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No excuse for botched ’60 Minutes’ report

“We were wrong.”

That’s what CBS reporter Lara Logan said Friday morning about her misleading and inaccurate report which recently aired on “60 Minutes” about the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi last fall.

You may remember Logan was the reporter who conducted the now-infamous interview with security contractor Dylan Davies about the night of the attacks. Davies revealed very specific and graphic details to Logan, recounting how he rushed to the U.S. compound the night of the attacks and encountered some of the al-Qaida terrorists.

After Logan’s report aired, it came to light that Davies had told a very different story about that night to his employer. As a matter of fact, he said he wasn’t even there. When this came to light, Logan and CBS continued to back their report alleging that Davies lied to his employer because he disregarded their order when he was told not to go to the U.S. compound.

Thursday we learned that Davies had told the Federal Bureau of Investigation, just like he told his employer, that he hadn’t gone to the compound that night.

Logan has now admitted that Davies wasn’t a reliable source and that they never should have aired his story.

“The most important thing to every person at ’60 Minutes’ is the truth, and today the truth is that we made a mistake,” she said, calling it a very “disappointing” situation.

Disappointing? That would be an understatement. They may not have paid their source, but they gave Davies a huge TV platform. Plus, two days after Davies’ “60 Minutes” interview aired, a CBS subsidiary that specializes in conservative-based nonfiction published his story (the same one he told on “60 Minutes”) in a new memoir. That sounds like a conflict of interest with possible financial gain to me.

Think about how dramatically different Davies’ two stories are. He told “60 Minutes” and wrote in his book that he was scaling a 12-foot wall and fighting terrorists. When he spoke to his employer and the FBI, he said he wasn’t even at the compound that night.

So why did Logan trust Davies after she knew he had lied to his employers? Why was Davies the centerpiece of her report? Why did she not disclose anything about his new memoir which was about to be published by a company tied to CBS?

This is a huge mess on so many levels, and you have to wonder if Logan and “60 Minutes” wanted Davies’ detailed heroic account to be true so badly that they overlooked all of the red flags along the way.

Unfortunately, this reminds of one of the final episodes on the TV show “Newsroom” where the news team airs a hair-raising report about the use of sarin gas by the military and it all turned out not to be true. Like “60 Minutes,” they had to retract their story. The “Newsroom” episode was make believe, but this story certainly isn’t.