Benghazi Incident Hoax

September 11, 2012: An armed group of militants attacked the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. A CIA installation was attacked the next day. Four Americans were killed, including the ambassador. The incident bloomed into a full-fledged scandal in Washington.

October 27, 2013: CBS News' "60 Minutes" news program aired a large report on the incident. A security contractor identified as "Morgan Jones" provided a personal account of how he managed to enter the compound over and battle with a militant. The report suggested that President Obama had not done everything he could to save the American staff. The scandal was simmering, although a bit of politics was fueling it. "Jones" had written a book, "The Embassy House" that was published by a sister company of CBS. The book told the same story he told CBS.

November 7, 2013: The New York Times reported that two government officials have stated that "Jones" (identified as Dylan Davies) had told his employer that he did not go to the compound that night. CBS also announced that they had determined that the "60 Minutes" report had serious problems.(CNN)

November 8, 2013: On CNN, CBS correspondent Lara Logan admitted that the report on October 27 had major problems. CBS had discovered that "Morgan Jones" had not been a reliable source. This contractor, identified as Dylan Davies, had told his employer AND the FBI that he had not been at the compound that night. That was opposite of the story he told CBS and the publisher, Simon & Schuster. He had claimed that his employer told him not to go to the compound and that he willfully violated those orders. If he told the truth to the FBI (likely), then that claim was false, as was everything else he told CBS and the publisher about the incident..

The hoax produced gross embarrassment for CBS. The ultimate results were as follows.

Logan told CNN that CBS stood by the report "because he was very upfront about it; that was part of his story." (CNN) As if "very upfront" constituted any reliable evidence. Do, however, give CBS credit for admitting the error and correcting the record very quickly after the problems with Davies' story became known. We don't know the reason for the hoax, but a profit motive (the book) cannot be ruled out.

The CNN report on the hoax. Details about the hoax come from the CNN report.

November 26, 2013: Multiple news outlets reported that CBS News had instructed reporter Lara Logan and producer Max McLellan to take leave of absence. An internal investigation had revealed that the team had not used all CBS News resources available to them to check the story and had missed at least one "red flag" about it.. This StarTribune story about it is one of many.