CBS News Pulls Troubled Benghazi Report As New Reports Eat Away At Source's Credibility
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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.