May 28, 2008

In discussion of the revelations in Scott McClellan's new book that the media was too easy on the administration in the run of to the war, Congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin on Anderson Cooper 360 admitted that she was pressured by the network executives to frame her pieces in a way that made President Bush look positive, even editing her pieces to favor the administration.

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Cooper: Jessica, McClellan took the press to task for upholding their reputation. He writes "the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington. The choice of whether to go to war in Iraq...the 'liberal' media didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served." Dan Bartlett, former Bush advisor, called the allegation “total crap.” What's your take? Did the press corps drop the ball?

Yellin: I think the press corps dropped the ball in the beginning when the lead up to war began, uh the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the President's high approval ratings and my own experience at the White House was that the higher the President's approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives, and I was not at this network at the time, but the more pressure I had from these executives to put on positive stories about the President. I think over time....

Cooper: You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the President?

Yellin: Not in that exact...they wouldn't say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive. Yes. That was my experience.

In case you were curious, Yellin worked for MSNBC until July 2003 and then worked for ABC News until July 2007, when she moved to CNN.

UPDATE: Will Bunch asks who will follow up on Jessica Yellin's stunning revelations? How can we force the media to investigate itself over the manipulation of pre-way journalism? (link fixed)

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