By Gene Lyons

If CBS Wants Its Reputation Back, A Better Explanation Is In Order

November 13, 2013 12:00 am Category: Memo Pad, Politics 34 Comments A+ / A-
If CBS Wants Its Reputation Back, A Better Explanation Is In Order

The comic figure of the braggart soldier first appears in Plautus’s play Miles Gloriosus in roughly 200 BC, although the Roman dramatist acknowledged a now-lost Greek model. So it’s surprising that somebody who’s spent as much time in war zones as 60 Minutes’ Lara Logan failed to recognize the type: a swaggering, self-anointed hero describing military feats nobody witnessed but him.

Bars near military bases around the world harbor fakers like Dylan Davies, aka “Morgan Jones,” as 60 Minutes called him, although they do have to be careful who they lie to. It’s mainly a tactic for fooling gullible women. I used to know a fellow whose girlfriend forgave his drunken blackouts because of his terrible experiences in Vietnam—a war that ended when he was nine.

That said, Lara Logan’s apparent naiveté is far from the most objectionable thing about CBS’s ill-fated attempt to pander to the far right’s odd obsession with the Benghazi tragedy. See, 60 Minutes’ October 27 episode supposedly falsifying the Obama administration’s version of what happened that terrible night in Libya wasn’t so much TV journalism as an infomercial for a book in which CBS had a financial stake—a manifest conflict of interest 60 Minutes neglected to mention until MediaMatters.org called its hand.

Exactly how generous an advance Simon & Schuster’s “Threshold Editions” bestowed upon Davies for his heroic tale about singlehandedly fighting his way into the besieged U.S. compound where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three fellow Americans were killed by a terrorist mob hasn’t been revealed. Presumably enough, however, to give the one-time British mercenary ample reason to concoct a narrative pleasing to its readers’ expectations.

Having previously published books by such innovators in the art of storytelling as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and Jerome Corsi, Threshold editors would appear to be less than rigorous about fact-checking. So excuse me for saying so, but that makes Davies virtually a paid source, and 60 Minutes a practitioner of checkbook journalism that could ruin its well-deserved reputation.

Nothing about the way CBS handled the ensuing controversy gave confidence. After boasting that its report raising “lingering questions” about Benghazi was the result of a year’s reporting and over 100 interviews, the network stonewalled as obvious flaws in its reporting began to appear.

Within three days of the 60 Minutes broadcast, the Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung learned that Davies had submitted a written incident report to Blue Mountain, his British-owned employers—a version in which nothing he told Lara Logan he’d seen and done at the U.S. compound that night could possibly be true, because he’d never actually gone there.

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If CBS Wants Its Reputation Back, A Better Explanation Is In Order Reviewed by on . The comic figure of the braggart soldier first appears in Plautus’s play Miles Gloriosus in roughly 200 BC, although the Roman dramatist acknowledged a now-lost The comic figure of the braggart soldier first appears in Plautus’s play Miles Gloriosus in roughly 200 BC, although the Roman dramatist acknowledged a now-lost Rating:

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Comments

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Wow. Talk about violating the “Stolen Valor” statute! And I bet the Right ate everything he dished out.

  • bob shipp

    CBHoax!

  • dana becker

    CBS worked that story for a year. You can’t tell me they did not have access to the real facts and chose to ignore them.

    • yeehaw

      @dana…Once again CBS is trying to prove to the right wing nuts that they aren’t bias, they’ve bought into the lie that they are a Liberal News Outlet and are doing everything they can to say it ain’t so! They don’t even realize that the Far Right Wing People have their own Bias News Outlet and they don’t intend on watching anything else!!!

      • News Nag

        CBS now IS the right wing, with the former Fox News senior editor in charge of the CBS News division. See my above comment.

    • Pretty Little Ballcrusher

      Exactly. Logan’s production/research budget isn’t exactly peanuts, that was a calculated oversight.

