Old friend — and cowboy movie star — Gene Lyons makes an essential point today about the whole Lara Logan-60 Minutes mess regarding the Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! hoax in which CBS was so gleefully complicit. The whole thing essentially was an exercise in checkbook journalism from the start, because Super Counterterrorist Guy had a book deal from another company in the CBS empire, and what a company it is, too.
Exactly how generous an advance Simon & Schuster’s “Threshold Editions” bestowed upon Davies for his heroic tale about singlehandedly fighting his way into the besieged U.S. compound where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three fellow Americans were killed by a terrorist mob hasn’t been revealed. Presumably enough, however, to give the one-time British mercenary ample reason to concoct a narrative pleasing to its readers’ expectations. Having previously published books by such innovators in the art of storytelling as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and Jerome Corsi, Threshold editors would appear to be less than rigorous about fact-checking. So excuse me for saying so, but that makes Davies virtually a paid source, and 60 Minutes a practitioner of checkbook journalism that could ruin its well-deserved reputation.
You’re excused, Gene.
Threshold, which is run by the inexcusable Mary Matalin, exists only so that the CBS corporation can break off a piece of the lucrative rube market. It exists primarily to produce and sell wingnut propaganda. It exists so that otherwise unpublishable conservatives won’t scream and yell about how nasty liberal publishing elites are keeping them down. Through a combination of corporate cowardice and corporate avarice, the long march of the “Liberal Media” hoax has resulted in an independent information economy totally devoted to weaponized bullshit. The idea that a lunatic faker like Jerome Corsi isn’t yet reduced to stapling his writings to lamp posts but, instead, gets actual book deals under the umbrella of a legacy house like Simon and Schuster makes the whole thing kind of a mad masterpiece when you think about it. But it extends beyond Matalin and it extends beyond CBS and this one story.
How did TV’s most storied newsmagazine make such a huge mistake? And why won’t they explain exactly what happened?
Those are the questions left unanswered days after 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan and CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager retracted an Oct. 27 story about the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that featured a suspect source: government contractor Dylan Davies.
Davies, who wrote a book under a pseudonym with a harrowing account of rushing to the scene, reportedly told a different story about that night to the FBI. When The New York Times unearthed the discrepancy last week, Logan, Fager and CBS News took back a story they had defended strenuously until then.
No mention of blogs though, alas.
Sloppy reporting by the celebrity news website TMZ has created the latest demonstrably false Internet meme — that actor Tom Cruise believes acting is as hard as fighting in Afghanistan.
He never said it. In fact, he said quite the opposite.
Cruise is suing Bauer Publishing for libel, after a Bauer publication said Cruise had abandoned his daughter, Suri, whose mother is Katie Holmes. TMZ writers read a deposition given in the case and managed to totally fuck up a summary of it.
Cruise’s attorney suggested that an actor filming on location was in a similar position as a soldier serving in combat abroad — neither can quickly leave his job to attend family events, such as Suri’s first day of school. Bauer’s attorney questioned Cruise about this comparison.
“Now your counsel has publicly equated your absence from Suri for these extended periods of time as being analogous to someone fighting in Afghanistan,” opposing counsel asks him. “Are you aware of that?”
“I didn’t hear the Afghanistan,” Cruise replies. “That’s what it feels like and certainly on this last movie it was brutal. it was brutal.”
“Do you believe that the situations are the same?” Cruise is asked.
“Oh come on,” Cruise says, “you know, we’re making a movie.”
In other words, Cruise was scoffing at the opposing counsel’s suggestion that combat overseas is the same as filming on location. Yet, TMZ writers managed to misconstrue the entire exchange to put words in Cruise’s mouth that he in fact never said.
Oh, and that guy that 60 Minutes featured? You know, the guy who said he scaled a 12-foot wall at the Benghazi compound and fought off terrorists singlehandedly, like a real-life James Bond?
He never did it. It was all a lie.
TMZ and CBS News — birds of a feather. Ed Murrow is spinning in his grave.
On September 10, 2004, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather dedicated five minutes of the telecast to address the brewing controversy around a 60 Minutes II report he had aired two days earlier. Featuring disputed documents from a former commander in the Texas Air National Guard, the 60 Minutes II report detailed the lingering questions about President Bush’s service in a coveted state-side Guard unit during the height of the Vietnam War and how, despite his no-show service, Bush was awarded an honorable discharge.
Within hours of the report, conservative bloggers raised doubts about the documents’ validity. The next day, mainstream outlets began airing their own doubts. With the network’s credibility on the line, less than 48 hours after the initial report, Rather and CBS responded with a detailed defense of their reporting on its evening newscast, even though the Guard report aired on a different program, 60 Minutes II.
CBS’s frantic corporate response to the Guard controversy (which included blatant kowtowing to its partisan critics; see more below) stands in stark contrast to the network’s utterly passive, non-response to the widening controversy surrounding the heavily-hyped 60 Minutes report that aired on October 27 about the terrorist attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi in 2012.
