UPDATE: Two days after their “apology” Friday morning, 60 Minutes covered their bogus reporting on the Benghazi scandal in their regular show tonight. It came after Jeff Fager, the executive producer, told Michael Calderone of Huff Post that, yes, Dylan Davies had told them he lied to his boss about where he was on the fateful night. And yet they went ahead with their report, without seemingly tough vetting, after that.
Here’s a write-up on tonight’s “apology” by Lara Logan, which last all of ninety seconds and added nothing to their earlier statements. Now they are “very sorry” but she calls it simply “a mistake.” Pathetic. Clearly they will try to tough it out and not even do a major probe, so it’s up to other journalists to push them. See other important updates today at the bottom of my piece below. And go to my Pressing Issues blog for reactions by other media writers to tonight’s stonewalling, and other updates.
Earlier: Tonight’s the night 60 Minutes promises to come clean(er) about its bogus Benghazi report two weeks back. After stonewalling for so long, claiming that their source only told “one story,” and suggesting critics were mere “partisans,” CBS pulled the segment from its site and Lara Logan and the gang offered a hasty “apology” Friday morning—but only after The New York Times blew their “source” out of the water.
Jay Rosen in an important post last night offered his own assessment on what 60 Minutes should and must say tonight, including apologizing for that length of time it took for it to admit its source—the clearly duplicitous contractor Davies a k a Jones—had told two stories and needed to be probed.
But Rosen goes further in calling for a full probe of the incident, perhaps on the scale of the CBS investigation of Dan Rather and Mary Mapes in the Bush National Guard fiasco. I certainly agree, but CBS chiefs have given no indication that they are considering this, and have not—as I have advised—suspended Lara Logan and her producer in the meantime.
Rosen, as I have done previously, also raises the issue of the story’s link to Mary Matalin’s right-wing imprint at Simon & Schuster, which just pulled the book co-authored by the same “source.” Did the whole segment come from that Matalin valley of wackiness? If so, you might say 60 Minutes got “Breitbarted.” Or as the saying goes, if you lie down with dogs, don’t complain if you get fleas.
But here’s another angle that’s gotten little attention so far, and I’ll do more on it later: Few seem to realize that a former Fox News exec became the head of the CBS News in February 2011. He is David Rhodes. His bio at CBS declares:
He directs network newsgathering for all CBS News platforms including television, CBSNews.com, and CBS News Radio.
With CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager, Rhodes has led a division-wide rejuvenation of the storied CBS News brand, emphasizing the Original Reporting of top broadcast journalists around the world. A rededication to the news division’s hard-news roots runs through every broadcast.
Pardon my chuckle over that last sentence.
The bio also reveals:
Rhodes began his career as a Production Assistant at the newly-launched Fox News Channel in 1996, where he later became Vice President of News. At the network he managed coverage of three presidential elections, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, hurricanes including Katrina, and was the channel’s Assignment Manager on the news desk the morning of September 11, 2001.
So, imagine: This was the guy who worked hand-in-glove on the biased, often propagandistic, Fox “coverage” of the run-up to the Iraq war, the 2000/2004/2008 elections, the Plame affair, the worst years in Iraq, and all other things Bush and Cheney, and so on.
What are his own political views? In a Crain’s mini-profile not long ago he cited his “eclectic” voting record. His brother Ben Rhodes famously works for President Obama as his oft-criticized national security adviser, and David Rhodes has said “no one in that house” growing up “agreed on anything.” Brit Hume actually visited Twitter earlier this year to point out that while David’s brother was serving Obama, David “was hardly thought a liberal” while helping to run Fox News during its key years.
Just one month ago, 60 Minutes aired what I called “a hatchet job” on alleged disability fraud.
Rhodes chief associate is Chris Licht, vp of programming, who was executive producer of Joe Scarborough’s conservative show at MSNBC and then ran the Morning Joe operation.
UPDATE: Jay Rosen points us to a Comment following his latest from a veteran of thirty-four years at CBS, who contrasts the Dan Rather and Lara Logan scandals. Especially good to remind us of how Dan was at the sinking 60 Minutes 2 while Logan was a regular at the still-a-cash-cow 60 Minutes. All very good, but I disagree with his conclusion that there’s no need for CBS to fully probe the latest affair.
UPDATE #2: Great post here by Digby on a Lara Logan speech one year ago (and see video) where she exposed herself as a raging, biased hawk on exacting revenge for the Benghazi attack. Digby, the longtime ace blogger, also looks at other Logan statements about Libya and Afghanistan, showing that likely her own bias led to not asking right questions on her star “source.” Logan even admits that her boss had to remind her that she was seek the truth and not merely trying to prove her own views.
Needless to say, the fact that she fell for such a clearly ridiculous hoax was due to her biases. She shows in that speech that she had already made up her mind about what happened. And 60 Minutes should have been professionally skeptical of her story because of that. Logan’s agenda blinded her to the fact that she was being played.