Dan Rather: CBS News Can’t Blame Lara Logan For 60 Minutes’ Flawed Benghazi Report Debacle Anymore

logan.cbs.thismorning2Veteran newsman, Dan Rather who was forced into early retirement after making his own mistake on 60 Minutes, says CBS News can’t just blame Lara Logan, her producers and the newsmagazine for its erroneous report on the terrorist attack on America’s Embassy in Benghazi.

“It’s in the nature of these large corporations that when the stuff hits the fan, they want to blame the correspondent. Whatever happened, and if there’s any blame, whatever blame there is, has to start at the top of the corporation and go through the leadership of the news division. It isn’t just Lara Logan.” — Dan Rather

“There is a difference between this and the trouble I got in at CBS News. We got into trouble, that is I and the other reporters, because we reported a true story. What we had was true. The difficulty with the Benghazi story is, as they now have acknowledged, the story was not a true and they stood by it for a long time.” – Dan Rather

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Media Critics, Political Writers Do Not Accept 60 Minutes Benghazi Apology; Call For Investigation

  • logan-davies-benghaziTalking Points Memo Editor and Publisher Josh Marshall called Lara Logan’s 90 Second, 60 Minutes correction “bogus.” And he put quotation marks around “correction.”
  • New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman called on 60 Minutes to turn “its reporting muscle back on itself to explain to viewers what happened, and why.”
  • NYU Journalism Prof. and Pressthink Editor Jay Rosen tweeted that the two most “outstanding features” of the correction on the “CBS Benghazi debacle” was that it was in the passive voice — not really taking responsibility — and didn’t acknowledge that they only admitted they were wrong after other media outlets pressured them by running stories showing that CBS had been duped.

Background: On Oct.27, 2013 CBS ran a 60 Minutes segment reported by Lara Logan featuring a security contractor they identified by the pseudonym Morgan Jones (real name Dylan Davies) who claimed to have scaled the walls of the American Embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012 , rescued citizens, and saw the body of murdered ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Within a few days, other media outlets were questioning the veracity of Davies’ story and soon produced affidavits Davies gave the FBI and his employer contradicting the version of events he recounted to 60 Minutes. Last week, as the number of prominent members of the press and their critics grew CBS announced that it was considering making a correction. Logan went on CBS News This Morning on Thursday last week to say that 60 Minutes would indeed issue a correction, saying she had been “misled.”

The much anticipated 60 Minutes apology for failures in the reporting process that led CBS to report a hoax as news fell flat Sunday night.

It was too short, it didn’t answer any questions and it wasn’t really the apology media critics and political writers had hoped for.

In particular, Logan got slammed for failing to explain why she trusted Dylan Davies in the first place, what 60 Minutes had done to verify his story and how she and her producers had missed two separate documents that contradicted the version of events he portrayed on the program.

Other critics also demanded to know why the network, the newsmagazine and Logan herself defended the story for so long in the face of evidence debunking it.

New York Times television writers reported the scuttlebutt about debates among “veteran television journalists,” on whether 60 Minutes had damaged it’s reputation in the long term. Adding that some media critics had joined the rising chorus calling for an “independent investigation,” to find out how CBS screwed up so bad.

While veteran television journalists spent the weekend debating whether the now-discredited Benghazi report would cause long-term damage to the esteemed newsmagazine’s brand, some media critics joined the liberal advocacy group Media Matters for America in calling for CBS to initiate an independent investigation of missteps in the reporting process.

Brian Stelter and Bill Carter, The New York Times

Stelter was referring to a piece CBS News did on its morning show Thursday, where Logan apologized and announced that the show would issue a retraction Sunday night.

Fox News denizen, conservative media critic and talking head Howard Kurtz also complained about the brevity of Logan’s apology, which came at the bottom of the program.

Kurtz also indicated that he thought the apology spent too much time  shifting the blame on to a source who duped them, while not explaining how that happened.

CBS owes its viewers “a detailed explanation,” of how their source was able to put one over on them so easily “at a minimum,” TPM’s Marshall wrote.

logan.cbs.thismorning2

…when journalists deal with charlatans, it’s a tricky business because it’s usually a matter of proving a negative. You need to come up with evidence of various sorts that either proves or undermines their credibility. You seldom get so lucky as to have two independent pieces of documentary evidence that completely impeach the source’s account (first, his immediate reports to his employers and second, the later account to the FBI). Neither could have been that difficult for a news organization of CBS News’ size and heft to find since the Post and the Times got both within 10 days of the story airing.

