CBS is conducting a 'journalistic review’ of a deeply flawed 60 Minutes story on the Benghazi attack that aired in late October. According to a spokesperson for the program speaking to McClatchy, the investigation began “the moment we confirmed there was an issue in our story." Earlier, the show simply offered an apology and general "correction" for the report, noting that the journalists behind it had been "misled" by its main source.
The report centered around a story of one security contractor named Dylan Davies, who had an incredible story about the attacks that turned out the be, well, not at all credible. Davies, under the pseudonym of Morgan Jones, told the station's Lara Logan that he scaled a 12-foot wall into the compound, took out an attacker with the butt of his gun, and viewed the dead body of Ambassador Chris Stevens. But earlier, Davies gave a different report to both his employer and the FBI, in which none of these things happened. He didn't even make it to the compound. The dramatic, made-up version of Davies's take is also the subject of a book published by a subsidiary of the CBS Corporation, something 60 Minutes declined to disclose in its initial report. That book has since been pulled from the shelves.
CBS's acknowledgement of the investigation came after McClatchy began digging into some of the other apparent errors in the report, including basic factual information on who was responsible for the attacks. They explain:
The report repeatedly referred to al Qaida as solely responsible for the attack on the compound and made no mention of Ansar al Shariah, the Islamic extremist group that controls and provides much of the security in restive Benghazi and that has long been suspected in the attack. While the two organizations have worked together in Libya, experts said they have different aims – al Qaida has global objectives while Ansar al Shariah is focused on turning Libya into an Islamic state.
Neither the FBI nor al Qaida, McClatchy notes, have claimed that the group was responsible for the attacks. Logan also claimed in her report that the Benghazi Medical Center was "under the control of al Qaida terrorists,” which on-the-ground reporting at the time of the attack seems to contradict.
The network's light touch on the apology and correction front prompted some substantial backlash from those nutty enough to want to know how Logan's report made it onto air. In its apology last week, the network declined to address the veracity of the report beyond Davies's contributions in general terms. Nor did it offer a breakdown of what was and wasn't true in their story. Instead, the network simply pulled its video archive of the segment and declined to elaborate further, hoping that its apology would be enough.