Politics

Top Obama official’s brother is president of CBS News, may drop reporter over Benghazi coverage

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The brother of a top Obama administration official is also the president of CBS News, and the network may be days away from dropping one of its top investigative reporters for covering the administration’s scandals too aggressively.

CBS News executives have reportedly expressed frustration with their own reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, who has steadily covered the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack in Libya since late last year.

“Network sources” told Politico Wednesday that CBS executives feel Attkisson’s Benghazi coverage is bordering on advocacy, and Attkisson “can’t get some of her stories on the air.”

Attkisson, who is in talks to leave the network before her contract expires, has been attempting to figure out who changed the Benghazi talking points for more than five months.

“We still don’t know who changed talking points but have had at least 4 diff explanations so far,” Attkisson tweeted on November 27, 2012.

But on Friday, ABC News reported that the Benghazi talking points went through 12 revisions before they were used on the public. The White House was intimately involved in that process, ABC reported, and the talking points were scrubbed free of their original references to a terror attack.

That reporting revealed that President Obama’s deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes — brother of CBS News president David Rhodes — was instrumental in changing the talking points in September 2012.

ABC’s reporting revealed that Ben Rhodes, who has a masters in fiction from NYU, called a meeting to discuss the talking points at the White House on September 15, 2012.

“We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation,” Rhodes wrote to his colleagues in the Obama administration. “We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.”

Ben Rhodes, a 35-year old New York City native and former Giuliani staffer who has worked for Obama since the president’s tenure in the U.S. Senate, has established himself as a hawkish force on the Obama foreign policy team, advocating for military intervention in Libya during the president’s first term and reportedly advocating for intervention in Syria, as well.

But despite his hawkish views, Rhodes identifies himself first and foremost as a strategist and mouthpiece for the president’s agenda.

“My main job, which has always been my job, is to be the person who represents the president’s view on these issues,” Rhodes said in March.

David Rhodes has been the president of CBS News since February 2011.

Neither the White House nor CBS News responded to requests for comment for this report.

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