  • adler56

    There is no end to the racist’s attempt to bring down President Obama.
    It’s no longer just brain dead rednecks leading the lies as this story points out.

    • Kurt CPI

      Yep, in your mind everything is about race. You should join with the Benghazi conspiracy theorists and publish a book. Of course there are racists and bigots – they exist in every culture. But they don’t control American culture and certainly do not represent the views of 99% of Americans from either side of the mainstream of politics. It’s sad that you can’t see past your own biased view of humanity.

      • charleo1

        Before Barack Obama, I would have tended to agree. Before Barack
        Obama, I would have also thought the election of an African American to the Presidency, to be possible, although highly unlikely. Not because everything is always, about, or even primarily about race. But, we don’t see Presidents, before Barack Obama, of any other race. And like everything else, the sky is cloudy today, or the disparity between the rich and poor is growing, there is a reason for it. Of course, racists do not control 99% of American culture. But, Barack Obama has proven to me, they control a lot more of it than I would have previously thought. And I am not alone in my thinking.
        So, perhaps more than you realize, due to the company you keep,
        being unaware that there could still be any more than an odd racist, here or there. Which says nice things about the company you keep,
        and you, by association. Yet for more times than I care to count,
        Political opponents of this President, have used the same racial dog whistle tactics, pointing to one well worn stereotypical indictment of
        the President’s racial heritage, after the next. With the Republican brand, Southern Strategy, on full display.

        • yeehaw

          @Charleo…great reply to Kurt, some people think that when you bring up race that’s the only thing on your mind. Most of the time people who make remarks like this are living in a bubble! Even a blind man can see the opposition to the President goes beyond Ideological difference’s. There is a deep seated hatred by those who disagree with this President that reminds me of those who fought every opportunity in the 50’s and 60’s to give people of color rights everybody else enjoyed. President Obama has shown a Tenacity that should make everyone proud!!!

          • charleo1

            Well, I think that’s exactly right! President Obama, and his
            team, had just a mountain of very serious, and complex
            set of problems from day one. And, these were urgent issues too, that couldn’t be ducked, or put aside. Like the economy maybe going into full blown depression. GM, and, Chrysler were another decision the Bush Adm. left to Obama. Afghanistan, again, another of those Bush Adm. initiatives, turned crisis, left to President Obama. Should we cut our losses, and forfeit the blood, and treasure already expended? Or, attempt to bring the war to the best end possible? Tough, difficult decisions. None without risk, nor any, with obvious, or clear answers. So tough in fact, the Republicans thought their best political move would be to oppose everything Obama suggested. Without proposing anything of their own. Then, set back with the advantage of hindsight, and use any missteps as fodder to discredit Obama. As he grappled with the God awful mess, a good many of them were as guilty as anyone else for making. Not my idea of a profile in courage, to be sure! “The Onion,” a satirical online site, you’re probably aware of. I think, put it best, with their post election headline. “America gives Black Man, Worst Job in Country!”

          • Kurt CPI

            No argument with anything you say. I just find it a stretch to cite racism as a theme of this article. Stupidity, yes. Maybe the publisher is racist, maybe Davies is racist. But one would have to read far into the margins to derive that from this text. Just sayin’…

        • Kurt CPI

          Very diplomatically put! I didn’t mean to imply that racism is a long-dead relic. It’s alive and well. To your point, times are changing and the election of a black President represents good evidence of that. I grew up in the 70’s (I graduated in ’74) in a very small, very northern city. In many respects it was socially idealistic, maybe to the point of being naive. In Jr. high, a history teacher showed a movie about the civil rights movement which was at the height of public awareness at the time. The movie was made in the 50’s, but did a good job of showing how blacks were treated as less than second class citizens. Back of the bus; white only restaurants, entrances, water fountains; different treatment under the law; you name it. There were interviews with whites (this was filmed in the south) who spewed rhetorical nonsense with no basis other than bigotry. I can honestly say I’ve never felt so completely ashamed in my life, even though I had no part in it. I could not and do not understand where that kind of hatred stems from. But I’ll also say that I have a lot of friends who are decidedly farther to the right than me politically, fiscally. But none of them are racist, I’d stand by that. So don’t give up hope, it is changing…

