Addressing the falling standards at CBS News and its hallmark Sunday night news magazine program, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hilzik recently lamented how 60 Minutes "used to stand for rigorous, honest reporting. What's happened to it?" Hiltzik accused 60 Minutes of practicing a "ghastly" brand of journalism.
Hiltzik has hardly been alone been expressing his amazement at CBS's dubious performance. What's key about his observation was that it came in early October, three weeks before CBS became enmeshed in the humiliating Benghazi controversy, in which the network was forced to retract a badly flawed report that featured a bogus "eyewitness."
So why in early October, prior to the Benghazi fiasco, was Hiltzik bemoaning the appalling journalism sponsored by 60 Minutes? The columnist took aim at an October 6, scare report the CBS program aired, alleging widespread fraud within the Social Security disability program. ("A secret welfare system.") Told from the perspective of a crusading Republican lawmaker, Media Matters noted at the time the CBS report relied almost entirely on anecdotal evidence to dishonestly portray the social welfare program as wasteful, despite the fact that award rates fell during the recession and that fraud is less than one percent of the program.
After watching the report, Hiltzik denounced CBS correspondent Steve Kroft's "rank ignorance about the disability program: how it works, who the beneficiaries are, why it has grown." The columnist was hardly alone in expressing his amazement at CBS's deficiencies. Kroft's one-sided, badly flawed report sparked widespread criticism.
But the disability and Benghazi debacles have hardly been isolated incidents. CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson this week aired a Republican-sponsored attack piece on the supposed security lapses of Healthcare.gov based entirely on a partial transcript leaked by President Obama's most partisan, and untrustworthy, critics on Capitol Hill. (Upon closer review, Attkisson's erroneous report completely fell apart.)
And during the roll-out of Obamacare when lots of news outlets were badly misreporting about the implications of insurance companies sending out health care plan cancellation notices, CBS News' Jan Crawford produced perhaps the most misleading and factually challenged report of them all; a report that came to symbolize the mainstream media botching the health care coverage with misleading scare coverage.
Viewed as a whole, it seems something is unraveling inside CBS News, as it now produces gotcha reports that are quickly proven to be flat-out wrong; reports that appear to be built around attempts to obfuscate the truth. And yes, in all these instances the target is the Democratic administration and those cheering the loudest are President Obama's most dedicated critics.
In the disability, health care and Benghazi cases, CBS aired four outrageously misleading and factually inaccurate reports. And CBS did all of that in the window of just six weeks. I'm hard pressed to point to the same number of ABC or NBC reports that have aired in the last 12 months that were as egregious as the CBS foursome.
McClatchy News has offered a damning critique of 60 Minutes' now-retracted story on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, pointing out that several aspects of the story feature minimal sourcing and contradict the statements of experts.
The report comes as CBS News discloses that a "journalistic review" of the heavily criticized October 27 segment, which featured a since-discredited "witness" and promoted his book on the attacks without disclosing that the book was published by a CBS division. CBS has declined to explain who is conducting that review, how it is being conducted, and whether its findings will be public.
During the segment, correspondent Lara Logan made a number of claims about the attack and its perpetrators, often sourced only with the statement "[w]e have learned" or with nothing at all. McClatchy News Middle East Bureau Chief Nancy Youssef's reporting suggests that these claims were also inaccurate. Given that the report's sources included a man whose account CBS News has already acknowledged was fraudulent, it's fair to question the sourcing of other claims in the report.
A full, complete, and independent investigation of the segment could provide answers to these and other questions about CBS News' reporting.
"Other weaknesses" identified in Youssef's "line-by-line review" include:
The Role Of Al Qaida
The report repeatedly referred to al Qaida as solely responsible for the attack on the compound, and made no mention of Ansar al Shariah, the Islamic extremist group that controls and provides much of the security in restive Benghazi and that has long been suspected in the attack. While the two organizations have worked together in Libya, experts said they have different aims - al Qaida has global objectives while Ansar al Shariah is focused on turning Libya into an Islamic state.
It is an important distinction, experts on those groups said. Additionally, al Qaida's role, if any, in the attack has not been determined, and Logan's narration offered no source for her repeated assertion that it had been...
