The apology by "60 Minutes" for its botched reporting on its story about the Benghazi attacks opened the venerable program, and CBS News, to a deluge of tough criticism on Friday.
Correspondent Lara Logan admitted on Friday that her main source for the story, security officer Dylan Davies, couldn't be trusted and shouldn't have been put on the air. This came after it was revealed that Davies had told the FBI he was not at the scene of the attack -- the opposite of what he told "60 Minutes." It also came nearly a week after initial questions were raised about the report--questions that CBS almost entirely refused to answer.
The show pulled its report off the Internet, and Logan said an on-air apology would take place.
The reaction was swift and harsh.
"This CBS thing is just unbelievably bad," Talking Point's Memo's Josh Marshall tweeted.
There were calls for Logan's head:
Lara Logan apologizes--but must be fired. CBS trying to move on. http://t.co/gSMXEWsmF0-- Greg Mitchell (@GregMitch) November 8, 2013
There were the inevitable comparisons to a certain HBO show:
CBS News is looking like a storyline on The Newsroom. That is no compliment. http://t.co/CUgwjmd7YF-- Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) November 8, 2013
Frank Rich wondered when there would be a further investigation into the corporate ties between "60 Minutes" and the publisher of Davies' book:
.@CBSNews must explain relationship bet Logan's Benghazi source & CBS-owned partisan book publisher whose editor-in-chief is Mary Matalin-- Frank Rich (@frankrichny) November 8, 2013
Blogger Marcy Wheeler wrote that "60 Minutes" had allowed Davies "the opportunity to make 3 claims that, as delivered, were unverifiable (because there were no witnesses)."
Esquire's Charles Pierce was a little more gleeful:
I held off for a while on this because history tells us that jumping ugly early can have very unfortunate results on stories like this but, Jesus H. Christ on tour with Iron Maiden, does it look like the show screwed the pooch on its big scoop regarding Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! Lara Logan is tap-dancing as fast as she can, but the fact remains that the guy that they hung their story on is turning out to be the Stephen Glass of counter-terrorism.
The Washington Post's Erik Wemple took a broader view. He wrote that Logan's apology was a model of professionalism, but added that "60 Minutes" took far too long to fall on its sword:
Its week-long stonewalling proves the cardinal rule that media apologies come only in the face of overwhelming evidence. Give Logan & Co. credit for the tone and comprehensiveness of this morning's presentation -- and subtract a bit, too, for not moving sooner. News organizations tend to ditch their legendary nimbleness when it comes to coming clean.
The New York Times' Damien Cave lamented what it might all mean:
What's sad about this CBS error is that it hurts journalism, undermining trust, again.-- Damien Cave (@damiencave) November 8, 2013