CBS Conducting Review Of Controversial 60 Minutes Report

Network makes first admission that it will probe more deeply after offering apology

60 Minutes
Image Courtesy of CBS News

CBS News said it has begun a “journalistic review” of a controversial Oct. 27 report on “60 Minutes”  about last year’s attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, the first word that executives at one of the media’s most respected TV-news outlets are looking more deeply into an embarrassing misstep at the venerable newsmagazine.

“The moment we confirmed there was an issue in our story we began a journalistic review that is ongoing,” a “60 Minutes” spokesman said in a statement sent via email, confirming details posted earlier on Twitter by McClatchy journalist Nancy Youssef.

Word of the internal probe surfaces after “60 Minutes” correspondent offered a quick apology to viewers for relying on a primary source who, as it turned, out provided inaccurate statements about events taking place in Benghazi at the time of the attack. CBS did not say whether Logan’s work, or that of the producer of the segment, Max McLellan, was part of the evaluation.

The “60 Minutes” report came under scrutiny after reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times suggested Dylan Davies, the security officer whose statements provided the grist for the segment, had given inaccurate information to the CBS program. This past Sunday, Logan said the show came to realize it  “has 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 F.B.I.

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

CBS News has steadfastly declined to comment on what measures it might be taking to keep such an error from being repeated, or on whether any incorrect procedures stemmed from the fact that Davies’ account was also published in a book released by Simon & Schuster, another part of CBS Corp.. The corporate connection was not disclosed by “60 Minutes” during its report or cited in the Sunday apology.

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 and former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather leaving the company