In response to unprecedented Republican obstructionism, Senate Democrats have voted to change Senate rules regarding the filibustering of most presidential nominees. Media Matters looks back at the numerous conservatives who, during the Bush administration, decried filibustering and supported the tactic Democrats have now enacted.
Dan Rather has broken his silence about the controversy engulfing CBS over its retracted Benghazi report, remarking that he hopes his former employer will "be completely transparent about it and tell what happened, and why it happened."
Discussing correspondent Lara Logan's role and culpability, Rather said: "It's in the nature of these large corporations that when the stuff hits the fan, they want to blame the correspondent. Whatever happened, and if there's any blame, whatever blame there is, has to start at the top of the corporation and go through the leadership of the news division. It isn't just Lara Logan, whom I know and, you know, I support her on a personal basis through this because it's a difficult thing to go through."
He added: "I don't think this story is over. I do think there'll be a lot more. As you know, the gentleman who turned out to have lied about this took his story first to Fox News, and then Fox News took a look and I think partly because he wanted money, turned it down."
Rather, who was guesting on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, prefaced his remarks by saying that CBS is "having so much difficulty with this story, and there's so many difficult questions. I don't want to add to their difficulty."
Rather, along with several other CBS News staffers, lost their jobs in the wake of controversy over a 2004 story about President Bush's service in the Air National Guard. One of the fired staffers, former 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes, told Media Matters last week that the recent Benghazi story "was done very pointedly to appeal to a more conservative audience's beliefs about what happened at Benghazi."
CBS announced on November 13 that it is conducting a "journalistic review" of the report, but the parameters and details of that review are currently ambiguous. CBS' handling of its botched Benghazi report has drawn sharp criticism from media observers and journalists, and stands in stark contrast to its reaction to Rather's 2004 report.
From the November 14 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
60 Minutes has been the subject of intense criticism for its since-retracted report on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, including for the network's failure to disclose that the subject of its segment wrote a book for CBS' publishing arm. An examination of past 60 Minutes episodes finds two other instances this year in which the news program failed to disclose it was promoting a CBS-published book.
On October 27, 60 Minutes ran its now discredited segment featuring the story of security contractor Dylan Davies about the night of the attacks. The segment promoted Davies' book Embassy House, which was released two days after the story aired. During the segment, correspondent Lara Logan did not disclose that the book was published by CBS subsidiary Simon & Schuster. (The publisher has since pulled the book from shelves.)
Logan and Jeffrey Fager, CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer, both expressed regret to The New York Times over the lack of disclosure, with Logan calling it a "mistake" and an "oversight." Still, 60 Minutes has yet to apologize on-air for failing to note the corporate connection.
The October 27 Benghazi segment wasn't the only time that CBS failed its own oversight standard when discussing books published by affiliated companies.
Simon & Schuster has pulled The Embassy House after author "Morgan Jones" (real name Dylan Davies) was exposed as giving contradictory statements about his whereabouts on the night of the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Earlier today, 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan apologized for airing Davies' account in an October 27 report.
Threshold Editions, a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster, said in a statement from spokesperson Jennifer Robinson: "In light of information that has been brought to our attention since the initial publication of THE EMBASSY HOUSE, we have withdrawn from publication and sale all formats of this book, and are recommending that booksellers do the same. We also are notifying accounts that they may return the book to us."
Threshold Editions released The Embassy House on October 29, two days after 60 Minutes ran a segment featuring Davies and his claims about his activities on September 11, 2012. The 60 Minutes report rehashed old myths about Benghazi, including the debunked claim that there's a "lingering question" about why no U.S. military forces from outside the Libya were able to help the diplomatic facilities.
60 Minutes' report on Davies and Benghazi failed to disclose that Simon & Schuster is owned by CBS. Lara Logan later conceded to The New York Times that the program should have disclosed the financial connection.
Since the report's airing, reporters and media critics -- including Media Matters -- have raised serious questions about inconsistencies with Davies' story. Further, Media Matters chairman David Brock called on Simon & Schuster to investigate the vetting of Davies' story, halt production of his book, and reprint it as a work of fiction.
Nearly two weeks after the report aired, CBS pulled the report, apologized to viewers, and announced it would "correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night."
On October 27, CBS' flagship news program 60 Minutes aired a segment on the 2012 terror attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The report was quickly seized on by conservative media outlets and Republican lawmakers for supposedly having validated their 14 month-long quest to turn Benghazi into a Watergate-level political scandal for the Obama administration.
12 days later, 60 Minutes pulled the report, apologized to viewers, and corrected the record on-air. A month after the initial report ran, CBS News announced that following an internal review, the correspondent and producer who helmed the segment would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the program.
Here's what happened.