That report has been plagued by problems, including obvious conflicts of interest and the more recent revelation that its star witness told contradictory tales about the terror attack and what he did as it unfolded that night.
The difference in the two crisis responses is striking in part because the underlying Guard story that CBS told about Bush failing to serve his duty has been proven to be true: In the spring of 1972, with 770 days left of required duty, then-Lt. Bush unilaterally decided that he was done fulfilling his military obligation and walked away from the Guard. That means CBS could have omitted the disputed documents from its Guard report and still told an accurate story about Bush’s non-service.
But CBS’s dubious Benghazi report revolved around already debunked allegations about why no U.S. military forces from outside Libya were sent to save the Americans at the besieged Benghazi compound. In other words, CBS’s witness controversy is attached to an-already inaccurate Benghazi report, which makes the recent 60 Minutes’ transgression more serious than the one that triggered the Guard frenzy.
On October 27, 60 Minutes featured a supposed “eyewitness” of the September 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities; one who claimed that during the attack he heroically scaled a wall of the U.S. compound, knocked out a terrorist with his rifle butt, and later traveled across town to the Benghazi hospital to see Ambassador Chris Stevens’ dead body.
The story Dylan Davies told CBS though, was wildly different than the far more subdued account he gave his superiors, according to an incident report that was obtained by The Washington Post. According to the Post, Davies had previously filed a report with his security contractor employer saying that he “could not get anywhere near” the compound the night of the attack.
Davies now claims he lied to his employer because he didn’t want his boss to know he’d disobeyed strict orders that night to stay away from the Benghazi compound. While acknowledging that deceit, Davies claims he was telling the truth on 60 Minutes.
It’s been 30 years since two truck bombs killed 306 people (241 American servicemen, 58 French servicemen, 6 civilians & 2 suicide bombers) and injured 75 others. I was a young soldier in an Armor battalion in Germany that Sunday morning and remember hearing U.S. President Ronald Reagan deploring the attack and pledging to keep a military force in Lebanon. We expected that to mean a real US Army presence and waited for our orders to move out and help our Marine brothers. Instead, the US turned tail and ran for home.
(image from Wiki)
The next time you hear any so-called conservative mention Benghazi, be sure to remind them of one of President Reagan’s least impressive moments from a presidency full of error and folly. And keep in your memory the hundreds of people who paid a price that really was preventable.
It happens at 2:32 of the video below when Brian Kilmeade attempts, again, to promulgate one of the key lies about Benghazi: the idea that no help was sent to stop the attack, but guest Samuel M. Katz quickly explains in detail why that is simply not true:
On the evening of September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group of terrorists allegedly led by members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith were killed in the assault. The remaining members of the mission were evacuated to a nearby CIA facility, which came under artillery fire early the next morning. Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both CIA contractors who had served as U.S. Navy Seals, were killed in that attack.
Just after midnight on the east coast, Mitt Romney’s campaign released a statement accusing President Obama of “sympathizing” with the attackers; this politicization was immediately echoed by the right-wing noise machine.
Over the past year, conservative media figures and activists, led by Fox News, have repeatedly created and promoted lies, smears, and conspiracies related to the Benghazi attack. While the attack raised meaningful questions about how we can best protect U.S. diplomats in dangerous environments, the right has instead sought to use what happened in Benghazi and in the days that followed to bring down President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other members of the administration.
Much of the criticism has revolved around two lines of attack: That the Obama administration downplayed the role that terrorists played in the attack, and that the administration held back additional U.S. military forces that could have been used to save lives. In reality, President Obama referred to the attack as an “act of terror” during his September 12 Rose Garden speech, and U.S. officials have made clear that all available and appropriate forces were sent as quickly as possible. As former diplomatic security agent Fred Burton and journalist Samuel M. Katz wrote in their book Under Fire:
There was never a question concerning U.S. resolve or the overall capabilities of the U.S. military to respond to Benghazi. There was, however, nothing immediate about an immediate response. There were logistics and host-nation approvals to consider. An immediate response was hampered by the equation of geography and logistics.
In this report, Media Matters chronicles:
CNN runs a somewhat credulous scoop (“First on CNN!”) about decidedly un-breaking news — the launch of America Rising PAC’s campaign, Stop Hillary 2016. It’s interesting to read about the messaging tests playing out in “a series of e-mails to randomized groups of donors.” What moves people? Benghazi? The fear of “having to see another Clinton in the White House”?
Spoiler: None of this moves people. There have been Stop Hillary PACs, with that exact name, since 2005. They’ve been flops. Back in 2007 I tracked the progress of Stop Her Now and various Republican efforts to fundraise off of Clintonphobia, and found them ranging from disastrous ($25,000 for Stop Her Now, which got tons of coverage) to just weak (busted money-asks from John McCain and party committees). A raft of anti-Hillary books and bios were flops, leading with the “investigative” Jeff Gerth book that got reviewed everywhere and sold 18,000 copies.