CBS Proudly Accepts AIM’s Award, Despite Controversy

Accuracy in Media

As reported in a recent posting, Accuracy in Media presented its annual Reed Irvine Media Awards for Investigative and Grassroots Journalism amidst a trumped up controversy reported in The Washington Post, Politico and Big Journalism. Awards were presented to Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News for her investigative reporting on Operation Fast and Furious as well as Solyndra and other “green energy” projects in which the Obama administration has invested Americans’ taxpayer dollars; and Dana Loesch, Editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism, for her tireless work as a grassroots journalist.

The pro-Democratic Party media watchdog, Media Matters, led the effort to browbeat Attkisson and CBS into backing out of accepting the award. They claim her reporting was shoddy and that CBS shouldn’t allow her to accept an award from a partisan group, as they call Accuracy in Media. Yet as AIM’s Cliff Kincaid recently exposed, the head of Media Matters, David Brock, has created a so-called Democratic “Super PAC” specifically devoted to electing Democrats and defeating Republicans.

Kincaid, the director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, said at the awards event, AIM is nonpartisan, independent and yes, conservative.

It turned out that only a few hours before the event took place on Thursday, Ms. Attkisson contacted us at AIM to inform us she had been called away on assignment, and was sending someone in her place to accept the award on her behalf. That person was Chris Isham, the Washington bureau chief for CBS News. Chris was very gracious in accepting the award, saying, “Thanks very much, Roger, and thanks for the plug for CBSnews.com. Sharyl was very sorry not to be here today. She is traveling out of town on assignment. I am going to accept this award on her behalf and on behalf of CBS News. Sharyl will be donating the proceeds of this award ($1,000) to the family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry (applause). As many of you may know, this murder was connected to the Fast and Furious Operation. In fact it was Terry’s death in December of 2010 that really motivated a number of whistleblowers to come forward and talk to Sharyl and members of Congress about what was going on and really generated the story and really allowed us and congressional investigators to dig into this and drill down on this operation. Sharyl has spoken with the family of Agent Terry and let them know that they will be receiving the proceeds. They were very heartened and heartened that people are still talking about this issue and focused on it. CBS News is very proud of Sharyl’s groundbreaking reporting, as you’ve described it. It represents the best at CBS News—the kind of original reporting that we are extremely proud of. That we are fully committed to and will remain.”

That was hardly a repudiation of AIM, or the award. CBS is very deserving of sharing in this award with Sharyl, and we fully endorse that.

Newsbusters Tim Graham gave a great analysis of the double standard—media have no problem accepting awards from liberal groups that overwhelmingly favor liberal journalists.

“This is not the liberal position,” wrote Graham, “when, say, journalists accept awards from their ‘progressive’ activist groups like the ‘Maggie Awards’ handed out by Planned Parenthood (Rachel Maddow). Or Barbara Walters [accepting] a GLAAD Media Award in 2008.”

He added, “Some journalism professors would try to suggest that journalists should only accept awards like the Peabody Awards or the Pulitzer Prizes—even when those judgment panels are dominated by liberal media and political elites.”

Media Matters acted as if they thought their campaign had succeeded, in an article titled “CBS Pulls Attkisson From CPAC Award Event.” But as Big Journalism’s Dan Riehl pointed out, they offered no evidence to support their claim that this was anything other than what Attkisson and Isham said. “If Media Matters wanted to report that CBS was somehow behind Attkisson not attending in person to receive the award,” wrote Riehl, “it’s their responsibility to provide documentation of same, assuming truth matters at MMfA. As many believe, their handling of the non-event indicates truth doesn’t matter to Eric Boehlert and Media Matters at all.”

In addition, The Huffington Post and Politico wrote about the event, focusing on the fact that Attkisson didn’t attend the ceremony.

We will be posting the full video of the event early in the coming week. But if you want to read more about the Fast and Furious story, you should read our October-A 2011 AIM Report, which includes video of Sharyl Attkisson’s powerful interview with ATF agent and whistleblower John Dodson.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org.

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