From the November 11 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
From the November 11 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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Following the collapse of CBS News' 60 Minutes report on the 2012 Benghazi attacks, Fox News, which cited 60 Minutes' now-discredited "eyewitness" for some of its Benghazi coverage, is standing by the accuracy of its reporting. CBS News' withdrawal of the story has been largely ignored by Fox News, even though Fox enthusiastically promoted the 60 Minutes story and boasted that it validated the network's own reporting on Benghazi.
CBS News withdrew the story and 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan apologized to viewers after it was revealed that their Benghazi "eyewitness," British security contractor Dylan Davies, had given contradictory statements about whether he was actually present for the attack on the diplomatic compound. On October 28, the day after the report aired, Fox News devoted 13 segments -- totaling 47 minutes -- to promoting the 60 Minutes story.
Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi wrote in a November 9 article that "CBS's withdrawal of the story not only undermined its reporting, but that of Fox News, which apparently relied on Davies as a source for stories that have challenged the Obama administration's account of events." Farhi quoted Fox News executive vice president of news Michael Clemente defending his network's coverage: "We stand by our reporting on Benghazi, and given what is still unknown, we anticipate further fact finding from those who know the truth about what took place on 9/11/12."
Erik Wemple, the Post's media blogger, noted that after the 60 Minutes report first aired, Fox News correspondent Adam Housley acknowledged on-air that some of the network's Benghazi coverage from 2012 had cited Davies, but they "stopped speaking to him when he asked for money." Wemple specifically noted a November 3, 2012, Fox News report that referenced "the Blue Mountain Security manager," a possible reference to Davies, who was working for Blue Mountain Security at the time. As Housley put it, Davies' 60 Minutes appearance "kind of reaffirm[ed] the fact that this attack was vicious."
After spending so much time promoting 60 Minutes' story and using it to praise their own reporting, Fox News spent just 26 seconds on the story's collapse. "CBS is backing off a report on 60 Minutes -- we told you about last week -- that relied on a source whose credibility has crumbled," Special Report host Bret Baier told viewers on November 8.
From the November 8 edition of CBS' CBS Evening News:
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From the November 8 edition of MSNBC's PoliticsNation:
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Several local media outlets published editorials and opinion pieces highlighting and praising CBS' faulty 60 Minutes Benghazi report. Now that CBS has apologized and withdrawn its report, will local media follow suit?
On October 27, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a report highlighting comments from security officer Dylan Davies, who went by the pseudonym "Morgan Jones" and said that he was an eyewitness to the September 12, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. After several inconsistencies surfaced in Davies' statements about the evening, CBS pulled its report, apologized to viewers, and said it would "correct the record" on the next edition of 60 Minutes.
Immediately following the 60 Minutes report, various local media outlets across the country published editorial and opinion pieces hyping the report and heralding it as evidence that President Obama and his administration were lying about the attacks. At least six local media outlets, including The Columbus Dispatch, The New Hampshire Union Leader, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Washington Times, The Charleston Post and Courier, and The Boston Herald, all hyped the CBS report with one outlet calling it a "damning report" while another said the administration's "coverup [is] being exposed." Pittsburgh Press writer Jack Kelly published a piece in the Post-Gazette claiming the report was "noteworthy for the new information provided -- in particular the interviews with 'Morgan Jones' and [Lt.] Col. [Andrew] Wood."
The 60 Minutes report reinvigorated the widely debunked myth that there are "lingering questions" about the Benghazi attack and continued to push a right-wing media narrative that the Obama administration has engaged in a cover-up in response to the attacks. The pervasiveness of the myth even hit Congress as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to hold up presidential nominations until questions surrounding Benghazi were answered.
Now that CBS has retracted its report, will local media outlets who also injected this misleading myth into their opinion pages do the same, or will they continue to rely on debunked information that misleads their readers?
The walls are closing in on Dylan Davies (a.k.a. "Morgan Jones), the British security contractor whose dramatic "eyewitness" account of the 2012 Benghazi attacks featured prominently in a controversial CBS 60 Minutes report. Now that government officials have stated that Davies told the FBI he was nowhere near the diplomatic compound on the night of the attack (consistent with the after-action report Jones filed with his employer, which Jones disavows), CBS News has withdrawn the report and correspondent Lara Logan apologized on-air for making "a mistake."
