Lara Logan is reportedly back at work at CBS News' 60 Minutes after a six-month leave of absence, even as questions linger over the network's investigation of her botched Benghazi report.
Logan and her producer Max McClellan took leaves of absence in November following an internal review into their October 27 report on the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, which the network was forced to withdraw. Logan's report was based on the unreliable testimony of an “eyewitness” named Dylan Davies and crumbled once it became clear that he had lied about being present at the besieged diplomatic compound during the attack, telling the FBI he had never been there. That triggered a firestorm of coverage, with media observers suggesting that the debacle had permanently damaged the brands of CBS News and 60 Minutes. The CBS internal review found that Logan's story “was deficient in several respects.”
According to the Associated Press on June 4, “CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair said Wednesday that Logan is back. She had no details on when the correspondent resumed work and what stories she is working on.”
In a statement, Media Matters founder David Brock said:
The flawed 60 Minutes report on Benghazi permanently damaged the credibility of both the show and of CBS. A New York magazine report made clear that a lion's share of the blame for massive errors in that report belongs to Lara Logan. CBS indicated that they were serious about rebuilding its brand and taking accountability. Having Logan back on 60 Minutes shows the exact opposite.
Indeed, the May 2012 article in New York detailed how the Benghazi story got on the air, ultimately finding that internal CBS office politics allowed Logan's personal credibility to stand in for standard fact-checking and basic reporting. New York also revealed new details about the process, many of which were inconsistent with CBS' internal review, raising questions about the validity of that review and its scope. These inconsistencies include:
- While CBS' internal review found that the 60 Minutes team interviewed State and FBI sources related to Davies' story, New York reported that “no calls were made to the State Department or the FBI specifically to vet Davies' claim.”
- While CBS' internal review stated that reporters “with better access” to the FBI could have learned that Davies had told the agency he hadn't witnessed the attack, New York revealed that one of Logan's own sources on the story had access to that information.
- While CBS' internal review found that a speech Logan gave criticizing the Obama administration's tactics toward Al Qaeda had conflicted with “CBS News standards,” New York reported that Logan's bosses had helped arrange the speech and that the president of CBS News was in the audience.
As Media Matters has documented, the New York article raised significant new questions that were not answered by the review, including why the review did not address the role played by executive editor Bill Owens, who reportedly vetted the piece, and whether CBS News was aware that Republican Senator Lindsay Graham was a major source for Logan as she developed the story.