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. Ed says:

    Well, if “The most important thing to every person at ’60 Minutes’ is the truth,” don’t tell that to the US military. We think the most important thing for every person at 60 minutes is finding a story that supports their agenda.

  2. Sad for America says:

    Dearest Lara, I love you enough to tell you, next time you liberal boss says “go to Egypt and interview the demonstrator”. You need to know they view women differently. Next time CBS says “these are the creditable interviewees” you need to double check. They might be setting you up.

  3. Linda says:

    “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,”
    WHAT! First, CBS has STANDARDS! Thanks for the laugh. Let’s just say they do have some version of journalistic standards, they sure to pick and choose when to exercise them.

    It would be fabulous if Laura decided she wanted to expose those standards in a book. I would read it.

  4. rudebutcool says:

    hey CBS ever heard the old saying another COCK AND BULL STORY? now we know where CBS came from…Just ask Dan “Cock and Bull Story” Rather…

  5. Keith says:

    ” …. based on documents that could not be authenticated …. ”
    Words fail me. Pity they didn’t fail you.

  6. Ed esposito says:

    An easy way to present the news is integrity. Stop playing “gotcha” politics against one party and simply present the facts without distortion.

  7. perhaps Linbaugh, Beck and Savage would be better suited for 60 minutes.

  8. ascpgh says:

    Too bad the administration isn’t meting out similar response to Susan RIce for running about promoting the sheer fiction of Benghazi being a simple arab picnic gone wild over a YouTube video at every Sunday talking head show and at that bar scene from Star Wars, the UN.

  9. Sparky2 says:

    How come NBC didn’t fire Martin Bashir for saying on air that someone should defecate and urinate is Sarah Palin’s mouth??

  10. deni says:

    Having followed Benghazi in the hours before Youtube took coverage off air, this is the best MSM would ALLOW us to see. And for that thoughtful coverage thickly veiled from American public viewing, this is the network thanks.

  11. Ted Hampton says:

    From Arab spring rape victim hero to CBS zero. Why should we not believe that Lara Logan is being raped all over again?

  12. Timuuro says:

    “You’ve been shown to be a journalistic arm of the government without an ounce of integrity or scruples. Take the Holidays off, kitten, you’ve earned it!”

    -60 Minutes, probably

  13. Ban says:

    The whole of 60 minutes should be canceled. It’s a redundant show nowadays with the news cycle as it is…who needs it anymore?!

  14. CBS has ceded their position of reliability as a source of information and morphed into another buffoonish media whore that works the same low rent corner as Ms Fox. Sad

  15. Xenophon says:

    Nothing. It never does.

  16. E. Johnson says:

    Interesting story. I’m surprised how many people seem to skip right over the paragraph which states: ‘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.’ Does anyone mind that this guy, using a pseudonym, gave an account to Logan that was taken directly from a book that printed his erroneous account of events according to the FBI? And we all know that someone who writes a book for sales and profit surely wouldn’t lie about or exaggerate events, right? Why isn’t anyone outraged about all the embassies attacked during any one of our former presidents’ administrations? It’s happened under everyone’s watch, but for some strange reason, this one is the “worst disaster that’s ever happened” according to Dick Cheney. I thought he would have said 9/11 was the worst disaster, but that happened on his watch so I guess he’s loathe to take credit for it. I’m just amazed how easy it is for some people to either disregard facts or rearrange them to suit their opinions. Just sayin’…

  17. Matt says:

    How is this not clear to you? The main ‘source’ in the story wasn’t even there! The story was discredited because it wasn’t based on fact. That’s what journalism is supposed to be – factually based. Fox News (and the like) has distorted people’s perception of reality, which was likely Murdoch’s aim all along. Wise up.

  18. Bob Forsberg says:

    The report also tarnished the reputation of CBS News anchor Dan Rather? Tarnished? It exposed him to the world for the pompous nitwit he’s always been.

    • Frank W says:

      A friend of mine was telling me about Bush’s no-show with the Guard in 2000. I was wondering why it took so long for the Net’s to catch up if this well read guy knew long before them.

  19. BruddahNui says:

    Lora Logan deserves better.

  20. Isabella says:

    Logan always appeared more interested in the flirt than the facts. Watching her gush in her fake breathy voice while making googoo eyes at any attractive or powerful men she was interviewing was absolutely nauseating and oh so obvious. I could never take her seriously as a reporter.

  21. Dick Tracy says:

    Two down and about a thousand to go.

  22. Dr.A. says:

    Don’t worry, CBS’ credibility is not in jeopardy – it was already in the tank! It’s right up there with AP’s lame excuse for NOT reporting on the IRANIAN nuclear deal…. What a worthless media!

  23. Bill D says:

    I guess when U tell the true facts about that day, the boys upstairs have forgotten what true journalism is.

  24. Lara Logan is an heroic television journalist who has suffered mightily in service to CBS News. After what she endured in Cairo a few years ago, I would expect CBS to be more respectful in its treatment of her, notwithstanding this mistake on this story. Logan has given more to journalism than most of her colleagues and deserves better.

  25. Bev Meier says:

    “The most important thing to every person at ’60 Minutes’ is the truth,” HAHA! As a teenager in the late ’60’s, I saw–on “60 Minutes”–unbelievably contrived flat-out lies about an event that happened in my sight. Truth means nothing to them.