CBS News, of course, still has a multitude of questions to answer, but so too does Threshold Editions, the imprint of the Simon & Schuster publishing company (owned by CBS) that released Davies' book, The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There.
In the book, Davies describes the two trips he made to the diplomatic compound in Benghazi the night of the attacks: an aborted first attempt in which Davies and a Libyan associate were turned away at gunpoint from the compound's rear gate by a terrorist; and a one-man incursion into the compound after the initial attack subsided, in which Davies dramatically bashes a terrorist in the face with the butt of a scavenged AK-47. In between the two trips, Davies writes he traveled to the Benghazi Medical Center where he discovered the body of Ambassador Chris Stevens and was the first person to confirm that the ambassador had been killed.
Much of Davies' narrative would have been difficult or impossible to confirm (a red flag in and of itself), but there are details of his story that could have -- should have -- been confirmed by fact-checkers at Threshold.
A year before CBS News aired -- and then retracted -- a segment featuring a British security operator claiming to be an eyewitness of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, a U.K. paper reported he wasn't even in the city that night.
Here's the October 14, 2012 report -- differing from the story Dylan Davies apparently told the FBI and his bosses as well as his publisher and CBS' Lara Logan -- from The Telegraph:
Darryl Davies, the manager of the Benghazi contract for Blue Mountain, flew out of the city hours before the attack was launched. The Daily Telegraph has learned that relations between the firm and its Libyan partner had broken down, leading to the withdrawal of Mr Davies.
Any attempt to fact-check Davies' story should have included Googling his name and that of his company, which would have unearthed the Telegraph story. While there's no evidence this account -- which is both unsourced and gets Davies' first name wrong -- is accurate, the existence of another story should have been a red flag for CBS that they needed to be wary and make every possible effort to confirm his report.
Apologizing for her report on CBS' This Morning, Logan said that the network had confirmed Davies' identity and that he had "was in Benghazi at the special mission compound the night of the attack" and had used "U.S. government reports and congressional testimony to verify many of the details of his story":
LOGAN: Well, we verified and confirmed that he was who he said he was, that he was working for the State Department at the time, that he was in Benghazi at the special mission compound the night of the attack, and that, you know, he showed us -- he gave us access to communications he had with U.S. government officials. We used U.S. government reports and congressional testimony to verify many of the details of his story, and everything checked out. He also showed us photographs that he had taken at the special mission compound the following morning and, you know, we take the vetting of sources and stories very seriously at 60 Minutes. And we took it seriously in this case. But we were misled, and we were wrong, and that's the important thing. That's what we have to say here. We have to set the record straight and take responsibility.
But it's unclear what "government reports" they reviewed -- clearly not the incident report Davies' company had filed, of which she said she had not been aware, or the FBI report that reportedly corroborating it.
Those documents show Davies saying that he had never been to the Benghazi compound on the night of the attack, while the CBS segment and Davies' CBS-published book claim that he scaled the wall and knocked out a terrorist.
Nor is it clear how Davies' presence at the compound was "verified" -- did they seek out the other people in the story Davies tells and try to confirm his tale?
CBS News pulled a crumbling 60 Minutes report on the 2012 Benghazi attacks from its website and YouTube channel amid new information from The New York Times that corroborates claims that CBS' star witness provided conflicting accounts about what he witnessed the night of the attack. Jeff Fager, CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer, hinted that a correction may be forthcoming.
The network was heavily criticized by veteran journalists and media critics after The Washington Post reported that Morgan Jones, the eyewitness on whom 60 Minutes based its report, had given CBS a story of the attacks that was contradicted by what he told the security contractor he worked for at the time.
On November 7, it was revealed by the Times that the account of the attacks that Jones, whose real name is Dylan Davies, gave to the FBI did not match what he told CBS News' Lara Logan.
