Republicans And Right-Wing Media Championed Discredited 60 Minutes Benghazi Report
Research ››› ››› MATT GERTZ & ELLIE SANDMEYER
Republican and conservative media figures lauded a report from CBS' 60 Minutes on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, using it to advance their attacks on the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. But that report has since come under fire following the revelation that the piece's key Benghazi "eyewitness" had previously claimed he was nowhere near the compound on the night of the attack.
60 Minutes Report Exposed: Dubious Claims And A "Witness" With No Credibility
Wash. Post: Key "Witness" In 60 Minutes Report Previously Said He "Could Not Get Anywhere Near" The Compound That Night. The Washington Post reported:
In an explosive report on CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday, the British supervisor of local security guards protecting the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, provided a harrowing account of the extremist attack that killed four Americans.
The man whom CBS called Morgan Jones, a pseudonym, described racing to the Benghazi compound while the attack was underway, scaling a 12-foot wall and downing an extremist with the butt end of a rifle as he tried in vain to rescue the besieged Americans.
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.
In Davies's 21 / 2-page incident report to Blue Mountain, the Britain-based contractor hired by the State Department to handle perimeter security at the compound, he wrote that he spent most of that night at his Benghazi beach-side villa. Although he attempted to get to the compound, he wrote in the report, "we could not get anywhere near . . . as roadblocks had been set up." [Washington Post, 10/31/13]
Daily Beast: Witness Says He Was Actually Lying When He Said He Didn't Get To The Compound. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Dylan Davies accused critics of conducting "a coordinated campaign to smear him" while simultaneously admitting to falsifying the account referenced in his incident report of the Benghazi attacks. Davies explained that he had lied to his supervisor at the security contracting company Blue Mountain Group "because he did not want his supervisor to know he had disobeyed his orders":
Davies said the version of the events contained in the incident report matched what he told his supervisor, called "Robert" in his book, who is a top Blue Mountain Group executive. Davies said he lied to Robert about his actions that night because he did not want his supervisor to know he had disobeyed his orders to stay at his villa.
The Daily Beast has redacted the true name of Robert out of his concern for his privacy.
"He told me under no circumstances was I to go up there. I respected him so much I did not want him to know that I had not listened to him," said Davies, referring to Robert. "I have not seen him since."
Davies also wrote in his book that Robert had instructed him not to go to the compound under any circumstances. Davies called Robert after going to the hospital, he said, but before his first visit to the compound on the night of Sept. 11. Davies says he told Robert the ambassador was dead but did not tell him what he was up to.
Executives at Blue Mountain Group, including Robert, did not respond to emails requesting comment. [The Daily Beast, 11/2/13, via Media Matters]
Fox News: We Stopped Talking To CBS' Benghazi "Witness" When He Asked Us For Money. Fox News correspondent Adam Houghley said that the 60 Minutes "witness" "spoke to me on the phone a number of times and then we stopped speaking to him when he asked for money." Davies later denied this report. [Fox News, Happening Now, 10/28/13, via Media Matters; The Daily Beast, 11/2/13, via Media Matters]
60 Minutes Pretended There Is A "Lingering Question" About Benghazi Reinforcements. During the October 27 CBS segment, correspondent Lara Logan claimed there is a "lingering question ... why no larger military response ever crossed the border into Libya." In fact, several special operations teams were deployed in response to the attack, but due to logistical difficulties none reached Libya until long after the attack had concluded. [Media Matters, 10/28/13]
Report Pushed Debunked Claim That CIA Response Team Received "Orders To Wait." In the 60 Minutes report, Logan claimed that a response team from the CIA annex facility that wanted to go to the aid of Americans at the main compound received "orders to wait." But months ago, that claim was denied by the CIA and debunked by the State Department's independent review of the assault -- facts that went unmentioned during the CBS segment. [Media Matters, 11/2/13]
Republicans And Right-Wing Advocacy Groups Lauded CBS Report
Republican National Committee: "CBS Exposes Latest Benghazi Blunders." In an October 28 research item, "CBS Exposes Latest Benghazi Blunders," the Republican National Committee claimed that the CBS coverage attempted to debunk statements from administration officials about security at the U.S. facilities in Benghazi and intelligence leading up to the attack by citing the 60 Minutes report:
But Officials In Benghazi Warned Washington Of Terrorist Threats In Benghazi And Repeatedly Requested Additional Security
