NEW YORK: CBS ordered 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan and her producer to take a leave of absence Tuesday following a critical internal review of their handling of the show’s October story on the Benghazi raid, based on a report on a supposed witness whose story can’t be verified.
The review, by CBS News executive Al Ortiz and obtained by the Associated Press, said the 60 Minutes team should have done a better job vetting the story that featured a security contractor who said he was at the U.S. mission in Libya the night it was attacked last year.
Questions were quickly raised about whether the man was lying — something 60 Minutes should have better checked out before airing the story, the report said.
The report also said Logan should not have done the story in the first place after making a speech in Chicago a year ago claiming that it was a lie that America’s military had tamed al-Qaida.
CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager, who is also the 60 Minutes executive producer, said he had asked Logan and her producer, Max McClellan, to take a leave of absence of an undetermined length.
Fager said he prides himself on catching almost everything, “but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.” There was no word about whether Fager will face any repercussions for his role.
“The 60 Minutes journalistic review is concluded, and we are implementing ongoing changes based on its results,” said CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair, not making clear what those changes were.
The 60 Minutes piece relied on testimony by Dylan Davies, a security official who was given a pseudonym in the report. The newsmagazine believed his account that he was at the scene even after informing CBS that he told his employers that he wasn’t there — something that Ortiz said should have raised a “red flag” about his story.
Ortiz said that Logan’s claims that al-Qaida carried out the attack and controlled the hospital in Benghazi “were not adequately attributed in the report.”
Congressional Republicans have insisted that the Obama administration misled Americans about the Benghazi attack, playing it down in the heat of the presidential campaign.
The liberal advocacy group Media Matters for America had attacked CBS’ report. Group founder David Brock said he had urged appropriate action and “the network has done that.”