Saturday, May 31, 2008


Network Execs Killed Stories Critical of White House

May 29, 2008
Categories: White House

CNN's Yellin: Network execs killed critical White House stories

On Wednesday night, CNN's Jessica Yellin talked to Anderson Cooper about Scott McClellan's tell-all memoir and agreed with the former press secretary that White House reporters "dropped the ball" during the run-up to war.

But Yellin went much further, revealing that news executives — presumably at ABC News, where she'd worked from July 2003 to August 2007 — actively pushed her not do hard-hitting pieces on the Bush administration. [UPDATE: Yellin now says it was MSNBC execs, not ABC]

"The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings," Yellin said.

"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 news executives to put on positive stories about the president, I think over time...."

But then a shocked Cooper jumped in, asking, "You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?"

"Not in that exact.... They wouldn't say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces," Yellin said. "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."

UPDATE: TVNewser reports that Jessica Yellin is going to post a blog item shortly on that will clarify her remarks. From what I'm hearing, she'll write that it was MSNBC execs, not ABC that she was referring to last night. Yellin worked at MSNBC during the run-up to war, but then moved on to ABC that summer, where she stayed for four years. UPDATE 2: Yellin confirms this.

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