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CBS's venerable news magazine, 60 Minutes, was embarrassed last week when both the Washington Post and The New York Times published reports that totally blew the program's incendiary report on the attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. The show relied on the account of a British security contractor named Dylan Davies (who, by the way, has a book deal with CBS's subsidiary imprint, Simon & Schuster) that was entirely contradicted by a report that Davies had provided to the FBI. Sunday night viewers might have expected 60 Minutes to explain how this happened. That's not what they got from reporter Lara Logan.
Logan spent roughy 90 seconds at the end of Sunday' s broadcast commenting on the network’s most high-profile mistake since Dan Rather’s discredited report on George W. Bush’s military record over nine years ago on “60 Minutes Wednesday.” (By comparison, "This American Life" devoted an hour-long program last year to a story it retracted.) On Sunday, Logan said she was making a “correction,” which downplayed the severity of CBS News retracting a story that took a year to report and had political impact. The day after the CBS report featuring Davies, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called for holding White House nominees until all Benghazi witnesses appear before Congress.

The terse manner in which “60 Minutes” handled the “correction” Sunday night follows the cavalier way in which the program handled questions about Davies' credibility for a week, only admitting the mistake after the revelation of a second conflicting account.

60 Minutes has a lot of explaining to do, and clearly isn't interested in doing so. The key question is why did the show base its entire story on the account of Davies, and not actually vet him with sources at the FBI? But there are other questions, like did Logan attempt to find sources to corroborate Davies' account? Did Davies ask to be paid for his story (beyond his book contract) like he did with Fox News (a demand that caused the Fox reporter to stop working with him)? How much influence does recent CBS News hire David Rhodes—a former Fox News executive—have at 60 Minutes? Why did 60 Minutes producers and editors allow Logan, who has a very clear and public political agenda on this issue, to run with it with apparently no fact checking?

Perceived personal political bias was enough for CBS to end Dan Rather's career after his story on then-candidate George W. Bush's national guard duty. Logan's story was far more harmful, not just to the families of the victims of Benghazi, but to national interests. CBS is so far refusing to acknowledge that, and refusing to hold itself and Logan accountable. An "apology" for being "misled" doesn't cover this huge journalistic malpractice, not by a long shot.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 08:20 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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