CBS News correspondent Lara Logan may be one of the only people to lose her job, at least temporarily, because of the Benghazi story. Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone broke the news in a tweet on Tuesday that she and producer Max McClellan are taking a leave of absence from 60 Minutes, per a memo from the program’s executive producer Jeff Fager, following a botched story about the attack on the U.S. compound in Libya. No timetable has been given on if, or when, they might return to work.
The Huffington Post obtained Fager's memo to 60 Minutes employees. In it, Fager says:
I have asked Lara Logan, who has distinguished herself and has put herself in harm’s way many times in the course of covering stories for us, to take a leave of absence, which she has agreed to do. I have asked the same of producer Max McClellan, who also has a distinguished career at CBS News. As Executive Producer, I am responsible for what gets on the air. I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.
Earlier this month, Logan was forced to apologize on-air after a 60 Minutes report on the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi was exposed as citing false eyewitness testimony from Dylan Davies, whose new book was the basis for the story. Davies spoke on air as though he had seen the attack personally, despite having told his employer he was not on site at the time. The book has since been pulled from shelves by its publisher, and Davies has gone into hiding.
CBS’s internal investigation of the episode identified several mistakes the editorial team made in pursuing the story, and singled Logan out for indulging a conflict of interest:
Logan was supposed to host tonight’s annual press freedom awards dinner, put on by the Committee to Protect Journalists, but was stripped of the honor earlier today.
In October of 2012, one month before starting work on the Benghazi story, Logan made a speech in which she took a strong public position arguing that the US Government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda, and urging actions that the US should take in response to the Benghazi attack. From a CBS News Standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story.