Lara Logan, '60 Minutes' Correspondent, Takes Leave Of Absence Following Inaccurate Benghazi Report
60 Minutes correspondent, Lara Logan, is taking a leave of absence in light of the fall-out of her inaccurate segment on the Benghazi attack that aired during the Oct. 27, 2013 episode of the news program.
'60 Minutes' Benghazi Report
In the episode, Logan interviewed Dylan Davies, a contractor hired as a member of the security team at the US Embassy in Benghazi. Davies, using the name ‘Morgan Jones’ on the program, claimed to have rushed to the compound and gave an entire interview of a fabricated eye witness account. During the interview with Logan, Davies even claimed to have seen the body of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens at a local hospital.
After the episode aired, it was revealed that Davies had, in fact, told a very different story in his initial report on the incident. In an interview with his employer and the FBI, Davies had stated that he did not go to the compound and did not witness any part of the attack as claimed. When Davies’ interview with the FBI was uncovered just days after the program aired, 60 Minutes retracted the story after a damning report in The New York Times Nov. 7, and Logan offered an on-air apology, saying, “The most important thing to everybody at 60 Minutes is the truth. And the truth is, we made a mistake.”
Mistakes Found In Internal Review
Of course, for many viewers and for many at the network, the apology was too little too late. CBS News ordered a review of the program led by Al Ortiz, CBS News executive director of standards and practices. Ortiz determined that Logan and producer, Max McClellan – also put on leave – could have avoided the mistake had they used “wider reporting resources of CBS News” to fact-check the story.
“It’s possible that reporters and producers with better access to inside FBI sources could have found out that Davies had given varying and conflicting accounts of his story,” Ortiz concluded.
According to reports, Logan and the team behind the unfortunate installment of 60 Minutes had, in fact, become aware that the story Davies told them differed from the one he told his boss. However, Logan and McClellan believed that Davies’ account to the FBI was “in sync” with what he was telling them. Aware of the discrepancies in Davies’ story, Ortiz writes that he believes Logan and McClellan could have vetted their interviewee more thoroughly:
“Logan and producer Max McClellan told me they found no reason to doubt Davies’ account and found no holes in his story. But the team did not sufficiently vet Davies’ account of his own actions and whereabouts that night.”
Lara Logan And Producer At Fault
Furthermore, in October 2012, Logan gave a speech in which she called the US Government to action and respond to the Benghazi attack. The speech was delivered just one month before Logan began working on the Benghazi report and Ortiz writes that, but taking such a public stance on the issue, Logan did not adhere to CBS News Standards practices. More specifically, Ortiz cautions, “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.”
The episode in question, which aired Oct. 27, 2013 has been removed from the official CBS 60 Minutes website, and is no longer available for online viewing.
“We are making adjustments at 60 Minutes to reduce the chances of it happening again… Every broadcast is working hard to live up to the high standard set at CBS News for excellence in reporting. This was a regrettable mistake,” Jeff Fager, CBS News chairman and executive producer of 60 Minutes wrote in an e-mail to CBS employees.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong