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The issues with Lara Logan's Benghazi story were obvious from the moment it aired on CBS' 60 Minutes on October 27. Actually, the issues were obvious from well before it aired, as Logan's highly slanted views on the events and her publicly aired desire for political action were available while the story was still in development. In any case, it didn't take long for the "heavily researched" piece to fall apart under the most cursory scrutiny of other news organizations who were able to show—often with a matter of a few phone calls—that the single source on which Logan's story was based was a self-promoting liar, pure and simple. It also showed that Logan and others involved in the story had been willing to ignore many red flags that should have warned off the most junior journalist, simply because the story they were being told (and helping to shape) was one that fit their preconceived political views.

As the story fell into tatters, Logan reappeared on 60 Minutes on November 10 to deliver an apology. However, this apology was far from sufficient, implying as it did that Logan and her associates had done their job, but had simply been taken in by a con man, and the gist of the story was still accurate, since it was only a single source that had proven unreliable. At that point I was one of many who wrote in disappointment and in hope that CBS wouldn't let this drop with only Logan's weak apology.

The good news is, they didn't, and just as it was important that we stand up to rail against CBS when they were in the wrong, we should acknowledge their efforts to address the issues. In my previous diary, I pointed up specific areas of concern, and it's worth looking at CBS reaction to see how they viewed these issues. The statement of the issues, found below the fold, is from the article that ran here on Nov 13, and the CBS response is from the memo prepared by Al Ortiz, CBS News' executive director of standards and practices.

Issue 1

The reporter in the story admitted openly that she had a direct, political motive. She wasn't passing along information to enlighten the public. She didn't even make a pretense at neutrality. She called for vindictive action against people who had done nothing wrong, on the basis of a story she knew—knew—was at best the unverified second (if not the third) version of a story told by a confessed liar. In running her story without validation, you endorsed that position.
 

CBS Review

Logan and her producers sought a "different angle" to the Benghazi story from the outset and "believed they had found it in the story of Dylan Davies." But the fact that Davies had by his own account lied to his boss in saying initially that he was not present at the mission on the night of the attack should have raised a "red flag" about his credibility. ...

Logan's public speech a year before the broadcast condemning the U.S. government's response to first warnings of the attack represented a "conflict" with CBS standards. Correction at 9:05 a.m. ET, Nov. 27: We originally said her speech was delivered a month before the broadcast. In fact, it was given in October 2012.

Issue 2
You maintained that the report had been verified by FBI sources. It hadn't. Instead, sources in the FBI quite readily acknowledged that the story your source had provided to them did not match your information. You were already aware that Dylan Davies had given a different account of events to his employer. More than that, you were certainly aware that months of congressional testimony and investigations had produced information that directly contradicted the information in your story.
 

CBS Review

Contradictory information uncovered by The Washington Post and The New York Times could have been found before the broadcast.

60 Minutes failed to draw upon the journalistic resources of other reporters and journalists at the network with deep sources within law enforcement, military services and the diplomatic corps to confirm the story it was about to tell. ...

CBS News Chairman and 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager defended the story to the media on the basis of Davies' repeated insistence that he had no knowledge of the version of events relayed in the "after action report" or by the FBI, and that Fager also relied on the "strong conviction" expressed by the 60 Minutes team — presumably Logan and producer Max McClellan.

Issue 3
Finally, you ran the story with no admission that CBS's parent organization had a direct, financial interest in raising the profile of this tale and its author. It's not the first time that a network has failed to divulge its clear interest in promoting other media properties in their portfolio, but it may be the most egregious.
 

CBS Review
 
60 Minutes also erred by not disclosing that Davies' account was pegged to a book published by a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS. (The publisher has since withdrawn Davies' book.)
I previously called CBS' actions in regard to this story journalistic malpractice. That's still true. However, assuming that they follow up on the issues acknowledged in their own internal review, it will look suspiciously like... integrity.
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