Sharyl Attkison, formerly of CBS News, is one of a very few journalists in the mainstream media who has shown real integrity in her research and reporting, for which she has also been the subject of controversy and slander for refusing to follow the drumbeat of the mainstream media narrative. She often represents what a true journalist can and should do: seek the truth of any story, make it clear and understandable without dumbing down, and report it. For her, news is that which people must have, simply because it is helpful information, and not politically calculated propaganda.
The wishful thinking epidemic that was Russiagate gripped the American press (and many international outlets as well) for over two years. Whether arguing for it or against it, everyone in the media was locked in the struggle that was always known by many people to be a hoax.
However, we learned that just because something is false does not mean it can not be believed. In political media, as we mentioned in another piece, truth is subjective to many people, and emotional passions define thought and opinion, in effect, the exact opposite of what normal cognitive people should do. The effects of this disinformation campaign on the American people have yet to be ascertained.
Ms. Attkison offers here an opinion piece that hits the mark pretty well on some aspects of what happened in this story. While by no means a complete overview, her insights are extremely valuable and we reprint them in full here. We gratefully acknowledge The Hill for running her piece, which follows:
With the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe now known to a significant degree, it seems apologies are in order.
However, judging by the recent past, apologies are not likely forthcoming from the responsible parties.
In this context, it matters not whether one is a supporter or a critic of President Trump.
Whatever his supposed flaws, the rampant accusations and speculation that shrouded Trump’s presidency, even before it began, ultimately have proven unfounded. Just as Trump said all along.
Yet, each time Trump said so, some of us in the media lampooned him. We treated any words he spoke in his own defense as if they were automatically to be disbelieved because he had uttered them. Some even declared his words to be “lies,” although they had no evidence to back up their claims.
We in the media allowed unproven charges and false accusations to dominate the news landscape for more than two years, in a way that was wildly unbalanced and disproportionate to the evidence.
We did a poor job of tracking down leaks of false information. We failed to reasonably weigh the motives of anonymous sources and those claiming to have secret, special evidence of Trump’s “treason.”
As such, we reported a tremendous amount of false information, always to Trump’s detriment.
And when we corrected our mistakes, we often doubled down more than we apologized. We may have been technically wrong on that tiny point, we would acknowledge. But, in the same breath, we would insist that Trump was so obviously guilty of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet that the technical details hardly mattered.
So, a round of apologies seem in order.
Apologies to Trump on behalf of those in the U.S. intelligence community, including the Department of Justice and the FBI, which allowed the weaponization of sensitive, intrusive intelligence tools against innocent citizens such as Carter Page, an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Apologies also to Page himself, to Jerome Corsi, Donald Trump Jr., and other citizens whose rights were violated or who were unfairly caught up in surveillance or the heated pursuit of charges based on little more than false, unproven opposition research paid for by Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Apologies for the stress on their jobs and to their families, the damage to their reputations, the money they had to spend to hire legal representation and defend themselves from charges for crimes they did not commit.
Apologies on behalf of those in the intelligence community who leaked true information out of context to make Trump look guilty, and who sometimes leaked false information to try to implicate or frame him.
Apologies from those in the chain of command at the FBI and the Department of Justice who were supposed to make sure all information presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is verified but did not do so.
Apologies from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court judges who are supposed to serve as one of the few checks and balances to prevent the FBI from wiretapping innocent Americans. Whether because of blind trust in the FBI or out of ignorance or even malfeasance, they failed at this important job.
Apologies to the American people who did not receive the full attention of their government while political points were being scored; who were not told about some important world events because they were crowded out of the news by the persistent insistence that Trump was working for Russia.
Apologies all the way around.
And now, with those apologies handled — are more than apologies due?
Should we try to learn more about those supposed Russian sources who provided false “intel” contained in the “dossier” against Trump, Page and others? Should we learn how these sources came to the attention of ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who built the dossier and claimed that some of the sources were close to Putin?
When and where did Steele meet with these high-level Russian sources who provided the apparently false information?
Are these the people who actually took proven, concrete steps to interfere in the 2016 election and sabotage Trump’s presidency, beginning in its earliest days?
Just who conspired to put the “dossier” into the hands of the FBI? Who, within our intel community, dropped the ball on verifying the information and, instead, leaked it to the press and presented it to the FISC as if legitimate?
“Sorry” hardly seems to be enough.
Will anyone be held accountable?
Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist, author of The New York Times best-sellers “The Smear” and “Stonewalled,” and host of Sinclair’s Sunday TV program, “Full Measure.”