Lara Logan to Take Leave of Absence From CBS in Wake of ’60 Minutes’ Report

60 Minutes
Image Courtesy of CBS News

Internal review found troubled Oct. 27 segment on Benghazi attack 'deficient in several respects'

CBS News correspondent Lara Logan and producer Max McClellan will take leave of absence from the network in the wake of a flawed “60 Minutes” report on last year’s attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The suspension was a result of CBS News’ internal review of the Oct. 27 segment about Benghazi, which the network found to be lacking in its efforts to substantiate the assertions of a key source, security officer Dylan Davies. The review was disclosed in an internal memo from CBS News chairman Jeff Fager issued Tuesday.

The “60 Minutes” Benghazi controversy has spiraled during the past month into a major black eye for CBS News. Logan is one of the Eye’s star correspondents, and Fager is known to be a favored lieutenant of CBS Corp. topper Leslie Moonves.

Even with his exec role, Fager remains exec producer of the venerable newsmagazine that he inherited from its founder, Don Hewitt, in 2004.

“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,” Fager said in the memo to staff. “When faced with a such an error, we must use it as an opportunity to make our broadcast even stronger. We are making adjustments at ’60 Minutes’ to reduce the chances of it happening again.”

The “60 Minutes” report came under scrutiny after reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times suggested Davies, the security officer whose statements provided the grist for the segment, had given inaccurate information to the CBS program.

During the Nov. 20 broadcast of “60 Minutes,” Logan delivered a rare on-air mea culpa, telling viewers that producers  came to realize they had “been misled, and that it was a mistake to include him in our report” after a discovery that Davies had given a different account of his time in Benghazi to the FBI. In the segment, Davies claimed to be an eyewitness to the attack by insurgents that left U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead.

“The most important thing to every person at ’60 Minutes’ is the truth,” said Logan, “and the truth is, we made a mistake.”

The review of the troubled segment by CBS News executive director of standards and practices Al Ortiz found the reporting “deficient in several respects,” including producers’ inability to check thoroughly the account of Davies, the main source of the segment and who used the pseudonym Morgan Jones. The review also said “60 Minutes” should have disclosed the fact that Jones’ account had originally appeared in a book published recently by an imprint of Simon & Schuster, also a unit of CBS Corp.

“There is a lot to learn from this mistake for the entire organization,” Fager said in the memo. ” We have rebuilt CBS News in a way that has dramatically improved our reporting abilities. Ironically ’60 Minutes,’ which has been a model for those changes, fell short by broadcasting a now discredited account of an important story, and did not take full advantage of the reporting abilities of CBS News that might have prevented it from happening.”

He added:  “As a result, I have asked Lara Logan, who has distinguished herself and has put herself in harm’s way many times in the course of covering stories for us, to take a leave of absence, which she has agreed to do. I have asked the same of producer Max McClellan, who also has a distinguished career at CBS News.”

The internal review found that CBS producers had been told before airing the segment that Davies had lied to his own employer about his whereabouts during the night of the attack.  “This crucial point – his admission that he had not told his employer the truth about his own actions – should have been a red flag in the editorial vetting process,” Ortiz said in the review.

CBS also found that Logan had pushed the boundaries of CBS News standards by saying in a speech a month before the Benghazi segment aired suggesting actions the U.S. should take in response to the attack on the compound. “From a CBS News standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story,” Ortiz said in the review.

Even though CBS News issued an apology on “60 Minutes,” some critics felt the unit had to do more. In a statement released earlier Tuesday, the Assn. for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, called for CBS News to make the original segment available on the Web and other digital properties, along with Logan’s mea culpa.

“Correcting an inaccurate broadcast that has aired is challenging, but in today’s digital world, it can be done in a way that simultaneously preserves the original broadcast for the historical and journalistic record and tells the truth about the inaccurate content,” said Paula Poindexter, the group’s president. “Therefore, AEJMC recommends that ’60 Minutes’ embed the original report together with Logan’s official correction and the link to her Nov. 8, 2013, ‘CBS This Morning’ interview in which she answered tough questions about events that led to the defective report. Additionally, a correction should be superimposed across the video so there is no misunderstanding about the inaccurate content in the report.”

Admission of the reporting error echoes a previous controversy surrounding the “60 Minutes” franchise a decade ago.

Claims made in a 2004 edition of the now-defunct “60 Minutes II” newsmagazine 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 the supervisor of the segment being fired while three other supervising executives were asked to resign. The report also tarnished the reputation of CBS News anchor Dan Rather.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 277

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. I Thought I knew... says:

    Is Ms. Logan’s career destroyed or will CBS facilitate healing and renewal of their human resource talent?

  2. dockywocky says:

    Excuse after excuse and after 50 years, the left is still in firm control of the so-called “Media.”

    Call me when someone actually succeeds in leveling the playing field.

