CNN's Reliable Sources questioned the credibility of a CBS News report on the Benghazi attack, which relied on an alleged “eyewitness” who later admitted to falsifying statements about his experience, after a report claimed Fox News and Media Matters were engaged in a “coordinated campaign to smear him.”
Dylan Davies, CBS' source for its discredited 60 Minutes report on the September 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, admitted to The Daily Beast on November 2 that he had lied about his actions during that night to his supervisors. Though he told CBS' 60 Minutes that he had scaled a wall of the U.S. compound during the attack and personally struck a terrorist in the face with his rifle, an incident report from the security contracting company Blue Mountain Group said Davies “could not get anywhere near” the compound the night of the attack. Davies explained this inconsistency by claiming he did not personally write the incident report, and that he had lied in his account to the company because “he did not want his supervisor to know he had disobeyed his orders.”
On the November 3 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, guest host David Folkenflik noted that “Davies told The Daily Beast he didn't write that report,” but suggested that the conflicting accounts from Davies could “affect the larger narrative” of the entire CBS segment. Guest and CNN contributor Ryan Lizza further noted that the differences in the accounts were “dramatic,” and “you have to wonder if he's telling the truth on that specific issue.”
Eli Lake, co-author of The Daily Beast's interview of Davies, admitted on the show that the conflicting stories did make it “difficult” to evaluate Davies' credibility. He noted that Davies' current version of events “coheres with what he wrote in his book,” and potentially could be corroborated by the briefings Davies gave to the FBI and State Department shortly after the attack. As those reports are currently classified, however, Lake said he would need to see them to have greater confidence in Davies' account.
Folkenflik further noted that Davies told The Daily Beast “that he was smeared.” Davies claimed in the interview that there was “a coordinated campaign to smear him” among critics who highlighted the inconsistencies in his various accounts. Examples provided in The Daily Beast interview as evidence of such a campaign identified both Media Matters and Fox News:
Davies said he believed there was a coordinated campaign to smear him. This week, Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, sent a public letter to CBS News asking it to retract the 60 Minutes Benghazi piece on the basis of the Washington Post article. On the Fox News Channel, reporter Adam Housley claimed on air this week that Davies asked for money in exchange for an interview. Davies denied this charge. 60 Minutes has stood by its reporting.
The 60 Minutes report, which attempted to revive a long-answered “lingering question” about military reinforcements the night of the attack, has received heavy criticism from veteran journalists, and Media Matters chairman David Brock has asked the network to retract the report.
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.
The language in this post has been updated for clarity.