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Posts Tagged ‘Sonya McNair’

Sharyl Attkisson: ‘Unstoppable’ Forces Halted CBS Reporting; Network Responds

AttkissonStelterIn her most recent TV interview, former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson claims politics kept her stories from airing.

“The tendency on the part of some of these managers who have key influences has been they never mind the stories that seem to … go against the grain of the Republican Party,” Attkisson told “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter yesterday. “But they do often seem to feel defensive about, almost, personally defensive on stories that could make the government look bad.”

She pointed to now former-”CBS Evening News” EP Pat Shevlin as one of a number of producers who took issue with her stories that were more critical of the Obama administration; she also cited “heavy-handed editing” practices overseen by producers and managers, including Shevlin.

“It’s hard to say it’s all at the guidance of her, but she is executive producer of the show,” Attkisson added.

“CBS News maintains the highest journalistic standards in what it chooses to put on the air,” CBS News spokesperson Sonya McNair tells TVNewser in response to Attkisson’s claims. “Those standards are applied without fear or favor.”

Attkisson’s “Reliable Sources” interview comes a week after she appeared on FNC’s media affairs show “Media Buzz.” Attkisson is writing a book about her CBS News experience, scheduled for release in November.

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‘CBS Evening News’ EP Pat Shevlin Stepping Down

ShevlinCBSPolitico’s Dylan Byers reports Pat Shevlin is stepping down from “CBS Evening News” just shy of three years as Executive Producer of the show. Byers reports Shevlin sent a memo to her colleagues announcing the move. Shevlin, who has been with CBS News since 1973, is expected to stay with the network.

Shevlin has been EP since June 2011, when Scott Pelley took over as anchor. The show, which remains in third place among the evening newscasts, has seen ratings growth under her tenure, and has won three Emmys.

Asia bureau chief Marsha Cooke recently returned to New York and is likely to take over as EP. Sonya McNair, senior vice president for communications for CBS News, declined to comment on the changes.

(Photo Credit: Richard Howard Photography)

Sharyl Attkisson Resigns From CBS

SharylAttkissonCBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has resigned after more than two decades at the network.

“CBS News veteran Sharyl Attkisson is leaving the news division to pursue other endeavors,” CBS News spokesperson Sonya McNair said in a statement provided to TVNewser. “We appreciate her many contributions and we wish her well.”

Attkisson, a Washington-based investigative correspondent, called her time at CBS News “one of life’s great privileges” and said she is “grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had.”

Politico’s Dylan Byers reports the departure is the result of several months of “hard-fought” contract negotiations:

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 packages on television.

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.

CBS News announced last year that Attkisson’s computer had been accessed by an “unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012.” At the time, Attkisson said she was “outraged” about the “very serious and disturbing matter.”

CBS News Internal Review Finds Benghazi Story ‘Deficient in Several Respects’

LoganApologyAl Ortiz, the Executive Director of Standards and Practices for CBS News has released his report on the discredited “60 Minutes” story on the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

“My review found that the Benghazi story aired by 60 Minutes on October 27 was deficient in several respects,” Ortiz writes in his report summary, which was obtained by TVNewser.

Ortiz questions why Lara Logan and her team did not do a better job obtaining an FBI report which differed from the story Dylan Davies told them.

“It’s possible that reporters and producers with better access to inside FBI sources could have found out that Davies had given varying and conflicting accounts of his story,” Ortiz writes. “Logan and producer Max McClellan told me they found no reason to doubt Davies’ account and found no holes in his story. But the team did not sufficiently vet Davies’ account of his own actions and whereabouts that night.”

“This crucial point – his admission that he had not told his employer the truth about his own actions – should have been a red flag in the editorial vetting process.”

Ortiz also discovered that a month before starting work on the Benghazi story, in Oct. 2012, Logan gave a speech in which she argued that the U.S. Government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda, and urging action in response to the attack in Benghazi.

“From a CBS News Standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story,” he writes.

CBS News spokesperson Sonya McNair tells TVNewser, “The 60 MINUTES journalistic review is concluded, and we are implementing ongoing changes based on its results.”

Read Ortiz’s summary of the report after the jump…

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Why Byron Pitts Joined ABC News

CBS News veteran Byron Pitts says he jumped ship to ABC for three reasons, in order of importance: “God, diversity and Diane Sawyer.”

Pitts, 52, the lone correspondent of color on “60 Minutes” and a CBS staffer since 1997, officially joined ABC yesterday as chief national correspondent. He begins April 15.

In addition to reporting, Pitts will anchor prime-time news specials as well as fill in as news reader on “Good Morning America” and on weekend news. He signed a four-year deal with a “significant” salary bump, he says.

A devout man, Pitts prays over all major decisions. ABC was no exception. “For me, God is the ultimate closer,” he says. “Once I felt I had His blessing, it was full steam ahead. I’m grateful for my time at CBS, and I’m excited about this opportunity grace has provided.”

In the Gospel According to Pitts, diversity ranks a strong No. 2. In his talks with ABC News president Ben Sherwood, Pitts says he was impressed that Sherwood made a point to bring up his (Sherwood’s) commitment to the hot-button issue.

“It was encouraging to have a network executive talk to me, openly and with enthusiasm, about the importance of racial diversity,” says Pitts. “I never had that conversation at CBS.”

Not with his division leaders, anyway.

Pitts says he and CBS Corp. chieftain Les Moonves have discussed diversity, and he admires Moonves’ passion about it. As for CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager and his lieutenant, David Rhodes, here’s how Pitts puts it:

“I don’t want to seem critical. They were certainly nice and supportive of me. But the facts are the facts. Sixteen years ago, when I joined CBS, there were 10 people of color on the air. Now there are seven. Why is that? It’s discouraging. America is becoming more diverse, not less diverse. “

According to CBS News spokesperson Sonya McNair, CBS has “more than double” Pitts’ estimate of seven correspondents of color. “We wish Byron well,” she adds. ABC News has a total of 29, says division rep David Ford.

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Richard Huff Leaves the Media Beat, Joins the Media at CBS News

Richard Huff, with WCBS TV anchor Cindy Hsu, at the 2006 New York Emmy Awards

Richard Huff, the longtime TV writer and critic for the New York Daily News is moving to “the other side” and the communications arm of CBS News. Next month, Huff joins as a executive director overseeing PR for CBS News shows including “48 Hours Mystery, “CBS Sunday Morning” and CBS News Productions and Primetime Specials.

“Richard is a journalist of exceptional caliber, with a broad and substantial range of experience,” said Sonya McNair, SVP of Communications for CBS News, to whom he’ll report.

“This is the right move for me to the right place and surrounded by the right people,” said Huff in a press release — the kind he’s used to reading but will soon be writing.

Huff was most recently Deputy Features Editor at the Daily News. Huff joined the paper in 1993 and was promoted to TV editor in 2001. Before the News, Huff wrote for Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

Sonya McNair named head of communications for CBS News

With the departure last week of Jeff Ballabon as CBS News communications SVP, his #2 in the unit, Sonya McNair gets the top job. McNair will oversee all media and talent relations, as well as public affairs for CBS News, including strategic planning, day-to-day publicity, internal and external communications.

McNair has worked in public relations roles at TIME Inc., The New Yorker, Fox Broadcasting and spent 16 years ABC News. She joined CBS News in 2009.

Release after the jump…

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