When media narratives became more important than facts

The following is an excerpt of my article in Epoch Times.

The day that I told CBS News I wished to leave my job as investigative correspondent ahead of my contract, I didn’t give a reason. I didn’t see the point because the problem wasn’t fixable.

Nor was it isolated to CBS News.

My own take is that—as our industry has changed in ways that have become undeniable to most—I was a bit of the canary in the coal mine. By that, I mean I believe I was among the first to really pay attention to the increasingly effective operations to shape and censor news—the movements to establish narratives rather than follow facts—and to see the growing influence of smear operations, political interests, and corporate interests on the news.

It’s not that I’m smarter than my peers, and I’m surely far less smart than many, but my particular brand of off-narrative reporting happened to draw the intense attention of the smear operators and propagandists, so I began to study it.

A case in point: the smear that was promulgated when I left CBS. It was often incorrectly reported that I told CBS management I was quitting due to liberal media bias. That false story turned out to be convenient for both political sides, and largely survives today. It simply wasn’t rooted in fact. And I don’t recall reporters even asking me whether it was true. Once a few articles reported that it was, others simply copied the claim and adopted it as if established fact, eventually without attribution. Now there would be no point in trying to clarify it. After all, Wikipedia says it’s true. No going back from that.

Powerful smear groups and certain interests—including some within CBS at the time—started the narrative that I was “conservative,” not because they necessarily believed it, but as a tool to “controversialize” the reporting I was doing that was contrary to powerful interests. The idea is that if I can be portrayed as a partisan, then my reporting can be more easily dismissed. (Continued)

Read the rest of the article at Epoch Times by clicking the link below:


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11 thoughts on “When media narratives became more important than facts”

  1. Sharyl, you have managed to explain exactly how the country is working these days. I admire your courage because of what you and your family are going through. I am but one voice in a large group that supports your efforts and commend you for continuing to tell the truth no matter where the negative comments come from.

  2. Ms. Attikisson,
    You are a genius! The information and insight you provide is so refreshing and inspiring, Really miss the show you had on Sundays!

    1. Hello R – Sheryl’s program is still on Sunday mornings in my market, Fox Broadcast network, 10:00 am et, following Fox News Sunday. Very important show, I dvr it.

  3. Just read your article on Epoch Times and enjoyed it very much. Mainstream media typifies what you are talking about. To get real news I watch your weekly program “Full Measure” and Bill O’Reilly’s podcast. I believe your reporting to be mainstream and middle of the road and cannot tell your political leanings from your program and, in my opinion, that’s the way a reporter should report.. Your reporting strikes me as objective, fair, and non-political.

  4. Sharyl, you are still the best investigative reporter I know! I know you’ve taken some heat for your unbiased reporting, and I am grateful. Thanks for all you do.

    1. I will admit I first started paying attention to you because of the conservative voices that spoke out on your behalf. But I think true objectivity doesn’t belong to any one side, and courageous reporters like you and Lara Logan are going to ruffle the feathers of anyone whose sacred cow you happen to be goring. Trust in the media is in the gutter right now, but there are still a few like yourself who have proven their integrity. Thank you for your commitment to the truth.

  5. Like a panicked, drowning victim, the old, established media outlets are grasping at whatever they can to stay alive.

    Unfortunately, that often means embellishing ‘truths,’ and outright fabricating stories to cut through the noise in our, (aka their audience’s), lives. Because without it, they don’t sell advertisements and ultimately choke on diminishing profits.

    When you’re dying, the proper dissemination of the truth becomes less of a priority. Survival trumps all.

    This is how otherwise good people convince themselves these changes are necessary.

    So year after year, the bias skews further; the truth refracted more and more until it barely represents anything but the truth.

    Sharyl, you represent a new hope. Speaking truth with pure intent. Willing to stay anchored while these institutions slip you by.

    May you continue your pursuit of truth without obstruction or malice.

  6. Alexander Horvat

    I also left the MSM in 1985, ran an alternative option in magazine form 1995-2000. Congrats on having the moral standards and courage to at first fight and later leave the citadels of deception that the MSM has now become.
    America and the world seems to be waking up from a slumber of obeying versus thinking and in time people like you are going to play ever increasing roles in reestablishing a closer connection to the truth. As the pursuit of such a noble goal entails waves of disbelief for many this is going to take time. Hence, I phrased the higher standard of journalism you provide and what I attempted years ago as the pursuit of truth.
    I haven’t given it up writing about it yet either, continue the struggle, some will listen and there will always be the followers of tyranny, for they find it hard to think independently. Keep up the great work.

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