The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group in this file photo taken September 11, 2012.
Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters

CBS backs off unraveling Benghazi tale

It’s been nearly two weeks since CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired a report that caused considerable excitement from Benghazi conspiracy theorists. Though much of the report, a full year in the making, covered familiar ground, the segment also highlighted an alleged witness to the attack, who said he scaled a 12-foot wall, beat an al Qaeda fighter with the butt of his rifle, and personally saw Ambassador Chris Stevens’ body.
The man’s name is Dylan Davies – he used a pseudonym on “60 Minutes” for no apparent reason – and he has a book coming out about his Benghazi experience, published by a CBS-owned company that releases far-right books from conservative personalities.
Almost immediately, Davies’ story started to unravel – he’d previously told his employers he was nowhere near the U.S. consulate during the attack. Making matters worse, Davies had told the FBI the opposite of what he told “60 Minutes.” By earlier this week, the defense was that Davies lied before, but the public should neverthless believe his dramatic tale that makes him look like a hero.
The CBS reporters involved with the story continued to defend it anyway, brushing off broad criticism as politically motivated, and insisting that their segment was accurate. On last week’s edition of “60 Minutes,” the show featured feedback from viewers who cheered the segment, but made no mention of the burgeoning controversy.
That posture collapsed last night. The CBS program said about 12 hours ago that it had “learned of new information that undercuts the account” from their alleged witness. Soon after, “60 Minutes” pulled the segment from its website.
And this morning, CBS’s Lara Logan appeared on air to say, “We will apologize to our viewers and we will correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night…. The truth is that we made a mistake.”
It’s worth noting that the “60 Minutes” error was consequential: its report add fuel to conspiracy theorists’ fire for no reason, and led Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to start blocking all administrative nominees awaiting Senate confirmation votes.
If recent history is any guide, far-right activists and lawmakers will be unfazed by the unraveling of the CBS report, and will continue to argue that their debunked, wild-eyed allegations are true.