CBS News Journalist Sharyl Attkisson Quits; Media Argues Whether She Exited Stage Right

By | Monday March 10, 2014 @ 7:12pm PDT

LisaColumn__131015210634-275x198CBS News investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson resigned Monday after months of ill-concealed unhappiness with the network. It was the denouement of a drama that’s been played out among The Reporters Who Cover Television for some time, with Attkisson as the heroine. But while conservatives cast her as the gutsy reporter who stood up to her network’s Sharyl-Attkissonliberal bias and its deep-sixing of her work on Benghazi and other Obama administration evasions and departs after acrimonious contract talks fell apart, liberals cast her as the mainstream investigative journalist who fell down the agenda-driven reporting rabbit hole. Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich CC’d her network when she retweeted Attkisson’s “I have resigned from CBS,” while New York magazine headlined, “The Right’s Favorite Mainstream Benghazi Reporter Resigns From CBS.” Yeah, it went like that pretty much all day.

Related: ‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi Fallout: Lara Logan, Producer Take Leave Of Absence

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Dan Rather: CBS News Should Not Dismiss Lara Logan Over Botched ‘60 Minutes’ Report; Division Still Has “A Lot To Answer For”: Video

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 7:51am PST

Dan Rather mug 2013Lara Logan should not be let go by CBS News over her botched Benghazi report on 60 Minutes, former CBS newsman Dan Rather said in response to a question by CNN’s Piers Morgan. She should be judged by her body of work, said the former network news anchor who got pushed out of the network over a mangled CBS News report with which he was involved, back in 2004. Logan and producer Max McClellan are on a leave of absence over their report, based on now-discredited claims made by security contractor Dylan Davies that he witnessed  the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

Related: ‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi Fallout: Lara Logan, Producer Take Leave Of Absence

“In my opinion, clearly labeled: No,” Rather said Monday night on Morgan’s primetime show.  “Whatever one thinks of what Lara Logan did, or didn’t do, with the story, in fairness it should be put against her whole record. She’s still a very young correspondent, but for a young correspondent she has a distinguished record — it should be seen in that context and that perspective,” said Rather. CBS News, he added, “has a lot to answer for this. There’s a lot of questions, and they’ve answered some of them.”

Logan’s bungling was worse than the mangled 2004 report on President George W. Bush’s National Guard service that famously got him pushed out of the same news organization years ago, Rather suggested.  In that report, documents were cited alleging Bush got preferential treatment during his Texas Air National Guard service in the Vietnam era – documents the news division later said, after investigation, it could not authenticate. Three execs were let go and Rather retired as anchor of the CBS evening newscast, leaving the network entirely in ’06. Read More »

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‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi Fallout: Lara Logan, Producer Take Leave Of Absence

By | Tuesday November 26, 2013 @ 11:07am PST

Lara Logan, the reporter behind 60 Minutes‘ now-discredited story on the Benghazi attacks, has agreed to take a leave of absence from CBS News. Also taking a leave is producer Max McClellan. The move comes after an internal investigation was released today and an announcement to staffers by CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager in a memo obtained by Deadline, and included in this post. Also obtained is the full summary of findings by Al Ortiz, CBS News’ Executive Director of Standards and Practices.

It’s unclear whether the report and Fager’s memo will placate media critics, who were skeptical of the steps CBS was taking, in re the botched 60 Minutes segment, before even knowing the results. Two Sundays ago, media-centric Sunday shows on cable news networks CNN and Fox News Channel, weighed in, and neither show was 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 a 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 CBS News exec producer Al Ortiz will take the now-dlsclosed 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,” advised CBS News alum Terence Smith 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.” Contacted for comment, a CBS News rep told Deadline today, “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 is CBS News’ Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent based in DC. She has 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’s Fager’s memo about the decision:

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.

Jeff Fager
Chairman, CBS News
Executive Producer, 60 Minutes

Logan was set to host the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual press freedom awards tonight in New York. She is a board member of the organization. But she was replaced at the last minute by CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, Politico reports.

