'60 Minutes' Criticized Over Benghazi Apology: 'Wholly Inadequate,' 'Leaves Many Questions'
The newsmagazine "needs to do an 'Anatomy of a Mistake' piece on its Benghazi story, not just a 'gee, we're sorry' mini-apology," writes Politico's Roger Simon, while The Nation's Greg Mitchell tweets: "We learned more about the Beatles and their wives in 1964 than we did about Benghazi scandal on '60 Minutes' tonight."
Lara Logan issued her second apology over 60 Minutes' botched Benghazi report Sunday night, but many media commentators didn't believe it was enough.
Logan anchored the report that led the 60 Minutes broadcast in question, which aired Oct. 27 and relied heavily on an interview with security contractor Dylan Davies, whose credibility has since been seriously undermined by conflicting reports about his whereabouts on the night of the attack.
Logan's brief apology, which aired at the end of Sunday night's broadcast, came two days after her first mea culpa on CBS This Morning.
"In the story, a security officer working for the state department -- Dylan Davies -- told us he went to the compound during the attack and detailed his role that night," she said at the end of Sunday night's broadcast. "After our report aired, questions arose about whether his account was true when an incident report surfaced. It told a different story about what he did the night of the attack. Davies denied having anything to do with that incident report and insisted the story he told us was not only accurate, it was the same story he told the FBI when they interviewed him."
According to his 60 Minutes interview and a memoir published by a CBS subsidiary about the attack, Davies arrived at the embassy as the attack raged. But he wrote in an official report that he was not actually present during the attack, though he has denied writing that report.
Logan said that after the segment aired, "we realized we had been misled and it was a mistake to include him in our report. For that, we are very sorry. The most important thing to every person at 60 Minutes is the truth, and the truth is we made a mistake."
Following the broadcast, a variety of media observers hit the Internet and Twitter to criticize the apology -- not only what was said but also what wasn't said.
Craig Silverman, of the correction blog Regret the Error, told The New York Times that the apology didn't go far enough in explaining how a problematic story made it to air.
"Aside from the fact that it struck a very passive tone and pushed the responsibility onto the source, Dylan Davies, it said nothing about how the show failed to properly vet the story of an admitted liar," he said. "There are basic questions left unanswered about how the program checked out what Davies told them and where this process failed. In the short term, this will confirm the worst suspicions of people who don't trust CBS News.
"In the long term, a lot will depend on how tough and transparent CBS can be in finding out how this happened -- especially when there were not the kind of tight deadline pressures that sometimes result in errors."
PressThink blogger Jay Rosen agreed that there were many questions left unanswered and even argued that CBS News downplayed the role that other media, such as The New York Times, played in bringing to light the problems with the story.
"Two things stand out for me about this correction, besides its basic inadequacy for being so minimal," he wrote. "One is the passive voice: 'questions arose,' 'an incident report surfaced.' This wording allows CBS to erase the role played by other news organizations in forcing it to face the problems with its reporting.
"Attention now turns to Jeff Fager, as the person at CBS (executive producer of 60 Minutes) who approved the final cut of a deeply flawed report starring a source CBS knew to have lied to his employer, and the executive at CBS, boss of the news division, who decided that it was time to move on from that mistake. Can that conflict of interest stand? So far it looks like it will."
Many others in the media hit Twitter to share their own thoughts about the mea culpa. Below is a sampling:
CBS will keep switching to new football games until the audience for 60 Minutes is down to six people.— Roger Simon (@politicoroger) November 11, 2013
Is 60 Minutes really going to push apology back beyond 8pm ET so people will have switched to other programs? Small.— Roger Simon (@politicoroger) November 11, 2013
60 Minutes needs to do an "Anatomy of a Mistake" piece on its Benghazi story, not just a "gee, we're sorry" mini-apology.— Roger Simon (@politicoroger) November 11, 2013
Lara Logan didn't say anything tonight that she didn't already say on CBS on Friday— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) November 11, 2013
Unanswered questions. How did CBS begin talking to Davies? What role did S&S book rollout play in basing a segment around him?— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) November 11, 2013
A show w/ reporting legacy of 60 Minutes should have turned its reporting muscle back on itself to explain to viewers what happened, and why— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) November 11, 2013
Failure of @CBSNews to report how Lara Logan was duped for "a year" (her claim) by a Benghazi hoax guarantees others will do it for them.— Frank Rich (@frankrichny) November 11, 2013
Spent a year "reporting" & a minute apologizing. MT @JuddLegum: 60 Minutes spends just 90 seconds apologizing for fabricated Benghazi story— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) November 11, 2013
Have a feeling 60 Minutes is going to wish that apology had more time devoted to a commitment to act differently and less to sad feelings.— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) November 11, 2013
"60 Minutes"apology not required.Answers to these questions are: Why did this happen? How will it never happen again? (Well?)— vernejgay (@vernejgay) November 11, 2013
Look,TV news can be full of blarney (GoPro),but "60 Minutes," TV's ONLY serious newsmag, has to be held to a higher standard.Failed tonight.— vernejgay (@vernejgay) November 11, 2013
CBS gets points for a) apology b) not using own airwaves vs critics, as Rather did amid Bush memo fiasco. But concerns remain /con't— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) November 11, 2013
hindsight easy but CBS kept putting stock in source's word *after* WaPo piece; didn't concede validity of criticism until NYT call. /con 't— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) November 11, 2013
No real feel for *how* this went awry. CBS needs to offer transparent account of how the process went off the rails. Has not happened yet.— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) November 11, 2013
We learned more about the Beatles and their wives in 1964 than we did about Benghazi scandal on "60 Minutes" tonight.— Greg Mitchell (@GregMitch) November 11, 2013
@davidfolkenflik Why should they "get points" for apology when that's the bare minimum and wholly inadequate?— Greg Mitchell (@GregMitch) November 11, 2013
Lara Logan says her source Davies insisted he'd told her same story as he told FBI--but that was a lie. CBS put all its marbles on a liar— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) November 11, 2013
The retraction feels like it should have been longer, given magnitude of the mistake. Leaves many questions unanwered— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) November 11, 2013