According to the Times, "The information [Davies] provided in an F.B.I. interview was described Thursday by two senior government officials as completely consistent with an incident report by the Blue Mountain security business, which had been hired to protect United States interests in Benghazi." The Times reported:
Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News and executive producer of "60 Minutes," said Thursday, "We're surprised to hear about this, and if it shows we've been misled, we will make a correction."
CBS News had extensively defended Mr. Davies this week, suggesting -- as Mr. Davies did in the Daily Beast interview -- that he was the object of a campaign by State Department officials to quiet continued questioning about the events in Benghazi. CBS also publicly vouched for the authenticity of Mr. Davies's account on "60 Minutes."
The network had suggested that the agency's interview would corroborate Mr. Davies's account on "60 Minutes." Instead, the disclosure that the F.B.I. interview matched the incident report leaves CBS facing more questions about the primary source for what it called a yearlong investigation of the Benghazi incident.
60 Minutes announced in a statement that it would review the segment for a possible correction:
60 Minutes has learned of new information that undercuts the account told to us by Morgan Jones of his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound.
We are currently looking into this serious matter to determine if he misled us, and if so, we will make a correction.
Media Matters chairman David Brock responded to the new reports, saying he's pleased with CBS taking steps toward righting its errors and reiterating his call for CBS News to rely on an independent investigative committee to address its report:
I'm pleased that 60 Minutes is beginning to take the necessary steps towards righting a very serious error. I reiterate my call for CBS News to rely on an independent investigative committee -- the same standard that it used to address similar controversies in the past. The need for an independent investigative committee is underscored by CBS' prior acknowledgment that it violated ethics by failing to disclose its relationship to the publisher of Jones' book.
UPDATE: In the wake of CBS News' decision to pull its original Benghazi report, Foreign Policy's John Hudson reported via Twitter that Davies' publisher, Simon & Schuster, will be reviewing his book and taking "appropriate action" regarding its publication status.
For more on conservative media myths about the September 2012 attack, read The Benghazi Hoax, the new e-book by Media Matters' David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt.
CBS News is still trying to evade some uncomfortable questions surrounding its controversial 60 Minutes segment on the 2012 Benghazi attacks, which prominently featured "eyewitness" Dylan Davies, a security contractor identified by the pseudonym "Morgan Jones." A number of irregularities have emerged regarding Davies' account of the attacks, including an incident report that states he was nowhere near the compound during the attack he claimed to have witnessed, and undisclosed financial entanglements between Davies and CBS, which owns the publisher of Davies' book, The Embassy House.
Like the 60 Minutes segment, The Embassy House recounts Davies' experiences on the night of the Benghazi attacks. In the book, Davies claims to have been the first person to identify slain ambassador Chris Stevens at a Benghazi hospital, and writes that he conducted a one-man incursion into the besieged diplomatic compound after the attack had subsided. While it's extraordinarily difficult to confirm or deny much of Davies' story, there is a strange, internally inconsistent portion of his narrative in The Embassy House concerning whether Ambassador Stevens was conscious or unconscious upon arriving at the Benghazi Medical Center.
In chapter fifteen of The Embassy House, Davies writes that he and a Libyan associate sneaked into the Benghazi Medical Center and encountered a doctor who took them to see the body of an American, whom Jones identified as Ambassador Stevens. In Davies' retelling, by the time he'd arrived to the hospital Stevens had already been declared dead despite the doctors' efforts to resuscitate him. "He was brought in here unconscious," Davies quotes the anonymous doctor as saying. "He was unconscious upon arrival. We tried to resuscitate him for thirty minutes, but he had inhaled too much smoke. We could not reach him. Finally, we had to give up and accept that he was gone."
CBS News has finally offered more than a blanket statement in support of their controversial report on the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. But the network has yet to grapple with the pressing questions surrounding their reporting.
The October 27 60 Minutes segment has come under fire from veteran journalists following the revelation that the Benghazi security contractor "witness" featured in the report had apparently changed his story about the night of the attack. The supposed "witness," later identified as Dylan Davies, told CBS that he had gone to the diplomatic compound that night and confronted an attacker. But his story on CBS didn't match his company's incident report, which indicated that he "could not get anywhere near" the compound the night of the attack. The contractor claimed that he had lied to his boss about his whereabouts that night, but told the truth to CBS and in his book about the attacks, which was featured during the segment.