          • charleo1

            I think you summed it up very well. And, described something
            that is very close to home for me. Graduating class of 72. From one of those not very diverse towns, in Southwest Mo. MLK was more than likely to be seen as a trouble maker, by the majority, at the time. But this was influenced as much by the forced bussing, just having been required as a part of school integration, that had most of the towns folk ticked off. More than any racial animus toward Dr. King. President Johnson was well thought of. More than Kennedy, I think. Even after signing the Civil Rights Legislation, that changed the politics and Party affiliation in the deep South to this day. It was Vietnam that was Johnson’s undoing in my hometown. Not Civil Rights. And, my peers embraced the idea socially, of racial equality. Our progressiveness, a bit clumsy by today’s standards, perhaps. But slurs, and using the N-word were definitely out. And it was, I think a case of us all feeling exactly the way you described your initial recoil, at seeing these people so mistreated, in these old black and white
            movies, simply because of the color of their skin. Well, we
            decided that wasn’t going to be us. I recall this issue as
            being the first time I ever felt my own parents were dead wrong, about something that didn’t directly involve me.

      • Sand_Cat

        Just keep up that denial!

  • Bill Thompson

    What is more concerning in their correction to their story they never mentioned that Simon and Schuster was a subsidiary of CBS and that a book was ready to be released. The story clearly coincided with the book release and was an attempt by the parent company to make this book a bestseller. Even after watching the 60 minutes segment on the Benghazi attack I was left with more questions then were answered. For example if help was available how long would it have taken to get there? Did Chris Crocker have reservations about being in this situation and were their attempts from him to get more security? Did Chris Crocker himself feel that the embassy should be abandoned? This 60 minutes segment was amateur at best and never should have been aired they knew full well what they were doing. They were selling a book! They allowed a week to go by without making the necessary corrections they hoped it would just go away.

    • charleo1

      It was very Fox like, in it’s presentation. Slick, to be sure. But about the
      third time, I think it was, they made a point of, “informing, ” us, that first permission from the Libyan Government would have had to be obtained.
      And that’s the reason there was no time for our guys to rescue the Ambassador, and his security team. And not a logistical one, as was the conclusion of the independent investigation, and the testimony of those
      who conducted it. I knew immediately what the reaction of the public
      would be, if Obama stood on protocol, while a truly great man, and public servant was killed. And I thought, wait a minute! This is the President that went into Pakistan under cover. And he’s not going into Libya, where the Government is super pro-American. We just helped liberate them, for crying out loud! I started to see this as not only a cleverly inserted infomercial selling a book. But also a deliberate hit job on the President, and more important to the Republican Party, a blatant attempt to cast a cloud over Hillary Clinton. The person the GOP sees as their greatest impediment to recapturing the White House. I quit watching Scott Pelley’s nightly news, for the same slanted journalism that kept popping up in that program. As they left an impression that the conclusion we were supposed to draw, was decidedly Right Wing. When I knew their facts were twisted. And twisted is being kind.

      • News Nag

        A former top Fox News senior editor has been chief of CBS News for quite some time now. Didn’t know that, did we? Also, the new CBS News chief has special responsibility to sign off on all 60 Minutes programs. This story is worse than just selling a book and self-interested lying journalism. It was an attempt to stovepipe false information into the national media through the most celebrated brand name in news. It was a psy-ops program to derail Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid for the presidency. Remember when Cheney had someone feed the NY Times’ Judith Miller lies about Iraq having nuclear weapons before Bush and Cheney invaded? Then the NY Times put Miller’s story about it on the front page? That’s called stovepiping. It’s alive and well at 60 Minutes. It’s not longer a viable trustable news source, nor is CBS with the Fox News mole as its chief. CBS News used to be Murrow, Cronkite, Sevareid, Reasoner, Rather (no he didn’t lie; pay attention to facts please), and now CBS News is clouded by Fox News’ Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, who hired the the CBS News chief as a production assistant and taught him the dark arts of propaganda well, before CBS’s new ownership (Viacom, Inc, a right-wing telecom) brought the Fox News mole over to run the News division. Pretty clear, really, if you know the facts. It’s called reporting. Some people are actually reporting. That’s where these facts came from. Learn to cultivate good sources to inform your reality. All else is disinformation, like with Logan’s story.

