The Columbia Journalism Review reports back from a CNN discussion involving Jessica Yellin (formerly of ABC News) and Anderson Cooper:
YELLIN: When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in 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 news 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.
ABC News is a business. I understand that you're not going to sell a lot of ads criticizing a popular president during the run-up to war. That's the way the world works. However, file this under yet another reason why professional journalists need to recognize why alternative, unpopular, unprofitable news sources -- like blogs -- are important.