Media Matters founder David Brock has called on CBS News to form an independent investigative committee to review the report, similar to the one established after questions were raised about a 2004 story on President George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard.
One of the leaders of that investigation, former Associated Press CEO and president Louis Boccardi, told Media Matters that the lesson of that review -- to get the facts quickly and disclose them publicly -- should not be forgotten as the Benghazi report comes under scrutiny.
But CBS News has shown no inclination to take that advice.
Last week, a spokesman would say only that the network stands behind their story. In a November 5 interview with the New York Times, Lara Logan, the correspondent who anchored the report, claimed that they had "killed ourselves not to allow politics into this report" and offered the obviously false statement, "If you read the book, you would know he never had two stories. He only had one story." Even Davies himself has acknowledged giving a different story to his boss than he provided to CBS and in his book -- the question is which time he lied.
CBS did acknowledge one ethical misstep in the report -- their failure to acknowledge that Davies' book, which the report promoted, was published by a CBS subsidiary.
But the network has failed to answer key questions that continue to swirl around the report, and has apparently been dodging questions from other reporters - behavior that points to having less faith in their reporting then they are claiming publicly.
Here are the questions that CBS News should answer to demonstrate the credibility of their work:
1) Was CBS News aware of the incident report indicating that Davies "could not get anywhere near" the Benghazi compound on the night of the attack prior to releasing their story?
2) Did CBS News learn at any point during their year-long Benghazi investigation that Davies had previously offered a contradictory take on his activities? If so, why didn't they reveal that to their audience?
3) What steps did CBS News take in attempting to verify that the story Davies had told them was true?
4) Was CBS News aware that another reporter says he spoke "a number of times" to Davies but ceased communication "when he asked for money"? Did Davies ever ask CBS News for money?
5) Will CBS News revisit the story on-air now that new details have emerged that bring their original story into doubt?
Rather than answer these key questions, CBS News has claimed that criticism of their report is political. But as Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone noted, "It's not. It's Journalism 101."
CBS News correspondent Lara Logan confessed that the network "erred" by failing to disclose the financial connection it shared with the subject of a widely criticized 60 Minutes report on the 2012 Benghazi attacks. But the network's admission of an ethics violation did not extend further, and Logan issued a general defense of the report's accuracy without addressing the persisting questions that surround the report's source's conflicting accounts of the night of the attacks.
On November 5, The New York Times reported that Logan and CBS News were standing by the network's Benghazi reporting, despite a stark admission by Logan that the network made a "mistake" in its failure to disclose that a subsidiary of CBS was publishing a book written by the report's source, Dylan Davies. Jeffrey Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes, added that he regretted keeping the connection under wraps. From the Times:
CBS News, under fire from critics who dispute details in a "60 Minutes" report on the Benghazi attacks last year that was broadcast on Oct. 27, aggressively defended the report's accuracy on Tuesday and the account of its main interview subject.
At the same time, the correspondent on the report, Lara Logan, said the broadcast erred by failing to acknowledge that a book written by the interview subject was being published by a subsidiary of CBS.
CBS said that Jeffrey Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of "60 Minutes," said on Tuesday that he regretted not making the connection between Mr. Davies and CBS public.
Ms. Logan said, "Honestly, it never factored into the story. It was a mistake; we should have done it, precisely because there's nothing to hide. It was an oversight."
The controversy stems from the October 27 edition of CBS' 60 Minutes, in which Davies, who used the alias Morgan Jones, claimed to be an "eyewitness" of the September 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. He claimed that during the attack he entered the compound, confronted an attacker, and later went to a Benghazi hospital where he claimed to have seen Ambassador Chris Stevens' body -- a story that, according to The Washington Post, did not match the account in an incident report he gave in which he said he "could not get anywhere near" the compound the night of the attack.