Logan claimed that "it's now well established that the Americans were attacked by al Qaida in a well-planned assault." But al Qaida has never claimed responsibility for the attack, and the FBI, which is leading the U.S. investigation, has never named al Qaida as the sole perpetrator. Rather it is believed a number of groups were part of the assault, including members and supporters of al Qaida and Ansar al Shariah as well as attackers angered by a video made by an American that insulted Prophet Muhammad. The video spurred angry protests outside Cairo hours beforehand.
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.
CBS News says it is conducting a "journalistic review" of its flawed, retracted report on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks. The parameters of that review will demonstrate whether the network is truly interested in determining how 60 Minutes broadcast such a flawed report.
Journalism veterans and media observers have savaged the network in recent days for showing little interest in publicly coming to grips with the key questions surrounding their October 27 story. Instead the network has offered an inadequate "correction" of their report, which featured Dylan Davies, a purported "witness" to the attacks who the network knew had told two contradictory accounts of what he did that night.
Earlier today, McClatchy's Nancy Youssef reported that a CBS spokesman had told her the network is conducting a "journalistic review" into the retracted story. A network spokesman subsequently told Media Matters, "The moment we confirmed there was an issue in our story we began a journalistic review that is ongoing." The spokesman declined to discuss who is conducting the review or offer any other details.
Media Matters founder David Brock, who was first to call for an independent investigation of the segment, issued this statement in response to the news:
I'm glad to see CBS take this step. An ongoing review means the network acknowledges that a serious journalistic transgression occurred. As I said in my original letter to CBS, it should be an objective, thorough review and the results should be made public.
CBS News first acknowledged that they no longer had full confidence in Davies' story on November 7. But the network has since denied that a review is underway, with The New York Times reporting after correspondent Lara Logan issued an on-air apology for the report that CBS News chairman and "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager "has not ordered an investigation," and that a spokesman "indicated that the program was going to let its televised apology be its last word on the issue."
But if CBS is conducting a review of the segment, three questions are of paramount importance: Who will be conducting the review? How much access will the reviewers have to the key decision makers? And will the results of the investigation be made public?
Journalism veterans and media observers continue to strike the same chord while launching a chorus of criticism at CBS News in recent days: The network needs to be transparent and explain exactly what happened with its botched Benghazi report, and start detailing how such an obviously flawed report made in onto the most-watched news program in America.
And yet it's silence from CBS, which is now stonewalling press inquiries, as well as the calls for an outside review of its Benghazi reporting. CBS' refusal to undergo a public examination in the wake of such a landmark blunder stands in stark contrast to how news organizations have previously dealt with black eyes; news organizations that once included CBS News.
CBS is now taking a radically different approach. There appears to have been a corporate decision made that granting members of an independent review panel unfettered access to 60 Minutes represents a greater danger than the deep damage currently being done to the network's brand via the two-week-old scandal.
So again and again the question bounces back to this: What is CBS hiding? And who is CBS protecting?
I'm sure network executives there are embarrassed by the controversy and wish the report hadn't aired as it did. There's a reason Jeff Fager, Chairman of CBS News (above left), ranked it as among the worst mistakes in the nearly 50 year history of 60 Minutes. But as we learn more and more about the errors and oversights, it's becoming increasingly difficult to understand the magnitude of the malfeasance; the refusal by CBS to follow even rudimentary rules of journalism.
In a small but telling example, Mother Jones recently reviewed the Benghazi book that CBS' discredited "witness," Dylan Davies, co-wrote, and which CBS supposedly relied on to corroborate this tale, which included him informing the FBI about his heroic actions the night of the attack at the U.S. compound in Benghazi. (It was later confirmed Davies wasn't even at the compound and the book was quickly recalled.) Mother Jones found Davies' published account to be completely, and almost comically, unbelievable:
60 Minutes still hasn't told its viewers that its since-retracted report on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks promoted a book that was published by a CBS subsidiary -- a conflict of interest the network acknowledged was a mistake a week ago.
Media commentators have been raining criticism on CBS News in response to 60 Minutes' tepid, incomplete apology for their retracted report on Benghazi. Those critics have pointed out that the 90-second apology failed to explain how the segment made it to air given the serious questions about the credibility of its star "witness" Dylan Davies, and have lambasted the network for failing to announce an investigation into the handling of the story.
