Begging Off A Benghazi Bungle
The ConWeb promoted the "60 Minutes" story on Benghazi. After its implosion, they try to spin the issue -- or, in the case of the Media Research Center, ignore it entirely.
By Terry Krepel
In 2004, the ConWeb was quick to pounce on a dubiously sourced document used by CBS' "60 Minutes" to raise questions about President George W. Bush's military service during the Vietnam War.
By contrast, ConWeb outlets have been much less eager to go after another dubious source "60 Minutes" used -- perhaps because they promoted that source.
In an Oct. 28 Media Research Center item, Matthew Balan touted how a segment by Lara Logan on "60 Minutes" about the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, featured "an actual eyewitness of the attack":
Logan led with her "misinformation" line, and introduced Morgan Jones, a former member of the British military, who uses that pseudonym for personal safety reasons. Jones was in charge of the unarmed security force inside the walls of the main U.S. compound in Benghazi. He revealed that he snuck inside the hospital where Ambassador Stevens had been taken, and quickly learned about diplomat's death. Jones also outlined his concerns about the armed militia guarding the facility.
Similarly, in an Oct. 31 Accuracy in Media column, Roger Aronoff highlighted the Morgan Jones interview:
The segment, which can be viewed online, interviews one “Morgan Jones,” a self-identified Blue Mountain security chief who was at an apartment 15 minutes away when the attack started at the Benghazi Special Mission Compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Newsmax touted the "60 Minutes" story as well in an Oct. 24 article by Greg Richter teasing the interview with Jones/Davies, followed by a post-show Oct. 28 article by Richter and Elliot Jager claiming that "A British security officer employed to protect U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, said he repeatedly warned higher-ups that al-Qaida seemed poised to attack."
The "60 Minutes" story was also promoted in an Oct. 29 Newsmax column by Frank Gaffney, as well as in an Oct. 28 article repeating Sen. Lindsey Graham's calling the "60 Minutes" report "a 'death blow' to the administration's initial narrative on what sparked the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens."
But the account "Morgan Jones" told on "60 Minutes" differed sharply from what he told his then-employer -- that he couldn't get anywhere near the Benghazi compound during the attack. The Washington Post reported on Oct. 31:
But in a written account that Jones, whose real name was confirmed as Dylan Davies by several officials who worked with him in Benghazi, provided to his employer three days after the attack, he told a different story of his experiences that night.
Aronoff, to his credit, did note something the MRC and Newsmax didn't: that Fox News reported that Jones demanded money to tell his story, and that Jones' book is published by Simon & Schuster, which is a division of CBS, which should raise questions about an undisclosed quid pro quo.
Still, the MRC, AIM and Newsmax remained silent about this development. The only ConWeb outlet to acknowledge the Post story was WorldNetDaily, and Aaron Klein tried to spin the story for his own agenda.
Klein defended Davies in a Nov. 5 WND article, proclaiming that "alleged attempt to discredit a Benghazi guard possibly has backfired" and claiming that the incident report Davies submitted to Blue Mountain "provided a first-person account stating the attack was a coordinated jihadist assault."
Report discredited, ConWeb spins
The "60 Minutes" story eventually fell apart completely. The New York Times reported that Davies told the same story to the FBI he told to his employer -- which contradicted what he told "60 Minutes" and stated in his book. CBS retracted the story, and Simon & Schuster pulled Davies' book from the market.
With such a major admission of error, you'd think the ConWeb would be rushing to pile on "60 Minutes," the way it did in 2004. Well, not so much.
AIM's Roger Aronoff finally acknowledged the problems in a Nov. 8 column. He criticized how "60 Minutes" and Logan"were apparently taken in by this charlatan" and "doubled down" after criticism first surfaced. But he also engaged in some damage control, insisting that "While Davies’ account may have been a lie, the administration still has much to answer for." He adds:
Maybe “60 Minutes” can re-examine the rest of the material from their hundred or so interviews they did for the segment, and come up with a hard-hitting story, that is also accurate. As Lara Logan said in the “60 Minutes Overtime” website-only feature, which has been pulled from the “60 Minutes” website: “So, we left about 98 percent of what we learned on the floordidn’t even report itbecause unless we could substantiate it with primary sources that we truly trusted and whose motivations we trusted, then we didn’t even go there.”
You mean that kangaroo court that's stacked with Obama-haters and birthers?
WND's Klein did a total flip-flop, insisting in a Nov. 10 article that Davies was never credible to begin with:
Now discredited Benghazi whistleblower Dylan Davies scored a book deal and interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” even though evidence has been out in the open for over a year that his story conflicted with claims he made in both the book and interview.
Remember, this is the same guy whose honor Klein was defending just a week earlier. Klein, however, offers no evidence that he ran that search for his last name and the word 'Benghazi.'" at any time before the "60 Minutes" retraction. If he had, shouldn't he have written about that instead instead of boasting about how the effort to discredit him "possibly has backfired"?
Then again, Klein had no motivation to do so -- he clearly didn't want Davies to be discredited.
The MRC completely ignored the "60 Minutes" implosion, except for a brief Associated Press article reprinted at CNSNews.com about Davies' book being withdrawn.
Finally, the MRC noted it in a Nov. 12 item -- but only as a passing mention.
The item by Brad Wilmouth was devoted to attacking MSNBC's Chris Hayes for having "fretted about CBS News correspondent Lara Logan being biased in favor of military action against terrorists." As an aside, Wilmouth adds: "He also theorized that her retraction for using a dishonest source 'would be a huge story' if a conservative was being criticized, as he alluded to Dan Rather's story about former President George W. Bush and the National Guard." Wilmouth didn't even identify Logan's retracted story as being about Benghazi.
What is the MRC so afraid of? That if they acknowledge the problems with the "60 Minutes" story, they would have to acknowledge problems with the right-wing narrative on Benghazi, which has been solely about trying to hang the scandal around Obama's neck? Apparently so.
Brent Bozell ranted in a May MRC press release: "If ABC, CBS, and NBC don’t thoroughly investigate and report on each and every one of these bombshell developments, and provide the American public with a true and honest account of the administration’s deadly mistakes and outright lies, they will also be guilty of deliberately censoring the news." But now that the subject is the media's own mistakes and lies in reporting Benghazi, Bozell wants no part of it.
The MRC's reluctance to get involved in this story -- even though there are few larger targets for it than "60 Minutes" -- tells us that the MRC was never about the truth and is all about ideology.