Thursday, November 14, 2013

CBS fail

For those of us who are old enough to remember CBS News when it actually stood for integrity and truth-telling, their current debacle with their fake, sexed-up Benghazi story is especially infuriating. This is the kind of phony journalism that we've come to expect from Fox News. We had looked for something better from the network of Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, and Edward R. Murrow.

The 60 Minutes story that was presented as an eye witness account to the attack last year on our consulate in Benghazi was trumped up from beginning to end. Their "eye witness" was a liar, whose lies were easily disproved by actual journalists who bothered to check. He was never actually there on the night of the attack.  CBS now says it is undergoing a "journalistic review" of the story which started as soon as they learned there was an issue with it. The question is why was there no journalistic review before the story ran? Why was it not vetted and confirmed before it was shown to the public and offered aid and comfort to the nutcase conspiracy theorists who have been beating their drums ever since the incident?

Moreover, there are other problems with the story beyond the fake eye witness account. There's the issue of conflict of interest.

As McClatchy News laid out in their excellent dissection of the story, their eye witness, Dylan Davies, was the author of a soon-to-be-released book published by a CBS-owned publishing company that features the work of politically conservative authors. This was never mentioned in the CBS report.

There is also a question of the impartiality of the reporter who presented the story, Lara Logan. She repeatedly referred to al Qaida as being solely responsible for the attack. She made no mention of Ansar al Shariah, the Islamic extremist group that is basically in control in Benghazi and has long been suspected as being behind the attack. Logan offered no source for her assertions about al Qaida's involvement and, indeed, there seem to be no such sources. There was merely her unsupported insistence which, frankly, stinks of preconceived notions and an axe to grind.

And the list of inaccuracies and unsupported speculation goes on and on.

Last Sunday, 60 Minutes tacked on at the end of its broadcast a brief mea culpa by Lara Logan for her discredited reporting. It was essentially a statement that "mistakes were made" but it didn't begin to address the true depth of duplicity that she and 60 Minutes perpetrated on their audience.  

It will be interesting to see just where CBS's "journalistic review" takes them. Will any heads roll as a result? I doubt it because I no longer have any faith in the integrity of this organization. I count them as part of the same fetid swamp of so-called news organizations as Fox News.

If Murrow, Cronkite, and Sevareid were alive today, they would never be a part of this dishonorable group.

2 comments:

  1. Dan Rather, as I recall, was another journalist with CBS who damaged the integrity of the network with false reporting. But then I guess that little faux pas might be overlooked or forgotten because President Bush was the one who stood to lose (re-election). At least Rather had the grace to resign. Neither Fox News organization nor 60 Minutes should be thrown out with the bath water like the proverbial baby. I'm thankful that in this country we have many news options from which to choose and the right to speak up when we recognize a lie. As you pointed out with the inclusion of the McClatchy News article, it's best to get the news from several perspectives (print as well as television) and not rely on one source. Journalists are human and make mistakes just like the people in Washington. They should own up to them AND face the consequences.

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    1. Yes, they should own up and face the consequences. It will be interesting to see whether CBS does.

      As I recall, CBS apologized profusely and abjectly for the Bush story and Rather was pretty much forced to resign. I don't see anything like that happening here.

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