But even before CBS News finally acknowledged the problems with Davies story, the network conceded it had made a mistake in failing to tell the viewers of the October 27 story that Davies' book, which the segment promoted, was published by Simon & Schuster, which is a division of CBS.
On November 5, The New York Times reported:
CBS said that Jeffrey Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of "60 Minutes," said on Tuesday that he regretted not making the connection between Mr. Davies and CBS public.
[CBS correspondent Lara] Logan said, "Honestly, it never factored into the story. It was a mistake; we should have done it, precisely because there's nothing to hide. It was an oversight."
That "oversight" was not corrected during 60 Minutes' brief November 10 apology, which discussed only the failure to properly vet Davies' story, not the conflict of interest.
Likewise, when CBS Evening News covered the story on November 8, anchor Scott Pelley said that Davies had written a book that had been published by a CBS division, but did not note that that information had not been mentioned during the original 60 Minutes segment.
CBS has only acknowledged this problem on air during a November 8 segment on CBS' This Morning, when anchor Jeff Glor reported that "60 [Minutes] has already acknowledged it was a mistake not to disclose that the book was being published by Simon & Schuster, which is a CBS company."
Notably, This Morning typically has an audience of 2.5 to 3 million viewers. 60 Minutes, by contrast, is the most-watched news program in America; the October 27 broadcast was seen by almost 11 million people, while the November 10 edition was watched by more than 15 million.
One of the curious sub-plots to the ongoing drama of 60 Minutes and its since-retracted October 27 Benghazi report is the extent to which Dylan Davies, CBS News' discredited Benghazi "witness," informed Fox News' reporting. The day after the 60 Minutes report aired, Fox News' Adam Housley disclosed on-air that "some of our reports for FoxNews.com last fall included this 60 Minutes witness' account," but added that he stopped talking to Davies "when he asked for money." Even still, Housley said at the time that Davies' story on 60 Minutes "reaffirms, really, what we've been reporting." After CBS retracted their story, Fox News vice president Michael Clemente stated unequivocally: "We stand by our reporting on Benghazi."
This is an awkward situation for Fox: they cited a "witness" whose credibility has since been trashed, and they had suspicions about his credibility before it was publicly destroyed, but they're nonetheless defending every scrap of their Benghazi reporting, including the pieces that cited Davies. So which Fox News articles featured the now-discredited British security contractor as a source? That's tough to nail down, as Fox News never cited Davies by name. But there are a couple of FoxNews.com reports from late 2012 that cite British sources to make claims that are incorrect or unsupported by other accounts of the attacks.
On November 3, 2012, Housley published an "exclusive" for FoxNews.com challenging the CIA's timeline of Benghazi attacks and claiming that "security officials on the ground say calls for help went out" before the attack on the diplomatic compound actually started at 9:30 p.m., Libya time. Housley's report cited "multiple people on the ground" who said that the "Blue Mountain Security manager" -- a possible reference to Davies, who was training the British firm Blue Mountain's security forces at the consulate -- "made calls on both two-way radios and cell phones to colleagues in Benghazi warning of problems at least an hour earlier."
One source said the Blue Mountain Security chief seemed "distraught" and said "the situation here is very serious, we have a problem." He also said that even without these phone and radio calls, it was clear to everyone in the security community on the ground in Benghazi much earlier than 9:40 p.m. that fighters were gathering in preparation for an attack.
Even if this isn't a reference to Davies, the report appears to be incorrect. Several different accounts of the night of the Benghazi attack make no reference to any "distraught" messages from the Blue Mountain security force prior to the attack -- indeed, they all describe a scene of (relative) normalcy until the moment the attack started. "The radio on the Blue Mountain frequency was silent," write Fred Burton and Samuel L. Katz in Under Fire. "There was no chatter on the February 17 [militia] frequency either. There was, for the most part, silence."
CBS continues to ignore calls for an independent investigation into their flawed 60 Minutes Benghazi report, drawing a stark contrast with another failed report from 2004 in which the network bent to fears of an organized right-wing boycott.