I don’t know the players involved enough to know whether this happened because of bias, indifference, arrogance or wild sloppiness. But you can’t screw up much bigger than this. At a minimum there needs to be some detailed explanation of how this big a screw could have happened. And the comparison with the aftermath of the Rather/Bush Air National Guard debacle (largely deserved in terms of who was held accountable) speaks volumes.

Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

That sure contrasts CBS’s response to Dan Rather’s 2004 report on then-president George W. Bush’s National Guard service, which turned out to be based on faulty documents. That time the network did investigate, and fired four producers. Rather left his anchor job shortly after he admitted to flawed reporting. A more recent example of how a respected news show deals with getting duped comes to us from This American Life, which devoted an entire episode to parsing how it had fallen for Mike Daisey’s fabricated tale of his visit to a factory making Apple products.

Gabriel Sherman, New York Magazine

Tonight’s apology by CBS will not deal in any serious way with its misguided response to the very legitimate questions that were raised about its Benghazi report. If I am wrong, that will be good news for journalism at CBS and I will happily report it in an update here.

Jay Rosen, Press Think

One editorial board member’s shift in priorities

VIVIAN J. PAIGE | All Politics is Local

political-ender_t320_240Donald Luzzatto, editorial page editor at The Virginian-Pilot, penned an article for yesterday’s paper in which he noted that he will be de-emphasizing incumbency as he evaluates candidates for endorsement this fall.

A bent toward incumbency isn’t by any means new. It has been a factor in Virginian-Pilot editorial page endorsements for a long time, on the grounds that experience confers expertise and power. What’s different now is the politics.

You can be utterly incompetent and still get re-elected by having a beating heart. You can parrot the most unhinged ideas, work against the needs of your district, be lazy, and it may not matter because of the electoral mathematics.

[…]

So while experience will still count as we enter a new round of candidate interviews and endorsements, it’ll count less for me.

Notice that Luzzatto says “for me.” Not for the entire editorial board, which consists of…

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Journalism: You Know It When You See It

Media Politics in Perspective

By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program

Right now, Dianne Feinstein and other members of the U.S. Senate are trying to define the word press – the same press that is mentioned in the first line of the First Amendment to the Constitution. No matter how well intentioned their plan may be, it could backfire badly.

When news first broke back in May that the Justice Department had seized the phone records of Associated Pressreporters and tracked the movements ofFox News’ James Rosen, it was a great opportunity for Congress to pass the stronger protections for freedom of the press that liberty requires.

The public was outraged and big name Senators from both parties, including New York’s Chuck Schumer and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, proposed new laws to protect journalists from prosecution.

That bipartisan push for a media shield law has now hit a snag.

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Perry Appoints Former Reporter New Chief Of Staff

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

 

AUSTIN (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry has appointed a new chief of staff as he prepares for retirement.

Perry named former Houston Chronicle reporter Kathy Walt on Monday to manage his office. Walt previously worked for Perry’s press secretary when he took office in 2000. Most recently she’s worked for the Lower Colorado River Authority in charge of government relations.

The governor also named Jonathan Taylor to serve as director of the Economic Development and Tourism Division. Aaron Demerson will be a senior adviser for economic development.

Perry announced last month that he will not seek re-election. That gives him only 16 months left as governor.

Perry has held open the possibility of a second run for president in 2016. He has recently made high-profile appearances at national Republican events.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Zim police hunting for two British journalists

Zimbabwe Election: Latest News & Voting Information

Police in Harare have launched a manhunt for British journalists Jerome Starkey and Jan Raath for spreading falsehoods that Zimbabwe signed a secret deal to export uranium to Iran for the manufacture of “a nuclear weapon”.

In a case likely to embarrass the British media, outgoing Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Mr Gift Chimanikire yesterday denied statements the journalists attributed to him confirming the said deal.

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Republicans, Democrats both divided on whether media should report on secret anti-terror methods

Media Politics in Perspective

By Katie Reilly

DN_Media_ReportThe American public is divided in its approval of the government’s anti-terrorism surveillance programs as well as in its opinion about whether the news media should report on what it finds out about secret methods being used to fight terrorism.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 50% of Americans approve of the government’s collection of telephone and internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts, while 44% disapprove. In addition, Americans are evenly divided about whether the news media should report on the government’s secret anti-terrorism methods, with 47% saying it should and an equal number disagreeing.

Both Democrats and Republicans reflect these divisions. Half (51%) in each party say the news media should not report information they obtain about the secret methods the government uses to fight terrorism. About the same percentage of Democrats (45%) and Republicans (43%) say the news media should report that…

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