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CNN's Yellin On Run-Up To War: Corporate Execs Pushed For Positive Coverage Of Bush

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[UPDATE: Yellin responds in an update, below.]

CNN's congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin, appearing on last night's Anderson Cooper 360 as a part of a panel discussing Scott McClellan's new book, What Happened, admitted that during the run-up to war, "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 news executives to put on positive stories about the president.

And it's true! She wasn't at CNN at the time. Luckily for us, Yellin's life, in stub form, is available at Wikipedia, where one learns that Yellin "was a White House correspondent for the ABC News program Good Morning America, as well as for other ABC News programs. Yellin had been with ABC News since July 2003, after previously working for MSNBC." That puts her at MSNBC right around the same time the war began, and, sure enough, there happens to be corroboration for her story:

In a speech at Harvard's Institute of Politics on Monday, Chris Matthews admitted that MSNBC bosses were "basically pro-war during the war." The remark came in a larger discussion of top-down editorial control at the network -- of which Matthews claimed there was none...

[WATCH.]

COOPER: Jessica, McClellan took press to task for not 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 over whether to go to war in Iraq. The 'liberal media' -- in quotes -- didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served." Dan Bartlett, former Bush adviser, called the allegation "total crap." What is your take? Did the press corps drop the ball?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I wouldn't go that far. I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning. 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 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 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.

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Jessica Yellin took to the AC360 Blog this afternoon to offer a clarification to her remarks of last night:

I find myself in an interesting position. Today the blogs lit up with comments I made last night on AC360° and suddenly I'm being reported on.

It's not the most comfortable position for a reporter.

So let me clarify what I said and what I experienced.

First, this involved my time on MSNBC where I worked during the lead up to war. I worked as a segment producer, overnight anchor, field reporter, and briefly covered the White House, the Pentagon, and general Washington stories.

Also, let me say: No, senior corporate leadership never asked me to take out a line in a script or re-write an anchor intro. I did not mean to leave the impression that corporate executives were interfering in my daily work; my interaction was with senior producers. What was clear to me is that many people running the broadcasts wanted coverage that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the country at the time. It was clear to me they wanted their coverage to reflect the mood of the country.

And now I'm going back to work covering the Puerto Rico primary from San Juan.