After vigorously defending their October 27 report on Benghazi, CBS finally pulled the story, culminating in a tepid and harshly criticized 90-second apology on the November 10 edition of the show. But unlike the aftermath of a 2004 segment that used unreliable documents to report on President George W. Bush's National Guard service, CBS has not indicated that they will initiate an independent investigation, nor engage in any further effort to hold the show or its employees accountable.
In an appearance on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, Media Matters' David Brock pointed out that one major difference between CBS' actions following the two failed reports is that in 2004, the network was "scared of a right-wing boycott" because "the right was much louder in the Rather case." Hayes pointed to the "asymmetry of the pressure on the right and the left around issues like this" and "the ability of the right-wing echo machine to turn" the National Guard report into" the biggest story in the world" as factors influencing CBS' reaction to the two stories:
Comedy Central's The Daily Show and The Colbert Report criticized CBS' 60 Minutes for its apology and correction over its Benghazi report featuring discredited source Dylan Davies that media observers and journalism experts have called "pathetically inadequate," "flimsy," and "way short of what was needed."
On November 8, 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan told viewers "we were wrong" to air the October 27 segment after Davies' credibility was destroyed following reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times that what he told 60 Minutes about his actions during the Benghazi attacks differed substantially from what he told his employer and the FBI. Logan promised that on November 10, 60 Minutes would "correct the record." That apology and correction came at the end of the program, lasted a mere 90 seconds, and contradicted a previous account Logan gave about Davies' story.
Jon Stewart blasted the 60 Minutes apology in a segment he called "meh culpa," saying Davies' account was "total bullsh*t. He made the whole thing up." Stewart then criticized the program for not checking out Davies' story prior to airing the segment:
Stephen Colbert highlighted Fox News' obsession with tying the Benghazi hoax to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and its promotion of the false 60 Minutes story. Colbert also aired his own segment satirizing CBS' production of the Benghazi report.
Media reporters and journalism professors have also criticized 60 Minutes' apology. New York Times reporters Bill Carter and Brian Stelter noted that "the apology was deemed inadequate by a wide range of commentators." Politico media reporter Dylan Byers wrote that the apology "offered little in the way of an explanation for the show's error." Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz tweeted that the apology "[l]eaves many questions unanswered." Michael Getler, former Washington Post and current PBS ombudsman explained in an email to Media Matters that "the apology fell way short of what was needed." He continued:
60 Minutes should have done a segment on what went wrong, not just a brief apology. 60 Minutes is the gold standard for credible investigative reporting on hot-button issues on network television, where precious little of that is done elsewhere. So it is important to journalism and to the public, not just to CBS, that it gets things right.
For years, when major news outlets had to admit factual errors or other major mistakes, they drew the most respect and admiration when they opened up with full disclosure and in-depth investigations of what went wrong and why.
That is what makes this weekend's 60 Minutes apology so disappointing.
60 Minutes has always been the gold standard, not only for news magazines but for quality journalism. Even nine years ago, when it conducted an internal review of the 60 Minutes II report on George W. Bush's Air National Guard service, it appointed an outside panel to look at the facts and, rightly or wrongly, fired four staffers. It also helped lead to the eventual departure of legendary anchor Dan Rather.
Fast forward to today, and we find 60 Minutes' October 27 story on Benghazi has been retracted, given that Dylan Davies, the key source witness, apparently lied about his actions the night of the September 2012 terror attacks. But CBS stonewalled critics for days, long after serious questions about Davies' credibility had arisen.
Then the 90-second apology Sunday night by correspondent Lara Logan left a lot of unanswered questions about how the mistake occurred and what, if anything, was going to be reviewed further at CBS News.
All day Monday, criticism mounted from all corners of the media world, with observers saying the correction did not do enough to explain what happened or provide hope that further understanding would be given.
This is a stark contrast from some of the most well-known corrections and reviews of journalism disasters dating back decades. In most cases, such open-book approaches to admitting mistakes and explaining have helped news outlets regain credibility and draw in reader trust.
Among them is the infamous 1980 Washington Post story, Jimmy's World, the Pulitzer Prize-winning account of an eight-year-old boy who was a heroin addict. After it was revealed reporter Janet Cooke had fabricated the piece, the Post returned her Pulitzer, fired Cooke and published a lengthy account of what went wrong by then-Ombudsman Bill Green.
