After last night’s ninety-second “apology” by Lara Logan on 60 Minutes—the show spent more time on photos of the Beatles with their wives in 1964—it’s certain that CBS wants to turn the page. An insider even confirmed this was the case, according to the New York Times: No internal or independent probe, no disciplining of reporter or producer.
Clearly CBS is terrified of where a probe might lead—for example, revealing why they did this story in the first place and didn’t vet their source. (See my piece on The Nation.com yesterday on the CBS News chief’s background as a honcho at Fox News throughout the Bush years—and Lara Logan revealing her own bias last year. And then there’s the Mary Matalin book connection.)
Only a strong push from other journalists will force CBS to launch such an investigation. I’ll log below what key journalists are saying. Many are making strong statements, although some are still giving CBS points for making any sort of limited apology—as if it could not do that after their source was thoroughly discredited. Others are presuming—with no evidence that I’ve seen—that CBS will make a much longer statement later.
Mike Calderone, who has been on this since beginning, offers a list of unanswered questions at the Huffington Post. For starters:
“Sunday’s brief acknowledgment didn’t resemble a news program seriously trying to get to the bottom of how it got duped. Logan didn’t address during the show how Davies came to be a source for ‘60 Minutes,’ the vetting process of his account, whether the FBI was contacted during the original reporting or after doubts were raised, and the connection between the television booking on Oct. 27 and publication by a CBS subsidiary on Oct. 29.”
Brian Stelter of The New York Times on TV today raises the question I have asked: Did Lara Logan come in with “an agenda”? And why did it take so long to react and will they probe? This may be “in some ways worse” than the Dan Rather affair, but those charging “liberal bias” are louder than critics on the left.
Jay Rosen at his blog:
“Attention now turns to Jeff Fager, as the person at CBS (executive producer of ‘60 Minutes’) who approved the final cut of a deeply flawed report starring a source CBS knew to have lied to his employer, and the executive at CBS, boss of the news division, who decided that it was time to move on from that mistake. Can that conflict of interest stand? So far it looks like it will.”
Frank Rich: “Failure of @CBSNews to report how Lara Logan was duped for ‘a year’ (her claim) by a Benghazi hoax guarantees others will do it for them.” Dan Kennedy: “Pathetically inadequate.” Mike Signorile: “60 Minutes ‘apology’—or ‘mistake,’ as Logan put it— is pathetic. Needs full investigation, ramifications.” Gabriel Sherman: “A show w/ reporting legacy of 60 Minutes should have turned its reporting muscle back on itself to explain to viewers what happened, and why.” Roger Simon of Politico: “60 Minutes needs to do an ‘Anatomy of a Mistake’ piece on its Benghazi story, not just a ‘gee, we’re sorry’ mini-apology.” Marvin Kalb, also at Politico: An apology not enough. “CBS News remains an immensely important resource, but it has now suffered an avoidable setback at a time when all of the media is under a cloud of doubt and suspicion. The network must regain the credibility it lost in Benghazi.”