By Brian Steinberg, Senior TV Editor, @bristei
In a rare admission of faulty reporting on CBS News’ authoritative “60 Minutes” newsmagazine, correspondent Lara Logan acknowledged the program was misled by a primary source while preparing a story about last year’s attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
“We made a mistake,” Logan said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”
Questions were raised about the “60 Minutes” Oct. 27 report on Benghazi quickly after it aired on CBS. In the report, a source named Morgan Jones claimed to have been in the thick of the fighting around the U.S. diplomatic compound, even saying he hit a terrorist in the face with his rifle. The attack left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens dead and spurred intense scrutiny of how the State Department handled the incident.
As discovered by the Washington Post, however, Jones’ real name was Dylan Davies and he had given conflicting statements about his role during the attack.
“We take the vetting of sources and stories very seriously at ‘60 Minutes’ and we took it seriously in this case,’” said Logan in this morning’s interview. “But we were misled and we were wrong, and that’s the important thing.”
Logan said the program had worked to establish its source’s claims. “We verified and confirmed that he was who he said he was. That he was working for the State Department at the time, that he was in Benghazi at the special mission compound the night of the attack. He gave us access to communications he’d had with U.S. government officials,” she said. “We used U.S. government reports and congressional testimony to verify many of the details of his story, and everything checked out.”
Admission of the reporting error marks a rare misstep for the venerable CBS program, which has established itself as a paragon among TV-news outlets for its thorough reportage. Nearly a decade ago, claims made in a “60 Minutes II” report about President George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard in the 1970s turned out to be based on documents that could not be authenticated. In the aftermath of that report, CBS set up an independent investigation into the report, which eventually led to CBS News President Andrew Heyward leaving the company.
Source and special thanks: Variety