  26. ZEEBRAA says:


  27. davidkachel says:

    CBS is UPSET!!! Somehow, some fool allowed actual news to get out!!!

  28. Kathleen mccarthy says:

    Lara Logan a reporter who has covered the middle east extensively and been abused in the worst way covering a riot in the streets of Cairo ! My God what is wrong with our Country ? Four people in Benghazi were left begging for help and it was Tripoli who could have responded but the Ambassador was denied !
    Ms. Logan continue digging if you have the stomach for it and find redemption in your work ,
    Yes ,Hillary !it does make a difference !

  29. C says:

    Go work for fox /least they will let you tell truth

  30. The 2004, “60 Minuets II” segment, reporting that G W Bush lied about his National Guard service, was based on “documents that (sic) could not be authenticated.” So says Variety/CBS in their explanation. So far from lack of “authentication,” they actually were proven to be forged, on a printer not even invented at the time of the incident. The blogger who discovered the fraud knew it, CBS knew it, Variety knows it, and many in the public finally learned of it, despite gallant efforts by the Paleo Press to spike the truth. Lie, and then lie about the lie. Doubling down may work at a Vegas Blackjack table, but it didn’t work for CBS. Little wonder that CBS, as well as most other major news outlets have lost credibility and readers.

  31. MannysOrphan says:

    Max and Lara keep up the good fight. The story is out there and thus far you’ve come closer to what really went down that evening than anyone else has dared to report. CBS shame on you!

  32. Verily says:

    I have had multiple encounters with 60 Minutes in my career in politics/media and they are THE most unethical program/team of producers ever.

  33. Ralph Gizzip says:

    Fake but accurate, right Lara?

  34. Publicus says:

    What a strange coincidence that 60 Minutes gets caught lying during election years, just days before tight elections. So reassuring that the media is watching oug for us…

  35. John Somma says:

    I used to have respect for CBS back in the Uncle Walter days. Liberal, yet honest and dedicated to the science and professionalism of journalism. Dan Rather onward things have gone downhill.

  36. h2k says:

    False flag.
    This was a plant to throw off those interested in getting to the truth about Benghazi.

  37. Chu Hyon says:

    Hillary Clinton who was Secretary of State when the consulate at Benghazi was attacked is getting $400,000 for speeches recently, while this reported gets the boot.

  38. MattHouston says:

    Another try… Molested in Tahrir Square. Re-molested by CBS. Is that better?

  39. Michael Aldridge says:

    The 60 Minutes snafu is a clear example of a reporter’s bias holding sway over her decision making and presentation of a news story. The media has been determined to find Americans at fault for a chilling terrorist attack on Americans.

  40. Joe Drager says:

    As usual, CBS makes themselves out to be the victim.

  41. mikesvoice says:

    The TRUTH is, is that CBS nor 60 Minutes have even gotten close to the TRUTH! Probably wouldn’t televise it even if they did get to the TRUTH.
    Both institutions have never gotten to the TRUTH regarding Barry Sotero, nor have they made much effort in that direction either!

  42. Mike Burns says:

    “W H A T D I F F E R E N C E D O E S I T M A K E” ?……. future President Hillary Clinton.

  43. Brad Wintzell says:

    I am 62 years old and 60 Minutes has played a huge roll in how I view News and the way it is reported.
    While this particular segment of 60 Min might tend to tarnish your image for a while I certainly hope it does not stop your Hardcore style of reporting.
    Everyone gets it wrong from time to time and I’m sure that Laura wishes she could do it over….
    I will always remember 60 Min this way…
    The worst day of your life is when your secretary says… “There’s a guy from 60 min that wants to speak to you..!

  44. Peter J Brine says:

    Tarnished the reputation of Dan Rather? More like revealed and exposed his total lack of character and a bias so strong he’d be willing to do anything in support of it.

  45. mitch says:

    Not really concerned about a couple of hacks in the media. Why are executive branch heads not rolling over the deaths they are responsible for?

  46. PureTruthandReason says:

    Yup Hilary is all powerful. She can make 60 minutes broadcast b-llshit that that caters to masturbation fantasies of the teabaggers. and, oh by the way, she can control the weather…

  47. Kate says:

    The only thing this proves is that Hillary wants this story to be squelched…after all she has a campaign to run right? Lord knows it couldn’t be her fault right? Anniversary of Sept.11th? Heck even a lay person not in politics would have had extra security at American Embassies all over the world especially the middle east wouldn’t they? Nah…. not Clinton. A millionaire in California said it right. “All politicians lie, it’s just the Clinton’s do it with such ease.” I believe the little guy in this report and I believe Logan. She’s been in the middle East…she talked with people there and judging from our lying White House….can we believe the CIA or FBI? If you say yes…you are lost and naive.

  48. cbs has made a habit of bullshit journalism….go back to dan rather and his lies about bush……the forged Xerox copy of bushs national guard service..PLEEZ..this bit with Benghazi wont be the last time cbs does all its viewers a disservice and just out and out lies.

  49. Steve D says:

    They never said the story was incorrect or, how only they shouldn’t have used the source. They should have said the report was crap and incorrect

  50. She’s the only reason to watch. She’s hot. Everybody else is a hundred years old. She can lie all she wants to.

More TV News from Variety