‘Benghazi and the Bombshell:’ Lara Logan’s return to CBS still unclear
Logan was made to apologize and was suspended in connection with a flawed report on the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi
The return of CBS's “60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan to the news network is still an open question following a report that has delved deeper into the tensions that simmered at CBS as she was forced to take an indefinite leave of absence last November.
Logan was made to apologize and was suspended in connection with a flawed report on the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, in which American Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.
In a report published on Sunday titled “Benghazi and the Bomshell,” New York Magazine’s Joe Hagan documented journalistic and managerial errors that led to the damaging Benghazi coverage.
Logan was suspended after she relied on her primary source, a security contractor hired to help protect the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, named Dylan Davies, whose credibility was in doubt.
Davies had talked about the poor U.S. preparations and the chaos of the night Stevens was killed. His story was mentioned in Congress to criticize President Barack Obama for not having sent U.S. forces to rescue the embassy staff trapped inside the compound.
But doubts into the CBS report emerged after the segment aired, when it was reported that Davies may not have been present on the night of the attacks at the compound. The New York Times published a story revealing that Davis also told the FBI that he never went to the embassy compound on the night of the attack.
Behind the scenes
Hagan pointed the finger at grave fact-checking mistakes made by CBS and Logan.
“No calls were made to the State Department or the FBI specifically to vet Davies’s claims,” he wrote, adding:
“Logan’s own credulity, it seems, was the central pillar of the report. When asked why she found Davies’s account believable, Logan said that Davies was one of the ‘best guys you’ll ever meet’ and a few minutes with him would convince anyone of his candor, according to a person familiar with her comments. And Davies’s tale of heroic special-forces operators being let down by politicians and bureaucrats thousands of miles from the front made sense in the world in which Logan had been living for the better part of a decade.”
As Hagan also put it, a "perfect storm" of recklessness on Logan's part, her bosses' reluctance to keep their star correspondent in check and a lack of oversight in CBS' news division allowed the problematic Benghazi report to air.
During the fallout, a founding member of "60 Minutes," Morley Safer, reportedly marched into executive producer Jeff Fager's office and demanded that Logan be fired, according to Hagan.
Another unnamed source suggested to the Hagan that CBS President Les Moonves has since "soured" on Logan, whom he previously treated as a favorite.
Hagan reports that it is unclear whether Logan is set to return to “60 Minutes” later this year.
“So Lara Logan may, or may not, return in the fall season. Either way, the show must go on. Waiting in the wings is a new up-and-comer,” wrote Hagan.
In a statement to Al Arabiya News, a spokesperson for CBS's "60 Minutes" said: “There is no change to Lara's staus at the moment. She is still suspended," not adding what the future may hold for Logan.
On the American political stage, Benghazi remains one of the U.S.’s “unresolved issues,” Ibrahim Sharqieh, a conflict resolution analyst at the Brookings Doha Center, told Al Arabiya News.
“Benghazi represents one of America’s unresolved issues that triggered severe controversy within the U.S. political system.
“Yes, the media had a huge role in the aftermath of the attack and definitely played a role in sensationalizing the incident, however there are real issues and important at play here.
The attack imprinted itself on the American psyche, Sharqieh added.
"When we remember Libya now in any American political debate, we always jump to think of Benghazi while forgetting the rest of the country, such as Tripoli and the south, where there are serious political concerns.”