In addition, Executive Editor Ben Bradlee offered to resign. But as the explanation drew acceptance, he remained on the job for another 10 years. Had the Post not been so open and willing to admit its mistake, and explain how it happened, perhaps Bradlee is not allowed to remain.
After 60 Minutes ran a flawed report on President Bush's National Guard service in 2004, CBS News and its parent company formed an independent panel to investigate the segment and instituted many of the panel's recommendations, including firing several of the responsible parties. This stands in stark contrast to the aftermath of 60 Minutes' recent flawed report on the Benghazi attacks.
Longtime journalists and news ethicists who spoke with Media Matters described CBS correspondent Lara Logan's limited correction as "lacking" and "flimsy."
"I was really surprised by how it wasn't just that it was flimsy and lacked any kind of substance, but in its way it was kind of high-handed," said David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun TV critic. "It certainly wasn't contrite."
Logan's brief appearance at the end of the November 10 broadcast explained that Dylan Davies, the former security contractor who appeared as a supposed Benghazi "eyewitness" during the October 27 segment, had "misled" the network about his actions the night of the Benghazi attacks.
But Logan's November 10 apology didn't offer additional information about why 60 Minutes trusted Davies' accounts, why they did not review his report to the FBI, or whether any further internal investigation will take place.
Logan had previously appeared on CBS's This Morning on November 8 to apologize to viewers and offer an incomplete explanation for how the Davies story had made it to air.
Though former NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard praised Logan's This Morning appearance, she added that "last night's brief mea culpa was severely lacking." Shepard continued, "It needed an explanation of why the mistake occurred in the first place. It needed more on their initial contact with Davies. Did the conservative CBS Corp. imprint, which was publishing Davies memoir, suggest the story?
"What was disappointing is that 60 Minutes, heralded for investigative reporting, didn't apply its chops to telling the audience why this happened."
Michael Getler, former Washington Post ombudsman and current PBS ombudsman, offered similar views.
"I watched 60 Minutes last night and felt the apology fell way short of what was needed," Getler said via email. "60 Minutes should have done a segment on what went wrong, not just a brief apology. 60 Minutes is the gold standard for credible investigative reporting on hot-button issues on network television, where precious little of that is done elsewhere. So it is important to journalism and to the public, not just to CBS, that it gets things right."
Kelly McBride, ethics instructor at The Poynter Institute, agreed with critics who are pointing out the shortcomings of 60 Minutes' apology.
"I think the criticism is spot on and I don't think people are going to let this go until CBS explains the answer to two very specifics questions," she said in an interview. "The first is, what did they do to vet Dylan Davies? And where did the process breakdown?"
She later added, "It is entirely possible that someone with an agenda was trying to influence the story. Who was inappropriately influencing that story? The big question to 60 Minutes is 'do you think that [correction] will do? I don't think it will."
Following 60 Minutes' tepid, incomplete apology for their retracted October 27 report on Benghazi, a broad array of media observers are criticizing the network's response to the controversy.
After stonewalling critics of their report, CBS finally retracted the segment on November 7, long after it had become clear that there were serious questions about the credibility of the supposed "eyewitness" at the center of their story.
In a November 8 interview on CBS This Morning, 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan told viewers that "we were wrong" to air the segment and indicated that the network planned to "correct the record" on the November 10 edition of 60 Minutes.
But 60 Minutes devoted a mere 90 seconds to its correction and declined to adequately explain how the segment had made it to the air in the first place.
Following the correction, Media Matters founder David Brock called Logan's apology "wholly inadequate" and reiterated his call for the network to appoint an independent commission to investigate the botched report:
This evening's 60 Minutes response was wholly inadequate and entirely self-serving. The network must come clean by appointing an independent commission to determine exactly how and why it fell prey so easily to an obvious hoax.
Numerous commentators and media observers are also harshly criticizing CBS' report, with several pointing out that it leaves important questions unanswered. (Greg Mitchell is also rounding up some of the criticism at The Nation, noting that "leading critics" are demanding the network launch a formal investigation of the story.)
