CBS News’ Investigation into 60 Minutes’ Phony Benghazi Story Under Fire


Poynter: Nine ways journalists can do justice to transgender people’s stories

Motion Hearing Held In Bradley Manning CaseLauren Klinger, of Poynter wrote an excellent “How To” piece this week on writing about transgender people. Her first suggestion is to refer journalists to the GLAAD transgender styleguide.

“Transgender people make news of all kinds, so reporters of all kinds need to know how to write about them – not just journalists whose beats regularly include diversity issues,” Klinger writes. “Recently, government reporters found themselves writing about Pvt. Chelsea Manning, crime reporters in Orlando covered the murder of Ashley Sinclair, and Cosmo got an exclusive shot at punk rocker Laura Jane Grace’s coming out story.”

But there’s more to covering members of the transgender community than just using the right words.

“You can still be insensitive using the right words,” Janet Mock, an advocate, author and former journalist at People, said in a phone interview. “You can still completely be dehumanizing using the right words.”

“We can’t just accept people for who they are now,” Mock said. “We have to compare it to who they were before.”

“The main way you see trans people show up in the media is as dead bodies,” said Jos Truitt, executive director for development and policy at, a feminist blog and online community.

via Nine ways journalists can do justice to transgender people’s stories | Poynter..

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

On “Brain Drain” at The New York Times: Is The Gray Lady Still the Prettiest Girl at the Party?

  • the-new-york-timesDylan Byers, of Politico, labels recent departures from NYT “brain drain.”
  • Erik Wemple, of The Washington Post, shoots back, “What about Politico’s ‘brain drain’?”
  • Then Byers and Wemple have a Twitter battle over it.
  • During negotiations to keep “stats guru” Nate Silver, his agent commented that his client was “the prettiest girl at the party,” says Michael Calderone in the Huffington Post. Executive Editor Jill Abramson countered that The New York Times is always the prettiest girl at the party.
  • Marc Tracy, in The New Republic, tells media critics to “Stop Hyperventilating!” The Gray Lady is losing staff, but maintaining its “prestige.”

The Guardian Takes NSA Coverage to Twitter’s new Timelines; Politico Creates Energy Insider Tweet Hub

Twitter How to TweetWhen Twitter rolled out its custom timelines Tuesday, two major media outlets were already taking advantage of the new features.

The Guardian used a custom timeline to conduct a Q&A with readers about its recent NSA coverage. And Politico put together a list of tweets related to energy policy.

My first impression is that The Guardian came up with the more interesting use for custom timelines. But I’m also uncertain whether either feature was particularly new, or if custom timelines just offer a different way to do something media outlets have been doing without the new feature.

I’ll have more to say about this later as I explore custom timelines on my own. But in the mean time, this is a sample of what The Guardian did. I’ve also included a simple screen-shot of the Politico “Energy Insider Tweet Hub” brought to you by Chevron.

I’m less impressed with what Politico has done here. This kind of looks like three lists anyone might have been able to create on Twitter before the custom timelines became available. Also, they lose points for allowing an energy company to sponsor their timelines about energy policy.

Politico Energy Insider

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.

…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