60 Minutes Banghazi Follow Up

As I thought would happen….

NEW YORK — Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of ‘”60 Minutes,” informed staff Tuesday that Lara Logan and her producer, Max McClellan, would be taking a leave of absence following an internal report on the news magazine’s discredited Oct. 27 Benghazi report.

Though, I didn’t know this:

Ortiz also wrote that Logan’s October 2012 foreign policy speech, in which she spoke of the need for “revenge” for the Benghazi attack, was also problematic. “From a CBS News Standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story,” Ortiz wrote.

One question that remains unanswered is how “60 Minutes” first reached Davies and what role his writing a book for Threshold Editions -– an imprint of Simon & Schuster, a subsidiary of CBS –- could have played in him appearing on air. There’s been speculation that Logan’s husband, a former defense contractor, could have been involved in getting him on air as well.

So, added to the rush to get a new angle, and the failure to notice the flying red-flags, there is a bit of an ideological issue here….

60 Minutes and the Benghazi Report Debacle

60 Minutes, the venerable and highly respected Sunday new magazine at CBS aired a report on October 27 featuring a claimed participant in  the defense of the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept 11, 2012.  It turns out that Dylan Davies was either at the consulate and lied to his employer, XXX and the FBI in several interviews, or he was not there and lied to 60 Minutes.  It also turns out that he has a book coming out under the right wing Simon & Schuster [owned by CBS] imprint, Threshold Editions.

There is plenty available to get you up to date, here, here and here.

What is baffling to me however, is what was pushing 60 Minutes to put together the story at all, much less to depend so exclusively on one source who had outright told them he had lied to his employer — that the story 60 Minutes had was the true story.  Why on earth?!

The nasty suspicion is that CBS was trying to curry favor with the rabid right — known for loyalty if not to accuracy.   At least one former 60 Minutes producer shares the suspicion.

“My concern is that the story was done very pointedly to appeal to a more conservative audience’s beliefs about what happened at Benghazi,” Mary Mapes told Media Matters. “They appear to have done that story to appeal specifically to a politically conservative audience that is obsessed with Benghazi and believes that Benghazi was much more than a tragedy.”

Another thing no one is talking about is that Lara Logan, the lead reporter on the piece, is the same Lara Logan who was attacked and sexually assaulted in Cairo February 2011.  One wonders if her terrifying experience led her to press into a similar story which, by reporting on, she could control, or by imagining in detail could quiet her own personal trauma.

CBS is apologizing.  Firings may follow — if only to put a serious face on trying to stop the hemorrhaging of the 60 Minutes brand.  It would be too bad if Logan is attacked again, but it may happen.

Most important is to understand who led the charge?  Who decided that the much debated and investigated attack and failure to defend the consulate in Benghazi, was worth re-visiting?

Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham who was in quite a tizzy after the first (erroneous) report, praising 60 Minutes [not a typical gesture from the right] for its sterling reporting and proof that the Obama administration was indeed covering up their failure to defend, has gone silent.  Next thing we know he’ll point out that 60 Minutes is a known liberal outlet and not to be trusted — but he’ll keep his promise to put a hold on all Obama’s appointments — just in case.