'60 Minutes' retracts Benghazi report

CBS staff misled

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Lara Logan was scheduled to deliver a report on Sunday's "60 Minutes" about disabled veterans who climb mountains. Instead, she appeared in front of the newsmagazine's trademark black backdrop and issued an apology.

Ms. Logan said that Dylan Davies, one of the main sources for a 2-week-old story about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, had misled the program's staff when he gave an account of rushing to the compound the night the attack took place. "It was a mistake to include him in our report. For that, we are very sorry," Ms. Logan said.

While veteran television journalists spent the weekend debating whether the now-discredited Benghazi story would cause long-term damage to the newsmagazine's brand, some media critics joined the liberal advocacy group Media Matters for America in calling for CBS to initiate an independent investigation of missteps in the reporting process.

CBS News chairman Jeff Fager, who is also the executive producer of "60 Minutes," has not ordered an investigation, and on Sunday a spokesman indicated that the program was going to let its televised apology be its last word on the issue.

Ms. Logan has said that a year of reporting informed the Oct. 27 story, which was Mr. Davies' first interview. Some of Ms. Logan's conclusions still hold up to scrutiny -- for example, that "contrary to the White House's public statements, which were still being made a full week later, it's now well established that the Americans were attacked by al-Qaida in a well-planned assault."

But enough doubts have been sown about Mr. Davies' account of being an eyewitness that CBS apologized on Friday, scrubbed the story from its website (and the "60 Minutes" Twitter feed) and prepared Ms. Logan's on-camera statement Sunday night.

Parallels have been drawn between this case and CBS's flawed 2004 report on President George W. Bush's time in the National Guard. Each time, the news division adopted a defensive crouch when advocates first started to question the stories.

But the political backdrop has changed significantly this time. This time, conservatives initially trumpeted the "60 Minutes" report: The morning after it was broadcast, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox News that he planned to block all administration nominations until Congress was granted access to all of the survivors of the attack. (On Sunday, Mr. Graham stood by his threat, despite CBS's retraction.) At the same time, questions about Mr. Davies and his account were immediately raised, by both liberal activists and independent reporters.

CBS's retraction came only after the network confirmed a New York Times report in which government officials said that Mr. Davies gave a different account of events to the FBI than he gave to CBS.


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