After the revelations from the Post, Media Matters chairman David Brock called on CBS to retract its report. Many veteran journalists and media ethicists criticized 60 Minutes' reporting. Facts also emerged about the connection between CBS and Davies' repeated attempts to "profit off his brush with disaster," according to Foreign Policy magazine:
Jones has other ways of cashing in as well. This week, his book titled The Embassy House was published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is a part of CBS Corporation, which owns 60 Minutes -- a fact not disclosed in the 60 Minutes story. His book is also going to make it on the silver screen. In October, Thunder Road acquired The Embassy House for a feature on the Benghazi attack produced by Basil Iwanyk and executive produced by Taylor Sheridan.
Despite admitting error in failing to inform viewers on the financial conflict, CBS still "aggressively defended the report's accuracy," including Davies' account of the attacks, according to the Times. What's more, Logan, who interviewed Davies for 60 Minutes, blamed "intense political warfare" for the criticism of her report and claimed that, despite the fact that he admitted he lied in at least one of his accounts of the attacks, Davies "never had two stories. He only had one story." Logan failed to specifically address any of the problems with the report.
On Twitter, Huffington Post senior media reporter Michael Calderone called CBS out for its omissions. Calderone characterized CBS' defense of its reporting by saying 60 Minutes "defends Benghazi report without actually answering key questions about its source," and pointed out that "Logan won't explain whether she knew her Benghazi witness gave significantly different account year before her story" even while she "attributes criticism to 'intense political warfare' rather than CBS witness telling two different accounts."
For more on conservative media myths about the September 2012 attack, read The Benghazi Hoax, the new e-book by Media Matters' David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt.
A controversial report from CBS News' 60 Minutes on the September 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, claims that a response team from the CIA annex facility that wanted to go to the aid of Americans at the main compound received "orders to wait." But months ago, that claim was denied by the CIA and debunked by the State Department's independent review of the assault -- facts that went unmentioned during the CBS segment.
CBS' allegation has already been highlighted by congressional investigators, who issued an October 31 letter calling on the State Department, Defense Department, and CIA to address the claim, which they say "again calls into question decision making by government officials in aggressively rescuing American personnel at the Benghazi compound."
The October 27 report has come under fire from Media Matters and a host of journalism veterans following the revelation that a security contractor presented by CBS News as a witness to the attacks had previously filed a report with his security contractor employer saying that he "could not get anywhere near" the compound the night of the attack. The segment, which also attempted to revive the long-answered "lingering question" about why no U.S. military forces from outside Libya came to the aid of Americans in the compound, was widely praised by conservative media and Republican politicians.
During the segment, correspondent Lara Logan claimed that "[a]bout 30 minutes into the attack" on the diplomatic compound, "a quick reaction force from the CIA Annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at times running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there."
That claim was originally reported by Fox News in October 2012, with the network's Jennifer Griffin reporting:
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command -- who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
At the time, a CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood flatly denied the claim, Griffin noted:
"We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi," she said. "Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. In fact, it is important to remember how many lives were saved by courageous Americans who put their own safety at risk that night-and that some of those selfless Americans gave their lives in the effort to rescue their comrades."
In December, the Assessment Review Board, an independent panel assembled by the State Department to investigate the attack, also knocked down the claim, finding (emphasis added):
The departure of the Annex team was not delayed by orders from superiors; the team leader decided on his own to depart the Annex compound once it was apparent, despite a brief delay to permit their continuing efforts, that rapid support from local security elements was not forthcoming.
Journalism veterans and media ethicists are demanding answers from CBS News in light of the revelation that the key "witness" in 60 Minutes' recent report on the September 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, had previously said he was not at the diplomatic compound on the night of the attack.
"I don't see any way that 60 Minutes would not need to offer an explanation," said Alex S. Jones, former media writer for The New York Times and current director of the Shorenstein Center on The Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. "This definitely needs explaining."
The 60 Minutes segment, which aired October 27, includes a lengthy interview with a man identified by the pseudonym "Morgan Jones," who told the magazine show he was "a security officer who witnessed the attack."
The piece featured "Jones" and his seemingly heroic efforts "scaling" the compound's 12 foot wall, disabling a terrorist "with the butt end of a rifle" and ultimately seeing the lifeless body of Ambassador Chris Stevens in the hospital.
