Lara Logan is back at work at CBS newsmag 60 Minutes after being ordered to take a leave of absence for her role in a story about the raid on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. A CBS News spokesperson confirmed the news to Deadline; the rep declined to provide more information, such as when Logan will be seen on the air, what will be the segment, etc. The newsmag returns to original reports in the fall.
Logan was blasted for an October 60 Minutes report on the 2012 Benghazi raid on the since-discredited testimony of a security contractor Dylan Davies, who claimed to have witnessed the 2012 attack. An internal CBS report subsequently dinged Logan for doing the story at all, after she’d made public comments about the U.S. campaign against al-Qaida.
Logan had been on a leave of absence over their report since November, when CBS News announced Logan and producer Max McClellan were taking their leaves of absence. (McClellan also is expected to return.) The move came after that internal investigation was released, and an announcement to staffers by CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager, via a memo. Also at that time came out the full summary of findings by Al Ortiz, CBS News’ Executive Director of Standards and Practices, who had investigated the journalistic embarrassment.
Media critics were skeptical of the steps CBS had taken, in re the botched 60 Minutes segment, before even knowing the results. Media-centric Sunday shows on cable news networks CNN and Fox News Channel were not impressed with the idea of a CBS internal review of the newsmag’s Benzhazi segment, which CBS News had said was reported out for a year, based on bum information given by the now-discredited security contractor who’d written a now-discredited book about the incident for CBS’ publishing division. Some of the talking heads on those shows noted, like they meant it to sting, that CBS News exec producer Al Ortiz would take the results of his investigation into the failure of 60 Minutes exec producer Fager to the chairman of CBS News — Fager. “60 Minutes needs to re-report this story and share the results with the public,” CBS News alum Terence Smith had advised on CNN’s Reliable Sources. Lara Logan’s day of apologizing “isn’t enough,” chimed in Fox News’ MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz, who also called for an outside investigation, adding his boilerplate “We all make mistakes — myself included.” Back then, CBS News rep told Deadline, “The 60 Minutes journalistic review is concluded, and we are implementing ongoing changes based on its results.”
Logan has won multiple awards, including Emmys, and had served as CBS News’ Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent based in DC. She had contributed to 60 Minutes and CBS News since 2002; in 2011, while on assignment in Egypt, she was sexually assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and spent four days in the hospital — then told the story of the attack in a 60 Minutes segment.
Here was Fager’s memo to staff at the time Logan was put on leave:
By now most of you have received the report from Al Ortiz about the problems with the 60 Minutes story on Benghazi.
There is a lot to learn from this mistake for the entire organization. We have rebuilt CBS News in a way that has dramatically improved our reporting abilities. Ironically 60 Minutes, which has been a model for those changes, fell short by broadcasting a now discredited account of an important story, and did not take full advantage of the reporting abilities of CBS News that might have prevented it from happening.
As a result, I have asked Lara Logan, who has distinguished herself and has put herself in harm’s way many times in the course of covering stories for us, to take a leave of absence, which she has agreed to do. I have asked the same of producer Max McClellan, who also has a distinguished career at CBS News.
As Executive Producer, I am responsible for what gets on the air. I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.
When faced with a such an error, we must use it as an opportunity to make our broadcast even stronger. We are making adjustments at 60 Minutes to reduce the chances of it happening again.
There is a lot of pride at CBS News. Every broadcast is working hard to live up to the high standard set at CBS News for excellence in reporting. This was a regrettable mistake. But there are many fine professionals at 60 Minutes who produce some of the very best of broadcast journalism, covering the important and interesting stories of our times, and they will continue to do so each and every Sunday.
Chairman, CBS News
Executive Producer, 60 Minutes