The 90-second “apology” aired on 60 Minutes last night for the shabby reporting and conflicts of interest associated with Lara Logan’s Benghazi! report two weeks ago was, quite literally, the least CBS and its beleaguered reporter could do. Here’s the story , via the New York Times‘ Stelter and Carter:
Ms. Logan said that Dylan Davies, one of the main sources for a two-week-old piece about the attack on the American 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.
The apology lasted only 90 seconds and revealed nothing new about why CBS had trusted Mr. Davies, who appeared on the program under the pseudonym Morgan Jones. Off-camera, CBS executives were left to wonder how viewers would react to the exceptionally rare correction.
HuffPost’s Jack Mirkinson summarized the reaction of media critics as notably unimpressed:
Predictably, her Sunday mea culpa offered little insight into why Davies was chosen as the key source for the report, and why “60 Minutes” had so fervently defended him, even amid mounting evidence of his unreliability. Also unmentioned was what role, if any, corporate ties played in placing Davies at the heart of the piece. A conservative imprint of Simon and Schuster, which is also owned by CBS, had published a book about Benghazi by Davies. That book has since been recalled.
The lack of investigative zeal exhibited by this showcase of investigative journalism–before, during and after the episode aired–is interesting. You almost wonder if the folk at CBS aren’t smirking behind their hands that they’ve finally managed to get the ancient “liberal bias” monkey off their backs in one fell swoop.
Unfortunately, a messed-up report that raises more questions than it answers provides still more cannon-fodder for congressional Republicans, particularly Sen. Lindsey Graham, who seems about ten minutes away from threatening a fresh government shutdown if he doesn’t get everyone’s attention when he regales South Carolina conservatives with his latest “investigations” of Benghazi!
As WaPo’s Emily Heil notes:
The South Carolina Republican’s umbrage was apparently inspired by a segment he’d caught on “60 Minutes” featuring a man claiming to be an eyewitness to the violence. But on Friday, CBS reporter Lara Logan retracted the story, explaining that she and her team had been duped by a source in whom they no longer “had confidence.”
Graham isn’t walking back on the pledge to hold up President Obama’s nominees, though. Like a bell that can’t be un-rung, he said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” nothing’s changed.
Of course not. Graham’s exploitation of the fool’s gold of Benghazi! will never end until he was won renomination in 2014 or is finally dragged out the Senate kicking and screaming. But Logan and 60 Minutes have, I am sure, earned his undying gratitude for making the subject topical again.