CBS News is under mounting pressure to launch an independent investigation into how 60 Minutes came to mislead its audience in an October 27th report that relied almost exclusively on a source they knew was an admitted liar.
CBS came under similar scrutiny in September 2004, when questions arose about the authenticity of documents 60 Minutes II used in a report challenging then President Bush's service in the National Guard.
On September 22, 2004, after CBS decided to appoint an independent investigation, a New York Times editorial said it was the right thing to do:
After an uncomfortably long wait, CBS has rightly gone public with its own doubts about the validity of the documents and commissioned an independent investigation.
On November 10, 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan issued an inadequate apology that has been dismissed by a broad range of media observers. The statement came after nearly two weeks of stonewalling amid evidence that CBS' key eyewitness, a British security contractor named Dylan Davies, had told conflicting stories about his whereabouts during the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Media Matters founder David Brock called Logan's November 10 apology "wholly inadequate and entirely self-serving," and reiterated his call for CBS to appoint an independent commission to investigate the since-retracted report.
The message from CBS News, following the high-profile implosion of its October 27 Benghazi report? We're sorry. But we're not that sorry.
Coming days after CBS News chief Jeff Fager categorized the Benghazi mess as among the worst blunders in the show's history, the network's eagerly awaited apology on Sunday's night's 60 Minutes turned out to be an extremely tepid and limited effort, with correspondent Lara Logan taking just 90 seconds to walk back what she described as a sourcing error.
Logan's correction, in which she conceded the program "made a mistake," failed to capture the scope of the 60 Minutes Benghazi blunder. She also refused to address the pressing questions about how she and her colleagues produced such a flawed report; a report that 60 Minutes reportedly worked on for an entire year. (Logan's previous apology on CBS This Morning also failed to address those key issues.) The correction was widely derided by critics as being insufficient and misleading.
Perhaps more importantly, Logan offered no indication that CBS News is undertaking any kind of review to figure out what went so wrong at 60 Minutes, how an entire report was built around a charlatan "eyewitness," and how the show's bosses can prevent a colossal embarrassment like this from transpiring again.
Remember: In the days that followed the original airing of the troubled Benghazi report, CBS did nothing to re-report or fact-check the story. Other journalists, including those from the Washington Post and the New York Times, took on that burden. Basically, CBS waited for outside journalists to vet CBS' own Benghazi story, and only after they uncovered glaring inconsistencies did the network's news division admit that mistakes were made.
To date, CBS has pointedly failed to appoint an independent panel to review the controversial report. That refusal stands in stark contrast to the path CBS took in the wake of its 2004 story about questions surrounding President's George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. That 60 Minutes II report featured documents from one of Bush's former commander that could not be authenticated and sparked widespread condemnation from CBS' conservative critics, as well as an internal crisis at the network.
The double standard here is striking: CBS News chief Jeff Fager says the Benghazi story is among the biggest mistakes in the history of 60 Minutes. So why not appoint an independent review to figure how it happened, the way CBS did the last time the news magazine franchise was embroiled in a politically charged controversy? Why did the National Guard story require a painstaking autopsy performed by outside observers, but Benghazi garnered just a 90-second correction on 60 Minutes? Are CBS executives that nervous about what an autonomous review might undercover this time?
Also, are politics in play? Does CBS not feel the need for an independent review because this time the criticism is coming from mainstream media reporters as well as those on the left? When CBS faced the wrath of the right-wing media in 2004, the network's corporate reaction was noticeably different.
Not only was the review ordered, but it was later discovered that CBS officials were so spooked by the conservative attacks that when it came to assembling its "independent" panel the network reportedly considered including Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge on a list of possible review panelists. Also, CBS insiders were concerned that former GOP senator Warren Rudman would not "mollify" the network's right-wing critics so he was not selected for the "independent" panel.
Meanwhile, note that the importance of an outside and truly independent review is even more pressing today because CBS News boss Fager is also the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, which would make it impossible for there to be a truly thorough, internal vetting of what went wrong considering Fager himself would be questioned about why his own program screwed up so badly. Ultimately, it would be Fager who'd likely come under the most scrutiny from an outside review; an outside review that Fager so far refuses to appoint.