Saturday, November 16, 2013

Enough already, part 2: Benghazi

60 Minutes apparently believed in the right wing storyline about Benghazi. As a result, they produced a story that never should have aired – and they ended up with egg on their faces. CBS News is now trying to say they were misled by their source, when the reality is that they had ample opportunity to challenge the story before they aired it. But just like every other Benghazi story told by the mainstream media, Davies’ account lacked evidence. In fact, their source, Dylan Davies, was a liar who was looking for fame and fortune.

Lara Logan of 60 Minutes, CBS, claimed that their source had been properly vetted, but it is clear that they heard what they wanted to hear. They wanted a big Benghazi story that would show the President as having covered up what “really happened.” To make matters worse, CBS never disclosed that Davies’ book, Embassy House – about his supposed participation in fighting terrorists during the Benghazi attack – is being published by a subsidiary of CBS. If 60 Minutes would have done even the most basic of investigations into their source’s ethical background, they would have found a liar who has changed his story numerous times. 

All of this should have given CBS News reason for pause, but it didn’t. It is one thing to get a story wrong, but it is quite another to look the other way and air a partisan story that is full of holes from the beginning. CBS has participated in another right wing attempt to smear President Obama and Hillary Clinton. But the story has crashed and burned – and it took the credibility of 60 Minutes down with them too.

Most of us would agree that any time our diplomats are not protected from a terrorist attack; it is a failure of security measures and intelligence. But after 14 months, we should be able to look at what happened with some rationality. The attack was terrible, but Benghazi was just one of at least 157 attacks on our diplomatic facilities over a 15-year period, 9 of which resulted in U.S. fatalities, which many of you have forgotten because they were not covered hourly for 14 months on Fox News.

There have been several investigations into Benghazi by an independent panel and by congressional committees, none of which have found a scandal or a cover-up. Yet the attack on Benghazi has been politicized by Republicans eager for a second-term Obama scandal or to embarrass Hillary Clinton – and by Fox News to pump up their ratings. 

Apparently the media does not want to believe that there is no administrative cover-up regarding Benghazi. Several times, the mainstream media, eager to show its ‘toughness’ on Obama (and there are so many opportunities to do exactly that, from drones and illegal spying to the botched Obamacare website), have fallen flat on their face. It started with a false story by ABC's Jon Karl, but now "60 Minutes" has been duped to a new low in Benghazi coverage:

NEW YORK -- Security officer Dylan Davies admitted this weekend that he lied to a superior in September 2012 about his whereabouts the night of the Benghazi attack. But Davies says his latest version of events, told on CBS' "60 Minutes" and in a new memoir, are true.

“I am just a little man against some big people here,” Davies told The Daily Beast in an interview published Saturday, suggesting he was the victim of a smear campaign.

Davies’ account of the night four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in a terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi has been challenged since he appeared Oct. 27 on “60 Minutes,” in an interview CBS billed as “the first eyewitness account from a westerner” on the ground that night.

The Washington Post revealed that Davies once provided a different account of the events. The Post reported that Davies previously claimed to have never reached the compound on the night of the attack, saying he only arrived the day after. But in the version he relayed on “60 Minutes,” as well as in a new memoir published under a pseudonym, Davies arrives at the compound as the battle rages on and tangles with a terrorist.

Davies landed a coveted "60 Minutes" interview to promote his book, Embassy House, published by Simon & Shuster, a business partner of CBS under the Viacom umbrella. But other journalists had serious problems with his story. Fox News Channel, believe it or not, had problems with reporting on Davies when he started asking for money, which is a huge no-no.

The real problem here is one that we have seen time and time again. In trying to show that it was "fair and balanced" and could report a story on an issue being pushed by conservatives, CBS twisted things to where it was completely unfair and unbalanced, abandoning the basic journalistic tenet of following the truth, no matter how inconvenient. 

CBS News deserves credit for one thing. Unlike when ABC News pushed a false story on Benghazi that made the President look bad, CBS apologized and retracted their story. The nation is still waiting for Jon Karl and ABC to apologize and retract their story about the Benghazi emails.  When "60 Minutes" got it wrong nine years ago on the details of George W. Bush leaving the Texas Air National Guard, people lost their jobs, including Dan Rather. And, in just the same way, heads need to roll at "60 Minutes" for its completely false Benghazi report – especially since it stirred up another round of Benghazi hearings by the GOP this week so that many Teapublicans could quote the lies from the CBS report.

Damn. Enough already. 

The right wing needs to quit with the false Benghazi stuff. Sadly, Benghazi is one of many embassy attacks through the decades in which Americans lost their lives. (One of the worst was the Lebanon attack during the Reagan years.) The President and Hillary Clinton did what they were supposed to do – which was to call in reinforcements.  But those reinforcements did not get there in time. 
Give it up, Righties. There is no smoking gun.