CBS News has put “60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan, and her producer, on a “leave of absence,” following Logan’s disastrous broadcast a few weeks ago in which she interviewed Dylan Davies, a man who purported to be an eyewitness to the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
It was subsequently discovered that Davies told his employer, and FBI investigators, that he was not at the consulate during the attack.
The move came after an internal investigation by CBS’ executive director of standards and practices, Al Ortiz, found a number of problems with Logan’s broadcast. The Huffington Post has obtained a copy of the memo.
Among Ortiz’s findings was the fact that 60 Minutes should have been able to find out, before broadcast, that Davies had told a different version of events to the FBI, and to the State Department via his employer.
“The fact that the FBI and the State Department had information that differed from the account Davies gave to 60 Minutes was knowable before the piece aired,” Ortiz wrote. “But the wider reporting resources of CBS News were not employed in an effort to confirm his account. It’s possible that reporters and producers with better access to inside FBI sources could have found out that Davies had given varying and conflicting accounts of his story.”
A second key point noted by Ortiz, that when Davies told 60 Minutes that he had lied to his employer, but was now telling CBS the “truth” about what happened that night, that should have been a red flag.
“Davies told 60 Minutes that he had lied to his own employer that night about his location, telling Blue Mountain that he was staying at his villa, as his superior ordered him to do, but telling 60 Minutes that he then defied that order and went to the compound,” Ortiz wrote. “This crucial point – his admission that he had not told his employer the truth about his own actions – should have been a red flag in the editorial vetting process.”
Ortiz also noted that Logan claimed Al Qaeda was behind the attack, when that has yet to be conclusively determined. He also noted a speech that Logan had given, calling out for a strong response from the US to the attack on the consulate, something perhaps an independent journalist shouldn’t be publicly urging, and then reporting on the incident itself.