CBS admits it was duped in Benghazi '60 Minutes' story

Publisher halts publication of book by source on Libya incident

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NEW YORK -- CBS News admitted Friday that it was wrong to trust a "60 Minutes" source who claimed to be at the scene of a 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, and the publisher of the source's book on the incident has halted its publication.

"There are so many people out there who have the potential to deceive a news organization," CBS News chairman Jeffrey Fager, who is "60 Minutes" executive producer, said in an interview Friday. "We do our best, and I think we do very well at spotting them. This time, I really feel like one got through, and it's extremely disappointing."

Lara Logan, the correspondent responsible for the Oct. 27 story, said the newsmagazine would correct its story on Sunday night's program. She had interviewed former security contractor Dylan Davies, who claimed that he took part in fighting at the mission. His story had been quickly doubted, and his credibility crumbled with a New York Times report late Thursday, which revealed that the FBI said the story Mr. Davies told them didn't match what he told CBS.

"That's when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source, and that we were wrong to put him on the air, and we apologize to our viewers," Ms. Logan said Friday on "CBS: This Morning."

Since it is now unclear where Mr. Davies was during the attacks, publisher Simon & Schuster said Friday that it was withdrawing his book, "The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There." It was published on the conservative Threshold Editions imprint two days after the "60 Minutes" story.

Mr. Davies had written the book under the pseudonym Morgan Jones, which is how "60 Minutes" identified him in Ms. Logan's story about Benghazi. In that story, which was stripped from the "60 Minutes" website late Thursday, Mr. Davies talked about rushing to the scene of the attack where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed, and striking one attacker with a rifle butt.

But The Washington Post last week uncovered the identity of "Morgan Jones" and wrote that Mr. Davies had provided a written report to the British security firm for whom he worked that he had spent most of the night at the Benghazi home where he was staying, and that his attempts to get to the mission were blocked.

CBS said it had known all along that Mr. Davies had told his bosses at the Blue Mountain security firm a different story, and that Mr. Davies had claimed that the contradictory report had not been written by him. CBS said Mr. Davies advised its team that he told the true story -- the one he recounted on "60 Minutes" -- to the FBI. But the Times reported Thursday that the story Mr. Davies actually told the FBI matched the Blue Mountain written report.

Ms. Logan said CBS has tried and failed to reach Mr. Davies again. A spokesman for Mr. Davies' publisher told The Associated Press that their author is not talking.

CBS has also admitted that it was wrong not to have disclosed to "60 Minutes" viewers that Simon & Schuster, like CBS News, is owned by the CBS Corp.

For CBS, the question will remain why it had put so much stock in what Mr. Davies was saying when he was already admitting to them that he had told his employer an incorrect story. But the network said Mr. Davies had motivation to lie to Blue Mountain, because the company told him not to leave his home that night, and he said he disobeyed his bosses to go to the scene.

Ms. Logan said CBS used U.S. government reports and congressional testimony to verify his story, "and everything checked out." Mr. Davies had also showed them photographs he had taken at the U.S. compound the morning after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.

"The most important thing to every person at '60 Minutes' is the truth, and today the truth is that we made a mistake," Ms. Logan said.

Congressional Republicans have insisted that the Obama administration misled Americans about the Benghazi attack, playing down a terrorist assault in the heat of the presidential campaign. Five GOP-led House committees have investigated, demanding administration documents and witnesses while complaining that the Obama team has been stonewalling.

A day after the CBS report, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he would block President Barack Obama's nominees for Federal Reserve chairman and Homeland Security chief until the administration allowed survivors of the U.S. diplomatic mission assault to speak to members of Congress. Mr. Graham's office had no immediate comment when contacted Friday, but he was due to discuss Benghazi on Sunday political talk shows.

The liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America, which had attacked Ms. Logan's story almost as soon as it aired, called for an independent panel to investigate CBS News' reporting of the story. Media Matters said that would be consistent with a panel CBS appointed, which had concluded that a 2004 story on "60 Minutes II" about President George W. Bush's military service could not be substantiated.


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