But The Washington Post revealed Thursday that "Jones," identified as defense contractor Dylan Davies, told his employer in a written report just days after the attack that he was far from the area at the time. According to the Post, Davies wrote that "he spent most of that night at his Benghazi beach-side villa. Although he attempted to get to the compound, he wrote in the report, 'we could not get anywhere near . . . as roadblocks had been set up.'" He also wrote that he had heard of Stevens' death from a colleague.
That revelation drew concern and complaints from those who monitor media ethics and have worked in newsrooms for decades. Several called for a correction or at least further explanation.
Among them is Kevin Z. Smith, chair of the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists and deputy director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio State University, who called for CBS to "internally review its reporting on this story given the latest information that has surfaced. They need to pursue this new information and story angle with the same fairness and intensity that they did in the original reporting."
In a letter to CBS News' president and chairman, Media Matters founder David Brock called for such a review, modeled on the independent investigation the network conducted after questions were raised about a report on President George W. Bush's Air National Guard service.
Smith said two questions arise from the situation. "First, did Lara Logan and her staff test the accuracy of the information that was given them and exercise care to avoid error?" he asked in an email. "Second, if they are wrong in their reporting, they should show accountability and make needed corrections to their reportage to reflect any mistakes made. That is a key component to establishing and maintaining trust and credibility with the public."
Following the revelation that a key "witness" featured in this week's CBS 60 Minutes report on Benghazi previously claimed that he never got near the besieged diplomatic compound on the night of the attacks, Media Matters chairman David Brock is calling on CBS to retract its story.
On October 27, CBS aired a report on the Benghazi attacks that featured the claims of a supposed eyewitness using the pseudonym "Morgan Jones." Today, the Washington Post revealed that Jones, whose real name is Dylan Davies, previously filed a report with his security contractor employer saying that he "could not get anywhere near" the compound the night of the attack.
In his letter to CBS executives, Brock writes that the story should be "immediately retracted and an independent investigative committee needs to probe all aspects of how the story was reported."
The full letter to CBS is below.
Mr. Jeff Fager
Chairman, CBS News
Mr. David Rhodes
President, CBS News
I am writing to express my concern about a 60 Minutes segment on the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi that CBS aired on October 27. As Media Matters for America noted earlier in the week, the segment revived long-answered questions about the attack and, even more troubling, a Fox News correspondent said that he had spoken to one of the witnesses interviewed "a number of times" about the attacks but stopped after the man "asked for money."
Today, The Washington Post revealed that the very same witness previously said he never got near the diplomatic compound the night of the attack. This completely contradicts what was reported on air by correspondent Lara Logan, who said that during the attack, the witness "scaled the twelve-foot high wall of the compound that was still overrun with al Qaeda fighters." In the interview, the witness told Logan he had personally struck one of those terrorists in the face with his rifle butt and, following the attack, he went to the Benghazi hospital and saw Ambassador Chris Stevens' body.
According to Post, the witness revealed none of those details in the incident report he wrote following the attack. Instead, he said that he spent most of that night at his Benghazi beach-side villa and learned of Stevens' death from a colleague. This paints a damning picture of the credibility of the supposed eyewitness -- and thus of the CBS report itself.
A network spokesman told the Post, 'We stand firmly by the story we broadcast last Sunday." This is not sufficient. When questions were raised about documents involving President George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard, CBS appointed an independent panel "to help determine what errors occurred in the preparation of the report and what actions need to be taken." Similar standards must be applied in this case.
The 60 Minutes story should be immediately retracted and an independent investigative committee needs to probe all aspects of how the story was reported and get answers to the following questions:
- Were witnesses paid to talk?
- Did anyone bother to compare the witness' story to the written report he filed at the time?
- If the network was aware of the incident report, why did no one acknowledge the discrepancy in the witness' story?
- Who worked on the story at all levels?
- How was the story vetted and by whom?
The committee's findings should be public to and, if necessary, appropriate disciplinary action should take place.
In my most recent book, The Benghazi Hoax, I chronicled how the media has, for over a year, twisted the facts about what happened the night of the attacks. CBS' report was a new low. I hope you take this opportunity to reassure your viewers of your standards and accountability.
Chairman, Media Matters for America