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.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Why were you convinced that Dylan Davies was a credible source? That the account that he provided was accurate? How did you vet him?
LARA LOGAN: We verified and confirmed that he was who he said he was. That he was working for the State Department at the time, that he was in Benghazi at the special mission compound the night of the attack. He gave us access to communications he’d had with U.S. government officials. We used U.S. government reports and congressional testimony to verify many of the details of his story, and everything checked out. He also showed us photographs that he had taken at the special mission compound the following morning. We take the vetting of sources and stories very seriously at “60 MINUTES” and we took it seriously in this case. But we were misled and we were wrong, and that’s the important thing. That’s what we have to say here. We have to set the record straight and take responsibility.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Last Thursday the Washington Post ran a report that questioned the central parts of what Davies had told you. They cited this incident report right after the attack that he gave to Blue Mountain, the security company he worked for. He told them that he never made it to the compound, that he was at his villa there. Did you know about that report, that incident report?
LARA LOGAN: No, we did not know about that incident report before we did our story. When the Washington Post story came out, he denied it, he said that he never wrote it, had nothing to do with it, and that he told the FBI the same story that he told us. But as we now know, that was not that case.
NORAH O’DONNELL: But why would you stand by this report after Dylan Davies admitted lying to his own employer?
LARA LOGAN: Because he was very upfront about that from the beginning. That was always part of his story. And, the context of it when he tells his story is that his boss is someone he cared about enormously. He cared about his American counterparts in the mission that night, and when his boss told him not to go, he couldn’t stay back. That was always part of the record for us. And that part didn’t come as any surprise.
JEFF GLOR: “60” acknowledged it was a mistake not to disclose that the book was being published by Simon & Shuster, which is a CBS company. There are also these reports now that Davies was asking for money. Did he ever ask you for money?
LARA LOGAN: He did not. He never asked us for money, it never came up.
NORAH O’DONNELL: So how do you address this moving forward? Are you going to do something on Sunday on “60 MINUTES”?
LARA LOGAN: Yes. We will apologize to our viewers, and we will correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night.
NORAH O’DONNELL: And have you been in touch with him since?
LARA LOGAN: We have not. After we learned of the latest news about the FBI report, we tried to contact him, but we have not heard back from him.
NORAH O’DONNELL: You’ve had no contact with him since then?
LARA LOGAN: Not so far.
NORAH O’DONNELL: And not about this latest news about the FBI report?
LARA LOGAN: No.
JEFF GLOR: Lara Logan, thank you very much.
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY PM: “60 Minutes has learned of new information that undercuts the account told to us by Morgan Jones of his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound,” CBS News said tonight in a statement about the security contractor who appeared in the newsmag’s Benghazi report that aired October 27. “We are currently looking into this serious matter to determine if he misled us, and if so, we will make a correction.”
The about-face comes as details of an FBI interview with Jones contradict the account he gave to 60 Minutes. Until today, CBS News has been aggressively defending the accuracy of the report that focused on an account by the man who identified himself as Jones but since has been identified as Dylan Davies. Davies, who claimed to have been at the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, when it was attacked on September 11, 2012, described for 60 Minutes the role he played during the fighting and having seen the body of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in a hospital. He claimed he confronted one of the attackers at the compound and dealt him a blow to the face with the butt of a rifle, among other details. Davies also authored a book, under the Morgan Jones pseudonym, in which he gave a consistent account; that book, The Embassy House, was published by a division of CBS Corp.
But Davies, who was in the employ of Blue Mountain security operation, which had been hired to help protect the mission in Benghazi, filed an incident report in which he said he did not go near the attacks that night and did not see the ambassador’s body in person. He gave the same information in an interview with the FBI, details of which came to light recently, The New York Times reported. Davies told The Daily Beast he had not written that incident report and said he had lied to a boss about his participation on the night because he had been ordered to stay away from the scene.
CBS News chief Jeff Fager issued a statement this week saying he was “proud of the reporting” and confident the sources used “told accurate versions of what happened that night.” Lara Logan, who interviewed Davies on 60 Minutes, said Tuesday in an interview with The New York Times that Davies only had “one story” and never signed the incident report. She suggested that the attacks on the newsmagazine’s work on the Benghazi attack were politically motivated. “We worked on this for a year,” Logan said. “We killed ourselves not to allow politics into this report.”