Security Official Lieutenant Colonel Andy Wood Warned Both The State And Defense Departments About Benghazi Terrorism Threats Before The Attack. LARA LOGAN: "The last time he went to Benghazi was in June, just three months before the attack. While he was there, al Qaeda tried to assassinate the British ambassador. Wood says, to him, it came as no surprise because al Qaeda -- using a familiar tactic -- had stated their intent in an online posting, saying they would attack the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans in Benghazi." LARA LOGAN: "And you watched as they-" ANDY WOOD: "As they did each one of those." LARA LOGAN: "-attacked the Red Cross and the British mission. And the only ones left-"ANDY WOOD: "Were us. They made good on two out of the three promises. It was a matter of time till they captured the third one." LARA LOGAN: "And Washington was aware of that?" ANDY WOOD: "They knew we monitored it. We included that in our reports to both State Department and DOD." (CBS' "60 Minutes ," 10/27/13)
CBS Revealed The U.S. Already Knew That Senior Al Qaeda Leader Abu Anas Al-Libi Was In Libya, Tasked To Establish A Terrorist Network. LOGAN: "We have learned the U.S. already knew that this man, senior al Qaeda leader Abu Anas al-Libi was in Libya, tasked by the head of al Qaeda to establish a clandestine terrorist network inside the country. Al-Libi was already wanted for his role in bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa." GREG HICKS: "It was a frightening piece of information." LARA LOGAN: "Because it meant what?" GREG HICKS: "It raised the stakes, changed the game." (CBS' " 60 Minutes," 10/27/13)
Former Deputy Chief Of Mission Greg Hicks: We Repeatedly Requested Extra Security. LARA LOGAN: "And in that environment you were asking for more security assets and you were not getting them?" GREG HICKS: "That's right." LARA LOGAN: "Did you fight that?" GREG HICKS: "I was in the process of trying to frame a third request but it was not allowed to go forward." LARA LOGAN: "So why didn't you get the help that you needed and that you asked for?" GREG HICKS: "I really, really don't know. I in fact would like to know that, the answer to that question." (CBS' "60 Minutes," 10/27/13) [GOP.com, 10/28/13]
Sen. Lindsey Graham: 60 Minutes' Reporting Shows Administration's Story "Doesn't Have An Ounce Of Truth In It." On the October 29 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) cited the 60 Minutes report to claim that "the story told by the administration about what happened in Benghazi doesn't have an ounce of truth in it":
GRAHAM: Yes. Why? Why? Because I just think we can't live in a country where when something bad happens, when there's a national security failure, and the "60 Minutes" piece and Erin Burnett, the media has done you know, a pretty good job basically of explaining to the fact, to the American people that the story told by the administration about what happened in Benghazi doesn't have an ounce of truth in it.
GRAHAM: Well, I don't have subpoena power in the minority. All I can do is have what leverage I have. The only question President Obama has ever answered was when we threatened to put Brennan on hold is the CIA chief. I don't like doing this. It's not in my nature.
But 14 months into this, after the sixth amendment story, how can I, in good science, go back to South Carolina and talk to the families and tell them you've been told all there is to know about Benghazi when we never been able to talk to the people who lived through the attack itself?
How can I explain the people in my home state, and throughout the country, that the story they told us about Benghazi holds water after the "60 Minutes" story? [CNN, The Situation Room, 10/29/13]
Rep. Jason Chaffetz: "Please Watch These 13 Clips From @60Minutes." Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) pushed 60 Minutes' reporting to his Twitter followers:
Rep. Frank Wolf: CBS Report Demonstrates Need For Special Committee On Benghazi. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) cited 60 Minutes' reporting in an October 30 speech in which he claimed that "Americans from across the political spectrum recognize that not only are they not being told the truth [about Benghazi]" and called for a special congressional committee to investigate the attack. A press release about his statements referred to the 60 Minutes report as one of the "recent developments" that demonstrate the need for further investigation:
Further, Wolf described a 60 Minutes piece that aired this past Sunday in which CBS' sources confirmed what Wolf had detailed on the House floor this past July: "a quick reaction force from the CIA Annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at time running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there." Alarmingly, the piece also included information saying that when the terrorists stormed the consulate property, they said "We're here to kill Americans, not Libyans" and spared the lives of the Libyan guards, Wolf said.
CBS' Lara Logan also addressed the pressure on witnesses she encountered during the 60 Minutes investigation, saying "An extraordinary amount of pressure on anyone in the government - the military side, the political side - not to say anything outside of official channels."