  3. Stephen says:

    Gee Bob, sheep will re-bleat whatever they’ve heard. And no, when someone first tries (and apparently in this case, succeeds) to deceive, then one shouldn’t pay any attention to what follows. Oddly enough old bean, it’s COMMON SENSE. And just because YOU think someone is lying (or more to the point, your simply believing the party line) doesn’t make what you’ve accepted as the truth correct. Again and again and again I beg, I plead…THINK FOR YOURSELVES! Don’t allow ANY politician, Party, religious leader or anyone else do your thinking for you. If you do, you are just another sheep, ripe and willing to be shorn.

  4. Bob says:

    So, Davies’ location was a lie. What’s your point? It does not necessarily follow that the substance of his report would be untrue or without merit. Any one lie calls into question the reliability of his other statements but it does NOT in any way refute them. Address the main issue, People! Do the rest of his claims have ANY merit? Sheesh! What kind of critical thinking do they teach in school these days … that a lie by Person A totally discredits everything he has to say, but a hundred lies by Person B is overlooked because he is a Political Idol?

  5. Dom Leos says:

    I am sure Faux News (Fox News) will welcome with wide arms.

  6. patricia says:

    When I was in chook I studied Journalism and was a proof reader for the school newspaper and any information sent out to students or even the local newspaper. If a college/high school journalism classes have proof readers, it would seem logical to me for media reporters to have someone proof read and go over the information, the interviews (the person) and confirm before delivery.

  7. D.D. Williams says:

    They did not keep the info about him lying to his employer a secret from Lara or anyone else.They actually said that info made him more credible to them as he never waivered from his account about lying to his employer.He claimed he was told not to go to the attack site but went anyway and that is why he claims he lied to them.THey all knew from the beginning he had said this.And since he never changed his story about this,they decided he must be telling the truth. HOW IRONIC !!! THey decided his credibility based on a lie he admitted he told………the mainstream media..not just 60 Minutes,is flawed !!

  8. P M Johnson says:

    It seems Lara and Dan are both victims of the network that supplied them with the faulty information to be broadcast on the “faulty’s” program. The article even says the producers were aware BEFORE broadcast – and they kept it a secret so Lara continued with the scheduled report!! (Same was true in the Bush incident, although the information had been HIDDEN and not verifiable by anyone, for a reason.) The announcer is NOT to blame in either case, in my opinion – but they were the “face” of the network, so they flogged them publicly!!

  9. Candice says:

    Here is a quote from Dan Rather when he was at CBS, which appears in some textbooks: “We make mistakes so often, violating the basics of accuracy, clarity, or fairness, that sometimes it shatters me. If with our budget and our staff and time, we make so many mistakes in expose material, what’s it like under less luxurious circumstances?”

  10. Bob Boettger says:

    Wrote CBS in 2004 explaining that I would no longer watch or believe anything CBS News presents. So far I am true to my word. This group of reporters has done nothing to indicate to me that they are capable of dependable truth-telling or honest journalism.

  11. Jeffrey Gee says:

    I can sum up this entire article in two words “They Lied”. I am sure it happens all the time, only this time they got busted.

  12. Steve Allen says:

    Both Lara Logan and Max McClellan would have been summarily fired if the report had detailed the actual truth of Benghazi.

  13. John Smith says:

    Perhaps Lara Logan and Sarah Palin can co-host a show. All we’d get is the truth.

  14. John Smith says:

    Lemmie guess: Fox news for the truth? LOL

  15. EllieEnlightened says:

    “The most important thing to every person at ’60 Minutes’ is the truth,” said Logan, “and the truth is, we made a mistake.”

    Really this from the network with the Dan Rather debacle.

  16. Tom Menino says:

    Just one more in a long line of stilted and inaccurate stories by the ’60 Minutes’ crew. It hasn’t been a real news show since Hewitt left.

  17. C. Adkins says:

    since when does 60 Minutes worry about lying-?

  18. ray says:

    totally agree

  19. OK so this chic makes a reporting error and gets a 60-day rap. In the mean time, Martin Bashir keeps coming to work everyday. What’s wrong with this picture?

  20. Ben Neal says:

    “documents that could not be authenticated”????? Its been proven that they were typed using Microsoft Word 2004, yet were supposed to be from the 1970s and were called obvious forgeries by every typography expert that examined them. How about some accurate reporting.

  21. Scippio Africanus says:

    I think Logan is quite a talent.

    • robert says:

      I read the guys book, before they started pulling them. Regerdless of these disputed details, most of the book is clearly quite true and it is the way things went in the months ahead of the event. There is no contradiction in those details, so we should use the information as an additional tool to judge how the matter evolved. Deleting the disputed details still leaves a pretty clear picture of the whole nature of the operations going on there. I think we thank Lara for her work , and hope she can find a place that will appreciate her and her work ethic. Maybe CBS is not the place.

  22. Geo Lester says:

    Lara is HOT! I don’t care if the story was inaccurate, it doesn’t seem like a huge deal to me, so the news got misled – whats new about that… I love to hear her voice and hope she’s back soon.

  23. Rita says:

    After all that Lara Logan has been through working for your station, you should not be taking any action against her. You’ll do anything to protect the administration and all of it’s mistakes, shame on all of you and I will no longer watch 60 minutes.

  24. Willy Mcgee says:

    To Paraphrase – Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Meltdown: What Difference Does It Make?

