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CBS correspondent apologizes for report on Benghazi attack

The correspondent for the disputed “60 Minutes'’ segment about the attack on the United States Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year apologized on the air Friday morning.
2013 Winter TCA Tour - Day 9
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 12: News correspondent Lara Logan of \"60 Minutes Sports\" speaks onstage during the Showtime portion of the 2013 Winter TCA Tour at Langham Hotel on January 12, 2013 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images North America
/ Source: The New York Times

The correspondent for the disputed “60 Minutes'’ segment about the attack on the United States Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year apologized on the air Friday morning, saying it was a “mistake'’ to put on a security officer whose credibility has since been undermined by his diverging accounts of his actions that night.

The correspondent, Lara Logan, said on “CBS This Morning'’ that the news division was misled by the officer, adding, “We will apologize to our viewers, and we will correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night.”

The apology followed disclosure by The New York Times on Thursday evening that the security contractor, Dylan Davies, had provided the F.B.I. an account that contradicted a version of events he provided in a recently published book and in the interview with “60 Minutes,” which was broadcast on Oct. 27.

Mr. Davies told the F.B.I. that he was not on the scene until the morning after the attack.

The information he provided in an F.B.I. interview was described on Thursday by two senior government officials as consistent with an incident report by the Blue Mountain security business, which had been hired to protect United States interests in Benghazi. The officials who spoke said they had been briefed on the government investigation.

Ms. Logan said Friday that CBS was unaware of that incident report when it produced its story, suggesting failures during the reporting process.

“He denied that report,” Ms. Logan said, “and he said that he told the F.B.I. the same story that he had told us. But what we now know is that he told the F.B.I a different story to what he told us. And, you know, that was the moment for us when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source. And that we were wrong to put him on air.”

Ms. Logan said that since learning about the F.B.I. report, CBS has tried to contact Mr. Davies but has not heard back from him.

A lengthy apology
The lengthy apology on Friday, highly unusual for any news organization, was all the more notable because it came from “60 Minutes,” one of the most esteemed newsmagazines on American television.

“The most important thing to every person at ’60 Minutes’ is the truth, and today the truth is that we made a mistake,” Ms. Logan said.

It remains to be seen what kind of repercussions the incident has within “60 Minutes” or whether CBS will conduct an independent investigation, the way it did following a discredited 2004 segment in which Dan Rather reported on George W. Bush’s national guard service.

Mr. Davies, who worked for Blue Mountain, has disavowed the incident report, saying in an interview last week with the online magazine The Daily Beast that he did not write it, had never even seen it and was not responsible for the account of events it contained.

The contradictions between the versions offered in the incident report and what was presented on television and in the book, “The Embassy House” — Mr. Davies appeared on the program and wrote the book under the pseudonym Morgan Jones — have led to questions about how “60 Minutes” came to present Mr. Davies as a credible source for its extensive report on the Benghazi incident.

The incident report described Mr. Davies as remaining at the villa he occupied in Libya and not getting to the scene on the night of the attack. In the version he wrote in his book and gave to “60 Minutes,” Mr. Davies said he left the villa that night to visit a hospital where he said he saw the body of the deceased ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and twice rushed to the scene of the attack.

At the compound, he said, he had a confrontation with an attacker, whom he dispatched with a blow to the face with a rifle butt.

Jennifer Robinson, a spokeswoman for the book’s publisher, Threshold Editions, which is part of the Simon and Schuster unit of CBS, said, “Although we have not seen the F.B.I. report, in light of these revelations we will review the book and take appropriate action with regard to its publication status.”

Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News and executive producer of “60 Minutes,” said Thursday after being contacted by The New York Times, “We’re surprised to hear about this, and if it shows we’ve been misled, we will make a correction."

Defense of Davies
CBS News had extensively defended Mr. Davies this week, suggesting — as Mr. Davies did in The Daily Beast interview — that he was the object of a campaign by State Department officials to quiet continued questioning about the events in Benghazi. CBS also publicly vouched for the authenticity of Mr. Davies’s account on “60 Minutes.”

Mr. Fager issued a statement this week, saying that the program was “proud of the reporting that went into the story” and expressing confidence that the sources on the program “told accurate versions of what happened that night.”

Ms. Logan had also expressed confidence that the incident report did not contradict Mr. Davies’s account on “60 Minutes” because he had never signed it and disputed its details. “He never had two stories. He only had one story,” Ms. Logan said in an interview this week.

But CBS had all along acknowledged that Mr. Davies had also been interviewed by the F.B.I. The network had suggested that the agency’s interview would corroborate Mr. Davies’s account on “60 Minutes.” Instead, the disclosure that the F.B.I. interview matched the incident report leaves CBS facing more questions about the primary source for its investigation.

Brian Stelter contributed reporting.

This story, "" originally appeared in The New York Times.