CBS' 60 Minutes report on the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi has received loud applause from the conservative media. Conservatives have reacted by claiming CBS News is "finally catching up" to Fox News, trying to "atone for [its] Benghazi cover-up," and showing "how much [the Obama administration] has lied and hidden facts."
The 60 Minutes report fed into the conservative myth that military assistance was denied to the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. Media Matters has noted that CBS' October 27 report claimed there's a "lingering question" about why no outside U.S. military forces came to the aid of the people under fire. Former Defense Department officials and military experts have already answered that question, explaining that assets were mobilized but could not arrive in time to help.
Here is a rundown of the conservative praise for the 60 Minutes Benghazi report:
USA Today published an op-ed from The Media Institute president Patrick Maines attacking Media Matters for purportedly engaging "in the 21st century's version of book burning" by "target[ing] advertisers on shows such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News." But the paper didn't disclose that Maines' group receives financial support from the very media companies that have a business interest in preventing such actions, including Fox News and Clear Channel, which owns Rush Limbaugh syndicator Premiere Networks.
Maines' October 16 op-ed accused Media Matters of supporting "the suppression of speech" for having targeted advertisers. He added that Media Matters "traffics in the 21st century's version of book burning" and "it's something to ponder as the country celebrates Free Speech Week this month."
Maines also criticized TruthRevolt for its boycott campaign of Al Sharpton's MSNBC program. TruthRevolt is a new organization headed by discredited activists Ben Shapiro and David Horowitz which aspires to be the conservative equivalent of Media Matters.
The op-ed simply identified Maines as: "Patrick Maines is president of The Media Institute."
Right-wing activist Ben Shapiro is defending the launch of his new media site TruthRevolt against charges of hypocrisy and unconservative tactics by arguing conservatives need to follow the "tremendously successful" example of Media Matters. Shapiro added that Media Matters has "been able to so impact the debate that you see -- you know, talk show hosts are scared."
TruthRevolt officially launched this week with the intended mission to "unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases." TruthRevolt, which is positioning itself as the "anti-Media Matters," is led by editor in chief Shapiro and David Horowitz, who both have a history of accuracy problems and anti-progressive smears.
The group is the latest to position itself as the conservative answer to Media Matters. In 2009, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said that one thing conservatives needed in order to regain power was "communications organizations that can, again, match Media Matters."
Shapiro's organization hasn't found complete acceptance within the conservative movement. Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley recently criticized the group, calling its push for a boycott of advertisers on MSNBC host Al Sharpton's program "shameful." He explained that Shapiro is emulating "Media Matters, which is a liberal organization that flags conservative P.C. violations and feeds them to the perpetually outraged liberal media. These tactics are completely antithetical to the promotion of an attractive conservative brand."
Shapiro encountered more resistance during an appearance on the October 9 edition of WMAL's Mornings on the Mall with hosts Larry O'Connor and Brian Wilson. O'Connor, who said Shapiro is a "good friend," began the interview by wondering, "You and I, we both share a loathing of the odious tactics of the left like Media Matters and Center for American Progress, trying to intimidate advertisers to get them off of shows like The Rush Limbaugh Show or, or Fox News. Why are you using those tactics?"
Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum suggested that voters are less likely to blame Republicans for the government shutdown than they did during the mid-90s shutdown because they're watching Fox News.
During an appearance on Fox News Radio, MacCallum, who co-hosts America's Newsroom, referenced comments from colleague Brit Hume to remark that during previous shutdowns, "you didn't have a lot of things." She added, "Fox News Channel was just beginning. People are very -- it's a different world in terms of what people understand about what's going on. In those days, it was much easier to pin the problems in this on the Republicans ... I'm not sure that they're going to punish the Republicans to the extent that they did last time around. I think they get it, and I think that they're very divided on it."
MacCallum's remarks from the October 9 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
MACCALLUM: I thought it was very interesting what Brit Hume said yesterday on our show, and that was that, you know, seventeen years ago, the last time we went through this, you didn't have a lot of things. You know, you didn't have -- you know, Fox News Channel was just beginning. People are very -- it's a different world in terms of what people understand about what's going on. In those days, it was much easier to pin the problems in this on the Republicans. I think that people are very tuned in to this issue and we know that. Because we know they're watching, we know they care about it, and I think that, I'm not sure that they're going to punish the Republicans to the extent that they did last time around. I think they get it, and I think that they're very divided on it.
Members of the media, especially Fox News, have undertaken a campaign of false equivalency by assigning blame to both Republicans and President Obama on the government shutdown. But congressional experts have noted that the Republicans' extreme positions have led to the current government shutdown.
Conservatives have launched TruthRevolt, a website which aims to "unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases." The history of two main TruthRevolt figures, Ben Shapiro and David Horowitz, suggests the site won't prioritize accuracy or refrain from smears.