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What "60 Minutes" kept from viewers

November 27, 2013 - Jim Anderson
On Oct. 27, “60 Minutes” aired a story on the U.S. Embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya, that featured an eyewitness account from a security contractor that was later discredited.

Earlier this week, correspondent Lara Logan was suspended, along with the producer of the segment.

There’s no evidence that anyone at CBS knew that Dylan Davies was a phony, although clearly they didn’t do enough to cross-check his story.

This lapse by CBS is troubling in many respects, but the most glaring omission was this:

“60 Minutes” knew from the start that Davies had told his employer he was unable to get near the Embassy during the attack. Yet the CBS team accepted his explanation that he had lied to his employer, but was now telling the truth.

That background was never shared with viewers.

“This crucial point — his admission that he had not told his employer the truth about his own actions — should have been a red flag in the editorial vetting process,” said Al Ortiz, CBS executive director of standards and practices, in a report about what went wrong.

Except it was more than a red flag. It was a screaming contradiction that — if CBS chose to air an interview with Davies — absolutely had to be made known.

It was one thing for CBS to believe Davies’ account. It was another for them to deny viewers at least the opportunity to decide for themselves.

 
 

 

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