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The Smear: Sharyl Attkisson Talks Fake News, Hidden Political Agendas in New Book 

The Smear: Sharyl Attkisson Talks Fake News, Hidden Political Agendas in New Book  Read Transcript


Behind many political stories lurks a hidden agenda.

This disturbing movement is exposed by Sharyl Attkisson

in her latest book.

And as a journalist with more than 30 years experience,

she has the stories to back it up.

"The Smear."

Why the title?

I think it encapsulates this trend that I talk about

that's happening in Washington D.C. but has an impact, really,

all over the world.

JENNA BROWDER: In our one-on-one,

the hard-hitting investigative journalist told me

the ultimate goal is control.

There's an industry that is paid to go after and target

journalists, whistleblowers, political figures, whatever

it may be, and inundate our consciousness

and the images we see to try to ruin, destroy, or smear

the idea that they don't like or the person

who's delivering it on behalf of paid corporate or political

interests.

JENNA BROWDER: In her latest book,

she pulls back the curtain on how sophisticated operatives

work to establish story lines, manipulate

journalists, and ultimately shape what you think.

I quote one of the smear artists himself,

it kind of gave me chills when he said everything you see

is put there for a reason.

He said, it's like a movie that every--

it's like a scene in a movie that the images

that you come across, whether it's what a comedian jokes

about on a national program, whether it's social media,

whether it's on the news, he says

it's put there for a reason, often by somebody who paid

a lot of money to put it there.

JENNA BROWDER: She points to this past election

as a primary example of the smear machine operating

at full speed.

SHARYL ATTKISSON: was the idea that

maybe in the past conservatives have had the edge.

But for 2016 going into that race,

all seem to agree, Democrats had control of the messaging,

particularly when it came to using the news media.

To the extent conservatives try to control the news message,

yes, they would like to just as much,

but they don't have as much of a receptive ear in the news media

so they're not able to do it as effectively.

And what you see in the book, I've used their own statistics,

from e-mails returned to FOIA requests

or sometimes exposed by Wikileaks,

these groups say how they were able to influence

the narrative.

They name names, they talk about the news publications

and networks that publish the stories

they wanted them to publish.

I've even published e-mails between journalists

and these interests that they're supposed

to cover showing what I call transactional journalism, which

I think is ethically inappropriate where they're

making deals with the news makers

to cover things a certain way.

So help me God.

JENNA BROWDER: Although Democrats

may have been more effective, Republicans ultimately won.

Attkisson says this could be because voters

are becoming more media savvy.

Are people getting wise to these techniques?

Are they seeing through some of the narratives?

Because I think it's fair to say 90% of the news narrative

was in one direction and yet Donald Trump still

managed to overcome what this huge machine had built

against him, Democrats, Republicans, and the media,

to become president.

JENNA BROWDER: Today, one reoccurring narrative

is Russia.

President Trump says that this Russian probe

is a political witch hunt.

You have James Comey, who admitted to leaking documents

to spur on the special counsel and then

the special counsel is Robert Mueller who's

one of his friends and then Robert Mueller goes and hires

friends of the Clintons.

Is President Trump on to something?

Is this a political witch hunt?

Yes he is on to something.

President Trump is correct when he

says that this is a witch hunt in some respect based

on the evidence to date and based on President Obama's

own intel experts, who not only didn't see

any evidence of collusion between Donald Trump

and the Russians by their own account,

but also by the account of all public information, Democrats

and Republicans alike, who haven't seen the connection

and yet you've seen it dominate the news narrative.

I call it like "The Brady Bunch" Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, you

just hear Russia, Russia, Russia all the time.

And there have been wildly incorrect reports

from some formerly top well-respected news

outlets in the nation about all of this.

And in some cases, they haven't even

corrected or done mea culpas when what they reported

has been found to be false.

It's not that the Russia question doesn't deserve

some investigation, but the coverage for it

is so wildly disproportionate to the evidence at large.

JENNA BROWDER: Whether it's Russia coverage

or any other story, Attkisson says

to step back and ask questions.

And when it comes to so-called experts--

Are fact checkers really trustworthy?

I quote some surveys and research

that's been done on this that found, indeed,

the fact checkers that hold themselves out

to be independent, where you may turn to say I really

want the truth about this or that so I can go to a fact

checker, turns out they're not so independent in many cases.

Take "Snopes," for example.

We found instances where they're very good at fact checking

some things but have been co-opted by special interests

on some topics where they put out

incorrect, misleading, biased, or even false information.

JENNA BROWDER: A big one to watch out for, she says,

is a source many of us know well.

You look at Wikipedia, some people say for the facts,

even though they know volunteer editors are at play.

But they don't know the extent to which corporate interests

and big PR firms pretend to be volunteer editors

and have developed strong editing privileges to control

the pages of certain topics and people

so that they smear some people or protect others

from having negative things published so that they're

furthering certain ideas of paid interest

that you don't know about.

JENNA BROWDER: If there's one thing

Attkisson wants you to learn from her book it's this.

Nearly every image that's put before them,

in the words of the people who operate in this universe,

is put before them for a reason by an interest that is often

not disclosed.

And that should make you question

when you see themes and memes coming up on social media

and common ideas expressed over and over again,

that should make you question, who's behind it?

Who wants me to think this way?

And what is their agenda?

She says asking questions doesn't necessarily

mean a story is false, but it's important to make

sure you're getting the whole story

and approaching almost every story you

read with a healthy dose of skepticism.

For CBN News, I'm Jenna Browder.

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