"This is consistence with the concerns I have repeatedly raised on the House floor about efforts by this administration to silence survivors and witnesses to the Benghazi attack and response," Wolf said. "What are they afraid of these witnesses sharing with the American people? And how can the Congress stand by and allow this to happen, knowing full well it is taking place?" [Wolf.House.gov, 10/30/13]
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) Promoted 60 Minutes Report On Twitter. From Twitter:
America Rising PAC Cited 60 Minutes Report To Attack Hillary Clinton With Stand Down Narrative. The anti-Hillary Clinton conservative research group America Rising PAC used the 60 Minutes report to launch a petition designed to tar Clinton in advance of the 2016 election:
This Week, 60 Minutes reported that those on the ground knew that Al Qaeda was likely planning an attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi , but multiple requests for additional security were denied. Sign the petition and tell Hillary Clinton to take responsibility for this failure! [America Rising PAC, accessed 11/2/13]
The Heritage Foundation: "CBS Renewed Interest In A Calamity That The Obama Administration Had Hoped Would Be Long Forgotten." An October 31 report on The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog highlighted 60 Minutes' reporting as "one of the few eyewitness accounts to the attack on the record," hyping the fact that it had generated "renewed interest" in the "calamity." The blog urged media figures to take 60 Minutes claims further and look into "assigning blame":
The 60 Minutes segment stops short of assigning blame for the Obama Administration's failure to provide adequate security or military support for the Americans in Benghazi. An investigative piece on the Washington angle of the story, which has been far from fully told, is a much-needed follow-up. [The Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, 10/31/13]
Right-Wing Media Heavily Promoted Report, Claimed It Showed Mainstream Media "Finally Catching Up"
Drudge: 60 Minutes Reports "Benghazi Was Planned, Sophisticated Attack." The Drudge Report promoted 60 Minutes' coverage in an October 27 tweet:
Fox News' Monica Crowley Encourages 60 Minutes Follow-Up That Would Include More Right-Wing Myths. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley tweeted her approval of the 60 Minutes report and responded to a tweet offering suggestions of debunked right-wing myths that CBS could include in any follow-up reporting:
Fox News' Dana Perino: 60 Minutes Feature On Benghazi Was "Chilling." On October 27, Fox News host Dana Perino tweeted:
Fox News Host Greta Van Susteren Promoted 60 Minutes Report In Series Of Tweets And Blog Posts. On Twitter, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren posted a series of tweets hyping 60 Minutes' coverage:
Van Susteren posted a transcript of the report on her blog, Gretawire, and promoted a blog post headlined, "Chances are if you saw Sixty Minutes tonight about Benghazi, you are furious....am I right?" which pushed conservative talking points about Benghazi:
Why the lies? Why the absurd video story? And why do we still not have all the facts? Why do some try to block the full investigation and cry partisanship? All I want is the full story since an incomplete story only makes me suspicious. Of course no one wanted our fellow Americans to die and everyone feels awful... but that should not be a reason not to tell exactly what happened and why. Benghazi will never go away until the air is cleared and all the facts come out. [Twitter.com, 10/27/13, 10/27/13, 10/28/13; Gretawire, 10/27/13]
Hot Air: 60 Minutes Report "Should Serve As A Springboard." In an October 28 blog post, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey claimed that the 60 Minutes feature included "damning" revelations, and cited long-debunked Benghazi myths to suggest that the report "should serve as a springboard for a demand for more answers from the White House, and also from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton." [Hot Air, 10/28/13]
The Blaze Hosted Video Of Complete 60 Minutes Segment. The Blaze promoted 60 Minutes' coverage in a October 27 blog post that included a video of the full 15-minute segment. [The Blaze, 10/27/13]
Fox Nation Reposted Video Of 60 Minutes Segment, Hyped "First Western Eyewitness." Fox Nation hyped Davies as the "first Western eyewitness to the deadly Benghazi terror attacks," using the 60 Minutes segment as an opportunity to rehash past Fox News reporting on the attack:
Susan Rice, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and other administration officials said in the days following the attacks that they appeared to have been sparked by an anti-Islamic video posted onto the Internet.
The guard also told CBS that he considered the security forces hired to protect the U.S. interests in Benghazi lax and suggested the attack appeared inevitable.
