CBS News has named veteran Bill Whitaker a 60 Minutes correspondent, it was announced today by Jeff Fager, the executive producer of the newsmag and the chairman of CBS News. Whitaker, who has been based in Los Angeles, will move to the New York area and begin appearing in the fall on the CBS newsmagazine, which is America’s most-watched news program. The newsmag got nicked in its reputation when Lara Logan took a leave in the wake of the program’s since-discredited story on the Benghazi attacks.
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:
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
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:
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.
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.”
UPDATE, 6:20 AM: “We were wrong,” 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan said on CBS This Morning about the newsmagazine’s report on the Benghazi attack in 2012 that was based on an interview with Dylan Davies, who had worked for the State Department in Libya. “We apologize to our viewers,” she added. The apology comes at the end of a week in which press reports called into question the truth of Davies’ claims in the interview — and a book, published by CBS. That includes new details of an interview Davies did with the FBI after the attack, of which Logan said CBS News was aware but had not seen when it broadcast its segment. Logan said Davies had insisted the FBI interview would corroborate his interview with the newsmag; this week CBS News learned it did not, Logan said. Taking a page from the Crisis Management Handbook, reps for the news division advised reporters the brouhaha was politically motivated earlier in the week. Then, late last night, CBS News issued a statement that it was looking into the new information. The admission of error and apology came 12 hours after that. “We were misled,” Logan told Norah O’Donnell and Jeff Glor. 60 Minutes will apologize on-air this Sunday and set the record straight, she said. Between now and then expect much media ruminating about that other botched 60 Minutes report, on George W. Bush’s National Guard service, helmed by Dan Rather in 2004, and whether this new embarrassment will cost anyone at the news division their jobs.
Here’s the video, followed by the transcript:
Here’s the transcript:
NORAH O’DONNELL: “60 MINUTES” has learned of new information that undercuts its October 27th account of an ex-security officer who called himself Morgan Jones. His real name is Dylan Davies, and he recounted to Lara Logan, in great detail, what he claimed were his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound. Lara joins us this morning. Lara, good morning. What can you tell us?
LARA LOGAN: The most important thing to every person at “60 MINUTES” is the truth, and today the truth is that we made a mistake. That’s very disappointing for any journalist. It’s very disappointing for me. Nobody likes to admit that they made a mistake, but if you do, you have to stand up and take responsibility and you have to say that you were wrong. And in this case, we were wrong. We made a mistake. And how did this happen? Well, Dylan Davies worked for the State Department in Libya, was the manager of the local guard force at the Benghazi Special Mission compound. He described for us his actions the night of the attack, saying he had entered the compound and had a confrontation with one of the attackers, and that he had seen the body of Ambassador Chris Stevens in a local hospital. And after our report aired, questions were raised about whether his account was real, after an incident report surfaced that told a different story about what he’d done that night. He denied that report and said that he told the FBI the same story he told us. But what we now know is that he told the FBI a different story from what he told us. That’s when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source, and that we were wrong to put him on air, and we apologize to our viewers.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Three days after being announced as a new co-host on CBS This Morning, former CBS News chief White House correspondent Norah O’Donnell joined her fellow hosts Charlie Rose and Gayle King along with her CBS News bosses on a TCA panel to promote the news division. O’Donnell replaces Erica Hill. It was made clear that the timing of the shakeup isn’t coincidental and comes as the Presidential election enters the homestretch. “It really is about Norah and her abilities,” said CBS News chairman Jeff Fager. “We just feel like in terms of where we’re going, and with Norah’s experience in reporting and where we’re going with our broadcast, that she’s just such a perfect fit. Especially going into the election, coming right out of the White House, she just adds so much. And Erica’s been a great pro for us. She helped launch this program. We hope she stays. We just think this is a better fit.” For her part, O’Donnell said that she was “thrilled” to be on the broadcast. “It’s an exciting time,” she added. “Two hours of live television. There’s nothing else like it. I think we’re now 100 days out from the election so we’ve got two conventions coming up, three Presidential debates, one Vice Presidential debate, so I’m excited to join them on politics and do what I do best. Also some new stuff. I made the decision this week.”
Nancy Lane has been named Executive Producer of CBSNews.com, it was announced today by David Rhodes, President, CBS News, and Mark Larkin, Senior Vice President and General Manager of CBS Interactive. In this role, Lane will oversee all editorial for CBS News’ digital properties, social media and mobile apps. Her appointment is effective immediately.
“Nancy’s long experience managing a global news organization will help us deliver original reporting from CBS News across all digital media,” said Rhodes. “Early in our discussions about this role, Jeff Fager and I became convinced that Nancy shared our editorial values and could be a tremendous asset in this growing area.” Fager is the Chairman of CBS News and Executive Producer of 60 MINUTES.
Wynton Marsalis, internationally acclaimed musician, composer and educator, has been named Cultural Correspondent for CBS. It was announced today by CBS News Chairman and 60 MINUTES Executive Producer Jeff Fager and David Rhodes, President, CBS News. In this role, Marsalis will provide insight into a broad range of cultural and educational developments on CBS THIS MORNING and CBS SUNDAY MORNING. His first CBS News appearance will be on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, as the nation observes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.
John Miller has been named a Senior Correspondent for CBS News, it was announced today by Jeff Fager, Chairman, CBS News and Executive Producer, 60 MINUTES and David Rhodes, President, CBS News. Miller will have a major role in the mornings on CBS News. He will report for all CBS News platforms and broadcasts, including occasionally for 60 MINUTES.