Here is Ortiz’s report: Read More »

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Media Critics Scoff At CBS’ Internal Investigation of Botched ‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi Report: Video

By | Monday November 18, 2013 @ 7:59am PST

You know who loves the MSNBC Puts Alec Baldwin’s New Show On Two-Week Suspension After Alleged Homophobic Rant story? CBS News, which is happy for any bright shiny light that distracts media finger-waggers from its botched 60 Minutes Benghazi report. Unfortunately, the two media-centric Sunday shows, on cable news networks CNN and Fox News Channel, weighed in anyway, though no damning new revelations or accusations came to light. Neither show was impressed with CBS’ internal review of the newsmag’s Benzhazi segment, which CBS News has said was reported out for a year. It was based on bum information given by a now discredited security contractor who’d written a now-discredited book about the incident for CBS’ publishing division. Some of Sunday’s talking heads noted CBS News exec producer Al Ortiz will be taking the results of his investigation into the failure of 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager to the chairman of CBS News — Jeff Fager. “60 Minutes needs to re-report this story and share the results with the public,” advised CBS News alum Terence Smith 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.”

Related: ’60 Minutes’ Wraps Ups With Another Apology For Botched Benghazi Report

Watch both shows: Read More »

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Stephen Colbert Gets Scoop On ‘60 Minutes’ Botched Benghazi Report From “Insider”: Video

By | Tuesday November 12, 2013 @ 10:23am PST

Like you, Stephen Colbert noticed the similarity between how the story of 60 Minutesbotched Benghazi report is playing out, and Aaron Sorkin‘s prescient second-season storyline on HBO‘s The Newsroom.

Here’s the result:

Related: CBS News’ Wraps Up Read More »

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UPDATED: CBS News’ Wraps Up ’60 Minutes’ With Another Apology For Botched Benghazi Report

By | Sunday November 10, 2013 @ 6:05pm PST

UPDATED, SUNDAY 6:05 PM: 60 Minutes ended its report tonight with CBS News’s most detailed account to date of its error in its October 27th broadcast about the attack on the American special mission compound in Benghazi. As she had on CBS This Morning on Friday, Lara Logan delivered the apology. It was Logan who had interviewed security officer Dylan Davies in that October 27th broadcast, in which he described his activities the night of the attack – an account that has now been discredited by an FBI report about the incident. As with her comments on the morning news program, and with 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager (who is also chairman of CBS News), there was no mention as to what steps CBS News will take to determine how the mistake was made, or whether any staffers will be suspended or dismissed.

Related: CBS News Admits Benghazi Attack Report Was “Wrong”: Video

Here is what Logan said:

“We end our broadcast tonight with a correction, on a story we reported October 27th about the attack on the American special mission compound in Benghazi, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. In the story, a security officer working for the State Department, Dylan Davies, told us he went to the compound during the attack, and detailed his role that night.

“After our report aired, questions arose about whether his account was true, when an incident report surfaced. It told a different story about what he did the night of the attack. Davies denied having anything to do with that incident report, and insisted the story he told us was not only accurate, it was the same story he told the FBI when they interviewed him. On Thursday night, when we discovered the account he gave the FBI was different than what he told us, we realized we had been misled, and it was a mistake to include him in our report. For that, we are very sorry. The most important thing to every person at 60 Minutes is the truth. And the truth is, we made a mistake.” Read More »

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Thunder Road Plans Benghazi Siege Pic Based On Book ‘The Embassy House’

By | Wednesday September 18, 2013 @ 12:16pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Thunder Road has acquired The Embassy House to use as the basis for a feature about the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya which resulted in the death of four that included U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The book was written by Sgt. Morgan Jones and bestselling author Damien Lewis and will be published next month in the U.S. by Simon & Schuster imprint Threshold Editions. It is expected to reignite a hot-button topic. Basil Iwanyk will produce and Kent Kubena will be exec producer. The film will be written by Taylor Sheridan, whose adaptation of Comancheria has Marc Forster attached. Thunder Road is producing Sheridan’s script Sicario, and they’ve set him to script a look at Benghazi that is one part Black Hawk Down and another Lawrence Of Arabia. The book is by the ex-British Army soldier who was in charge of the security detail at the embassy. He was also close with the late ambassador, who was viewed as a positive influence in the region and whose death outraged many Libyans. It’s as much a look at how terrorists were able to breach security after red flags were waved as it is a look at the courage of the men who venture deep into hostile territories to try and win the hearts and minds of very skeptical people. Read More »

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