Fox News has previously reported that an Aug. 16, 2012, cable revealed that an "emergency meeting" was convened less than a month before the assault to warn that the consulate could not defend against a coordinated attack. Congressional hearings held over the past year have also covered how security was a concern in the run-up to the attack.
And Fox News reported last week that, according to a source on the ground in Libya, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee with Al Qaeda ties -- Sufian bin Qumu -- was in Benghazi the night of the attack. Fox News also reported that two other suspects have ties to the Al Qaeda senior leadership -- one believed to be a former courier and the other, a bodyguard for the network. [Fox Nation, 10/28/13]
Fox News' Steve Doocy: "Finally Catching Up." Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said on October 28, "It's great that mainstream media finally catching up. CBS did this story on Benghazi and I see criticism from the left where they go, 'You guys are covering a phony scandal.' 60 Minutes doesn't cover phony scandals." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/28/13, via Media Matters]
Fox News' Martha MacCallum Praises 60 Minutes For Focusing On Benghazi Like Fox News. America's Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum said: "Now 60 Minutes, the venerable news program, Sunday night news program, is putting a lot of focus on this story ... Here at Fox News we've been covering this story for a very long time. At times we've been criticized for continuing to cover this story. Leslie [Marshall], now it continues to be a broader issue and another very strong news network also wants some answers here." [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 10/28/13, via Media Matters]
The 700 Club's Pat Robertson: "It's All Over." The 700 Club's Pat Robertson compared the 60 Minutes report to President Lyndon B. Johnson's remark that if he lost the regard of newsman Walter Cronkite on Vietnam, he'd lost Middle America. Robertson said: "Obama, I believe, is starting to lose the media. When 60 Minutes goes against him, when Saturday Night Live goes against him, when all these people begin to make fun of him, it's all over." [CBN, The 700 Club, 10/28/13]
Breitbart.com: "CBS, '60 Minutes' Try To Atone For Benghazi Cover-Up." Breitbart.com promoted the 60 Minutes piece with the headline, "CBS, '60 Minutes' Try To Atone For Benghazi Cover-Up." Editor Joel B. Pollak wrote in his post: "60 Minutes featured an investigative report on the Benghazi attacks by Lara Logan. Logan's reporting confirmed that the Obama administration had been warned, months in advance, about inadequate security at the U.S. facility in Benghazi, and that it knew the story about a YouTube video was untrue. It was a reversal for CBS News, which played a key role in the Benghazi cover-up in 2012." [Breitbart.com, 10/28/13]
Power Line: "Democratic Partly News Outlet" Turns On Obama With 60 Minutes Report. John Hinderaker at the conservative blog Power Line wrote: "60 Minutes is normally a reliable Democratic Party news outlet, but tonight it turned its back on its friends in the Obama administration with a scathing report on the Benghazi scandal." [Power Line, 10/27/13]
Human Events: "60 Minutes: Yes, America, The Obama Administration Lied To You About Benghazi." Human Events staff writer John Hayward wrote: "'60 Minutes' ran a report on the Benghazi scandal Sunday night that confirmed its status as an enduring scandal with many questions still remaining to be answered. Good thing the media was willing to cover for Barack Obama until he got re-elected, because this is some really damning stuff." [Human Events, 10/28/13]
Blogger Pam Geller: "Media Is Talking Straight About Benghazi." Birther and right-wing extremist Pam Geller promoted the 60 Minutes report on her site and wrote: "Over a year after the murderous attack, finally, media is talking straight about Benghazi." [Atlas Shrugs, 10/27/13]
Blogger Jim Hoft: "'60 Minutes' Finally Reveals Benghazi Was A Real Scandal & You Were Lied To." In a blog post headlined "'60 Minutes' Finally Reveals Benghazi Was a Real Scandal & You Were Lied To," Jim Hoft wrote: "On Sunday "60 Minutes" finally revealed that the Benghazi massacre was a real scandal, plotted by Al-Qaeda linked terrorists and that you were lied to by the Obama administration." [Gateway Pundit, 10/27/13]
Fox News' Jonah Goldberg: 60 Minutes "Corroborates Pretty Much Everything #FoxNews Has Reported." Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg tweeted:
MRC's Dan Gainor: 60 Minutes "Shows How Much Admin Has Lied." Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor tweeted:
NRO's Jim Geraghty: "You Must, Must, Must Watch This 60 Minutes Report." National Review writer Jim Geraghty tweeted:
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