Lara Logan Back at Work on '60 Minutes'
Lara Logan has returned to work at CBS News, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
The news ends a suspension that began last fall after an erroneous 60 Minutes report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel. Logan had a handful of pieces in the works when she was suspended last November after her report that relied on a now-discredited interview with security contractor Dylan Davies.
She has been eager to return to work, say sources close to the correspondent, but the Benghazi report undermined her status as one of the veteran newsmagazine's biggest stars and created a media feeding frenzy that unearthed a strident speech she gave a month after the Benghazi attacks in which she advocated for military intervention in Libya and asserted that the Obama administration was downplaying the threat from Al Qaeda.
At the time of her suspension last November, CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager told THR that the report was a "black eye" for the venerable newsmagazine, still the most watched of its genre.
A CBS News spokesperson confirmed that Logan has returned to work. 60 Minutes typically takes something of a production hiatus during the summer months, with new pieces sprinkled throughout a schedule that includes reruns and updates of previously aired segments. Logan likely will not be seen on 60 Minutes until the fall, sources tell THR. But she'll begin appearing on other CBS News broadcasts such as the CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning in the coming weeks.
It's unclear if Logan can recover her reputation and resume her once-meteoric rise at CBS News, where she had the enthusiastic support of Fager, who made her a full-time 60 Minutes correspondent in September 2012. Logan issued an on-air apology for the report last November during which she was questioned on CBS This Morning by co-anchor Norah O'Donnell. But one of the issues that compounded the problem internally, say sources, is that Logan and her producer Max McClellan continued to defend Davies and their report even after it was clearly discredited. (McClellan also has returned to work.)
Fager took ultimate responsibility for the Benghazi report. In an internal memo announcing Logan and McClellan's suspensions last year, Fager wrote: "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."
Sources tell THR that Logan and McClellan did not disclose to executives that Davies had claimed he lied to his superiors and the FBI about his whereabouts on the night of the attack, telling them he did not go to the mission that night. He told Logan and McClellan a different story of heroically scaling the wall of the compound, hitting a would-be attacker with the butt of his gun and seeing Ambassador Stevens' body later that night in the hospital. It was the same story he recounted in his book, The Embassy House, published and since recalled by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is part of CBS Corp.
Such a disclosure would have prompted closer scrutiny of Davies, reason CBS News sources. An internal review of the report conducted by Al Ortiz, executive director of standards and practices at CBS News, concluded that, among other things, the discrepancies between other accounts of the Benghazi attack and Davies' version of events was "knowable before the piece aired" and that the "wider reporting resources of CBS News were not employed in an effort to confirm his account."