If you tuned in to 60 Minutes Sunday night to hear Lara Logan's apology for and retraction of her October 27 piece on Benghazi, you may have been disappointed. You may even have been angry. Her apology seemed trivial, the retraction never came.
That report featured private contractor, Dylan Davies and his fictitious version of the events in Benghazi, Libya on that fateful night in September of 2012.
They don't call it 60 Minutes for nothing. Viewers had to sit through the entire program before Logan's terse apology was presented in the final 85 seconds.
Speaking softly and without emotion, Logan admitted that mistakes were made and said that they were sorry. She said that the truth was the most important thing to everyone at 60 Minutes and that the truth was that were wrong to put Dylan Davies on the air. And that, in 85 seconds was that.
Was it, though, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
When Dan Rather's story about George W. Bush's Air National Guard record aired on 60 Minutes in 2004, he had reams of documents that ultimately could not be verified. The documents, which at the time would have been decades old appeared to be legitimate. After an investigation by a blue ribbon panel convened by CBS, Rather's producer, Mary Mapes was fired and three company execs were forced to resign.
This time, there doesn't seem to be any blue ribbon panels. Either CBS was more fearful of George W. Bush's peeps or they're less invested in the truth about Benghazi than they claim to be.
In an old Law & Order: SVU, a teacher is wrongly accused of molesting some of his students, losing his job, his family and all prospects for a happy life. Exoneration did little to bolster his spirits. While the accusations made front-page news, the exoneration was on page 23 of the New York Times and did not make the evening news. All that anyone would remember were the charges.
Logan's Benghazi story used the events as described by Dylan Davies as evidence that the State Department could have sent more help to the embattled outpost at Benghazi and saved the lives of four Americans. Davies' account of that night was not only an integral part of the story, it was the very foundation of the premise of that piece. Without Davis, there was no piece and the premise was unfounded.
On the CBS Morning Show on Friday, anchor Nora O'Donnell asked Logan why she believed Davies' account of that night after finding out that he told his employer, Blue Mountain Security a completely different version in an official incident report filed with the company immediately after the incident. Incredibly, Logan said her trust was based on the fact that Davies was honest about having lied. Seriously.
When asked what 60 Minutes planned to do about what is clearly an egregious error, Logan said that they were going to apologize and correct the record. She was only half accurate.
Something else I got from Law & Order is the conventional wisdom to "follow the money" when trying to solve a crime. Let's ask ourselves, "Who in this scenario might stand to gain by publicizing Davies' story?"
Coincidentally, CBS owns a publishing house by the name of Simon and Schuster. Dylan Davis wrote a book about his heroic efforts that night and the warnings he had issued prior to the attack. The book, "The Embassy House" paints Davies in a very favorable light and was published by Simon and Schuster.
Was Dylan Davies on a book tour? Will he make make Oprah's Book Club?
In a provocative and impassioned speech just a few weeks before her Benghazi story aired on 60 Minutes, Logan issued dire warnings to about 1,000 of Chicago's politicos and media, legal and corporate types. She said that we have neither weakened nor vanquished our radical enemies and that it is they who are writing the story of our war on terror.
Of the attack on Benghazi and the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Logan said that she hoped we would “exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil. That its ambassadors will not be murdered, and that the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it.”
During her speech Ms. Logan was clearly outside her role as an objective news person, but she has the credentials to back up her remarks. Ms. Logan was also the victim of a violent, personal attack in Tahrir Square that may have some influence on her feelings about our foes in the Middle East. If anyone has good reason to want revenge exacted, it is she.
In the case of Dan Rather's 2004 "expose" of George Bush's military career, it was determined that his producer, Mary Mapes was the driving force behind the story. No such driving force has yet been identified behind the Benghazi story and it's unlikely that there will be such a revelation.
Where 60 Minutes' apology most significantly and apparently fell short, though is not retracting the premise of their story. Whether they found a witness to verify their conclusion or drew the wrong conclusion from the testimony of their witness is no longer relevant. What is relevant is that the truth is buried on page 23.
As Andy Rooney might have said, "Why is that?"
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