachel Maddow, MSNBC[/quote]
The liberal Talking Points Memo also cited the report and credited me with "asking tough questions."
Additionally, dating back many years, the conservative media watchdog Media Research Center leveled accusations that my reporting was liberally biased.
I welcomed Maddow's praise, as did many of my CBS News colleagues and superiors, just as I welcomed praise from conservatives on other investigations I conducted.
But when those investigations--the ones that touched upon Democrats rather than Republicans--proved especially damaging to their cause, the liberal propaganda campaign began to controversialize my reporting and create a new, false image. They invented a narrative that ignores any reporting I do that doesn't fit, such as the story that received an investigative Emmy award in 2013: an undercover investigation into fundraising practices of Republican freshmen.
The information on the diverse mix of stories I've covered over the years is, of course, publicly available. Yet some in the media simply parrot, unquestioned, the false talking points generated by the propagandists and their surrogates in the murky online media world.
In short, this proves the "Stonewalled" point, as discussed in my book. (Skip to p. 352)
Watch the Rachel Maddow segment praising my report on Rep. Buyer
Rachel Maddow: "When Congressman Steve Buyer of Indiana looks back on 2009, he'll be able to say that this was his breakthrough year. This was the year that all of America learned that it looks like 'by-ur' but it sounds like 'boo-yur.' This was the year that he got a national profile for all the wrong reasons. First, there was his argument that smoking tobacco is really not that different than smoking lettuce. Yes he is a big recipient of R.J. Reynolds donations--why do you ask? Then, there was his outrageous argument that health care reform was a secret plot to hurt veterans. What's making him really nationally famous now is his charity: the Frontier Foundation, which was supposedly founded to give Indiana kids college scholarships, but which in its six years of existence has yet to actually give out a single one, even though it's raised over 800-thousand dollars. Last night, on the CBS Evening News, investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson interviewed Congressman Buyer about his foundation asking him first why the offices of the mysterious foundation were empty."
(Clip from Attkisson's CBS report)
Attkisson: "Why doesn't the Frontier Foundation have a physical address currently?"
Buyer: "Well, you know, I think... first of all, you gotta ask the foundation that question. The, uh the foundation, the president of the foundation called me, um, last Thursday night I think the 29th and they'd held a board meeting, she wanted to tell me about some of the positive things that they were doing. And one of which is they wanted to immediately relocate. And they did. They moved out that night. I think that was a good thing, because that was, that's about, you know, I spoke with the foundation when they, I told the folks in Indiana that they, um, I would do a review, um, I'm so focused on uh helping them achieve their goal of a million dollar endowment that you know, I didn't pay as much attention to appearances as I should have."
Maddow: "Appearances. What things look like. A reasonable concern, it has to be said, when his 'foundation' is raising money from companies who have interests before the Congressman right out of the Congressman's campaign office."
(Clip from Attkisson's report)
Attkisson: "In retrospect, do you think it was inappropriate that they were co-located with your campaign office?"
Buyer: "You know, I guess I was so focused um on them uh wanting to make sure they could save money, you know?"
Maddow: "You know? They could save money. The foundation spent more than 100-thousand dollars on fundraising and sending the Congressman out to play golf in exotic locales with big donors. While at the same time doling out exactly zero dollars in scholarship money, the cause for which it was purportedly raising all those funds."
(Clip from Attkisson's report)
Attkisson: "Where did the $25-thousand dollars to start the foundation come from?"
Buyer: "You know what? I was asked that question and I don't recall."
Attkisson: "How can you not know where the..."
Buyer: "I don't.."
Attkisson: "Twenty-five thousand..."
Buyer: "I don't, seriously, I-I don't recall. It could've been from PhRMA, it could've been one of the companies, I don't know, you'll have to ask the foundation with regard..."
Attkisson: "The foundation won't answer our questions. I've asked, I've talked to the foundation."
Buyer: "It had to be from, from one of those ma-- major donors, okay? But I don't remember."
Attkisson: "Can you find out? This is something that would seem to be important. Can you find out for us after the interview today?"
Buyer: "First of all, please ask the foundation that question but I don't recall."
Maddow: "The foundation did email CBS after the interview to say the 25 grand seed money for the 'foundation' came from PhRMA, the drug lobby, which has actually donated $200-thousand dollars to the foundation, and which hired the Congressman's son to be its federal affairs manager in 2008, and which lobbies on drug regulations before the House Energy and Commerce Committee of which Congressman Buyer is a member."
(Clip from Attkisson's report)
Attkisson: "One reason it's controversial, from what I can tell, all of the donors have interests before committees that you send on in Congress. Why is that?"
Buyer: "Well, uh, the committees in which were are, not the committees, the corporations in which, uh, provided support, uh, as I said were those original, original companies and I, uh, I also would say that these companies of whom have contributed, uh, do not assume, I've seen your Follow the Money piece, ha, before, I saw what you did to Obama, please do not assume that if a company contributes to the foundation that somehow that's some type of influence on what I'm about to do."
Maddow: "No influence, you say? This is your cue, Sharyl Attkisson of CBS--go! Go! Go! Go!"
(Clip from Attkisson's report)
Attkisson: "In '07, you helped kill a three year ban on advertising new drugs. In '08 you sponsored the Safeguarding America's Pharmaceutical Act, which was one of the pharmaceutical industry's top priorities. This year, you've co-sponsored tougher penalties for counterfeit drugs, all after these generous donations from the pharmaceutical industry to the foundation."
Buyer: "Who I am and my core beliefs do not change. They're the same, I'm the same person I am before I came into office, I'm the same person now, I'll be the same person when I walk out of office. So people support who you are and what you believe in. And so, trying to match up legislation like that is, is, erroneous. You shouldn't, you shouldn't do that, Sharyl, I think that's I think it's wrong."
Maddow: "What's not wrong, according to Congressman Buyer, are the links between the foundation that doesn't give out any scholarships and the tobacco industry that donates to the foundation anyway, and, yes, Buyer's committee has jurisdiction over tobacco regulation as well."
(Attkisson clip begins)
Attkisson: "Tobacco interests: tobacco interests have given tens of thousands of dollars to your foundation. Last April, you opposed the bill to give FDA authority to regulate tobacco. You instead sponsored an R.J. Reynolds supported alternative and R.J. Reynolds is a donor--"
Buyer: "I created this. I created, no one else created this, I came up with trying to create a new public health um position on tobacco. You're conducting an interview here that is picking and choosing, um areas that may try to fit a story. And you're trying to fit a story whereby 'jeez, if I just Follow the Money, I can show how it influences a member of Congress. And you're, and you're ignoring the fact that PhRMA, the largest contributor of the foundation is supporting Obamacare, for which I vehemently suppose, oppose. So if you go to the air and print your story without telling that side of it, then this is not a fair and balanced story, I just want you to know that. Now, what I'm doing right now, is, is, I'm looking at and I spoke with uh the president of the foundation on things that we can do to address people's concerns with regard to appearance."
Maddow: "CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson says she would have asked Congressman Buyer more questions except that the interview ended abruptly when the Congressman got up and rushed out to a Congressional meeting or something. Congressman Steve Buyer is getting more and more famous all the time now. Maybe this is karma for him trying to scare veterans."