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From "Proud" To Pulled: A Timeline Of 60 Minutes' Benghazi Trainwreck (Part I)


BEN DIMIERO & ERIC HANANOKI
November 8, 2013
Media Matters for America
http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/11...nutes-b/196801





Last month, CBS' flagship news program 60 Minutes aired a segment on the 2012 terror attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The report was quickly seized on by conservative media outlets and Republican lawmakers for supposedly having validated their 14 month-long quest to turn Benghazi into a Watergate-level political scandal for the Obama administration.


12 days later, 60 Minutes has pulled the report, apologized to viewers, and announced plans to correct the record during the next broadcast on Sunday.


Here's what happened.

October 27: 60 Minutes Report Airs




60 Minutes' Benghazi report aired the night of October 27. The segment featured the supposed "eyewitness" account of the attacks from British security contractor Dylan Davies, who appeared on the show under the pseudonym "Morgan Jones."

Davies' tale included him scaling a 12 foot wall on the side of the diplomatic compound and dispatching a terrorist with his rifle butt. He also told viewers about how he had supposedly seen Ambassador Chris Stevens' dead body in a local hospital.

In addition to Davies' story, the 60 Minutes report also rehashed old myths about Benghazi, including invoking the "lingering question" about why no U.S. military forces from outside the country were able to help the embattled diplomatic facilities the night of the attacks. (This was answered long ago.)

The night it aired, conservatives took to Twitter to praise CBS. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley lauded the network for joining Fox News "among the very, very few reporting on this grave & outrageous scandal." Fellow Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg also connected CBS' work to Fox's reporting on Benghazi, tweeting "This 60 Minutes #benghazi piece corroborates pretty much everything #foxnews has reported so far."

October 28-30: Conservative Media And Republican Lawmakers Laud CBS

The morning after the 60 Minutes report aired, Fox News hit the ground running promoting it. Over the course of Monday, October 28, Fox would devote more than 13 segments over 11 different shows to the CBS report, totaling more than 47 minutes of coverage.

Much of Fox's coverage was self-congratulatory, claiming the CBS report had corroborated their network's coverage of Benghazi. Bret Baier, host of Fox's flagship news show Special Report, told viewers that "[l]ast night, one of journalism's heavy hitters reaffirmed what we knew and had reported on." Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy praised CBS for "finally catching up" to conservative media on the story and proclaimed, "60 Minutes doesn't cover phony scandals." The network also predictably used the 60 Minutes story to revive its smear campaign against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Benghazi.

Of course, Fox wasn't the only conservative outlet to run with the 60 Minutes segment. It was picked up by, among others, The 700 Club, Breitbart.com, Glenn Beck's The Blaze, and many other conservative blogs.

Following the CBS report, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on Fox News and announced that he planned to hold up all presidential nominations until Benghazi witnesses are made available for questioning by Congress. Graham also used an appearance on CNN to proclaim that the CBS report proved the administration's account of the Benghazi attacks "doesn't have an ounce of truth in it."




Republican Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf released a statement using the CBS report as evidence that Congress needs to form a special congressional committee to investigate Benghazi.

Other Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, also promoted the CBS report.

Amid all this praise by conservative media and Republican lawmakers, Davies' book The Embassy House, which featured his dramatic story, was released on October 29.

But nestled among the fulsome praise of the 60 Minutes segment by Fox News, conservative media, and Republican lawmakers was a major warning sign: On the 28th, Fox correspondent Adam Housley reported on-air that the network had previously spoken with Davies about Benghazi several times, but "stopped speaking to him when he asked for money."

October 31-November 1: Washington Post Reveals Major Flaw In Davies' Story

The night of October 31, The Washington Post reported that Davies' account in his book and on CBS differed greatly from an incident report he had filed with his security contractor employer, Blue Mountain, three days after the attack.

According to the Post, the incident report stated that Davies "could not get anywhere near" the compound the night of the attack, and that he found out about Ambassador Stevens' death not by finding him in a local hospital, but from a Libyan colleague.

In a statement to the Post, CBS gave the first hint of the intransigence that would mark their response to the implosion of the 60 Minutes report, telling the paper that the network "stand[s] firmly by the story we broadcast last Sunday."

But outside of CBS, criticism of the 60 Minutes report was growing. In interviews with Media Matters, several journalism veterans and media ethicists questioned the "serious problem" with the CBS report.



On November 1, Media Matters founder and chairman David Brock, citing the dubious nature of Davies' accounts of the night of the attacks, called on CBS to retract its story and form an independent investigative committee to "probe all aspects of how the story was reported."