        • MerryMarjie

          Well said. Cronkite, especially, would be apoplectic as he was a firm believer in triple checking the facts.

    • Nathaniel

      … very interesting take… & of equal importance, what was suppose to be resolved w/the airing of this story anyway? If this is nothing more – or even ‘newer’ – than additional ‘monday-morning q-backing’, wasn’t this simply a huge waste of money, time & added grief for the families that lost loved one’s? How ludicrous does this all have to get before we all say enough is finally, at last, ENOUGH!?

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    The generation gap today between the highly educated Boomers of the 60s and the Twits of the Twerpie Twittering Generation grows ever more obvious. Now, we have a generation raised in Daycare entering a Middle Age they can’t handle. So they try on the mantle of super educated only to find they possess a too youthful naivete that sends everything they say and do into the circular file. Naivete is NEVER a substitute for wisdom that is only developed by age and experience. I grow ever more bored with the Naive Twerpie Generation.

  • Lovefacts

    60 Minutes didn’t do the most basic fact checking because CBS is the parent company of Simon & Schuster–a fact they didn’t acknowledge during the interview. Their goal was publicity for Davies’ book which was due for release. To heck with whomever it hurt. That also explains their refusal to retract the story until after the FBI confirmed that their interview of Davies on the ground in Libya right after the attack supported his incident report to his employer. In the end, CBS and 60 Minutes have shown a craven disregard for the truth all in the name of selling a liar’s book.

  • howa4x

    I can’t believe that this is still an issue. How many times are we going to bring it up? We didn’t run the bombing of the marines in Beirut and that killed 281 that much. CBS seems intent on capturing some of the FOX crowd.

  • Nathaniel

    … while it’s shocking, but in no way surprising, CBS is now behaving like F.O.X., in the role of ‘hater-in-chief’ on the president. Dragging up this old, tired, lame story one more time, has the affect of ‘piling on’ a beleaguered president who, after taking the wrong advise from Right-leaning advisers in the past, not only has to sort out friend from foe (in his own inner circle), but how to undo the damage they’ve helped create, w/horrid advise! Now THERE’S a story for CBS – why an ‘originally’ Liberal candidate Obama transformed into the conservative ‘President’ Obama & failed to kick out privatized corporate interests that, in the case of the ‘Obamacare’ website (among other instances), continue to be a curse, damning his very presidency to failure! Forgetting that ‘government’ is comprised (or suppose to be anyway) of ‘professionals’, much could have been done – ‘proactively’ – in preventing the ‘Obamacare’ (I really HATE that terminology!!! – i.e., the Affordable Care Act…) website fiasco (handled primarily by ‘privatized’ corporate interests, instead of ‘government’ PROFESSIONALS), in the same way of avoiding the Benghazi tragedy – by re-establishing ‘professional’ government intelligence & ‘professional’ military security, as a means of handling the ‘professional’ requirements expected of competent governance… Instead, the president remains ‘fair game’ for these tawdry, silly, juvenile accusations, carrying the weight of the continued ‘vengence’ campaign against Dem’s for Watergate…

  • HHI Voter

    WaPo: CBS Ran Misleading Story On HealthCare.gov Security Issues
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/cbs-news-ran-misleading-story-on-healthcare-gov-security-issues

    Seems like a pattern

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