    A cover up is a cover up – a scandal is a scandal and a fubar is a fubar!

  25. strongvoice says:

    I still think the story was true and they were instructed to retract the story and attack its validity. They were probably instructed to take the leaves of absence as well.

  26. Willy Mcgee says:

    To paraphrase – Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Meltdown: What Difference Does It Make?

  27. KayFlyte says:

    “The report also tarnished the reputation of CBS News anchor Dan Rather.”

    Tarnished the reputation ? Get real Variety, it destroyed Rather. And the public is better for it.

  28. Bob White says:

    Same way Hilary disappeared for a while after Benghazi.

  29. Fred- 90 years old says:

    Logan and 60 minutes are dead. No one trusts the Main Stream media anymore and it
    has been that way for 10 years..

  30. KingMan says:

    That proves you’re not much of a thinker

  31. El Pedro says:

    I love these “leave of absence” punishments!

    If I was given paid holiday for every one of my cock-ups … I would have never reformed my behaviours !!

  32. Lancers3 says:

    If the 60 Minute report had been in error, but in support of Obama and his administration, they’d have gotten a raise.

  33. mike jones says:

    they should have been FIRED!!

  34. Daniel Coates says:

    Lara Logan’s Husband Was a Propagandist for the U.S. Military…

    Everyone wants to know: Why did CBS correspondent Lara Logan trust Dylan Davies, the now-discredited security contractor, and the story he told 60 Minutes about the …

  35. bari says:

    That’s exactly what i thought as soon as i read the headline.

  36. Daniel Coates says:

    They still have not disclosed that Lara Logan’s husband was a hired contractor of the Bush administration to create fake news to sway the public to support the war in Iraq. He made up FAUX stories like this for money and still works in that business. He lies and still lies and she lied all the way through this and in her pro-rightwing/Fox Noise propaganda speech that alleges things that are not true, she should be fired so she can go to Fox Noise where she belongs!

    • Catman2 says:

      Oh yea,I get it, this reporter could have saved a lot reader a lot of it me and energy by just condensing this report down to ” it’s Bush’s fault.”

  37. Sir Boris says:

    That sounds aout right.

  38. canoe says:

    Can we say setup. Run Lara, run as fast as your legs will carry you to a better place. You deserve better.

  39. mjr007 says:


  40. John Bennett says:

    She got a raw deal. History will show she was correct!!!

  41. Angela Hayden says:

    This article just clained, “Davies had given a different account of his time in Benghazi to the FBI.” Actually earlier reporting stated that Davies’s BOSS gave that different reporting to the FBI. Davies did not at the time admit to his boss that he was going to the hospital where he witnessed the ambassador, probably because he had been told to “stand down.” So the boss told that version to the FBI, that Davies was not at the hospital. RUN Lara Logan and Mac McClellan! CBS just threw you under the bus!

  42. semicharmed says:

    What difference at this point does it make?” Clinton shot back in a raised voice.

    Well.. gee wiz.. tell that to U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty … four Americans who died during that attack on the 9/11 anniversary. It makes all the difference where the liar in chief was, where Hillary was and why no help was sent. A republican admin would have been destroyed over this.

  43. EddieInFL says:

    CBS tell a LIE? There is no news any more–only propaganda.

  44. mara says:

    No one cares who gets fired or hired at CBS. The times have overtaken all the TV media powerhouses. There is just too much entertainment and news all over the internet to pay attention to the TV channels.

  45. Bonnie Kellogg says:

    What about when Dan Rathers made up a boldface lie about Bush. Did anyone see this a problem

    • Fred McBride says:

      The responsibility of news reporters is to get the story right. That is the only reason they are employed and have a job. If you spend your life talking then it is your responsibility to be correct every time you talk. Only politician are forgiven for shading the truth and you can see what the public thinks about them.

  46. Stan says:

    There was and still is a Benghazi screw up, and it is still hanging fire…unresolved as far as I am concerned.

    • Steve says:

      Haha! Was not this the place that did the Dan Rather “expose” of George Bush forged documents on his military career? The documents typed in modern font? Boy, those detective reporters over there at 60 Minutes make Sherlock Holmes look baaaad!

  47. ernaldo says:

    Yeah, I remember how hard CBS came down on the folks that presented the inaccurate reports on Bush, Reagan, Romney, etc. Wait, they didn’t even offer an apology, if I remember correctly. And I do.

    • dockywocky says:

      Any truth to the rumor that CBS has now instituted a policy of public self flagellation for reporting mistakes or untrue stories?

  48. goturner says:

    If I had lost a son in Benghazi, demanding the details would only be the beginning. And as we support each other, our demands should echo theirs, as it DOES make a difference!

  49. John Dolan says:

    “Claims made in a 2004 edition of the now-defunct “60 Minutes II” newsmagazine 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.” Really? In reality, the documents were forged. And it took weeks of pressure from Conservative internet outlets before CBS acted.

  50. stinkin says:

    The administration lied through heir teeth, Hillary, Rice, the Prez….so what.” Who cares” says Hillary?
    In any normal business big or small, these guys would be on unemployment.

More TV News from Variety