60 Minutes’ Response Is Still Inadequate

60 Minutes has released the results of its review of Lara Logan’s ridiculous story on Benghazi. In response, they’re putting Logan and the producer of the story on administrative leave for an undisclosed period of time.

I guess if Dan Rather were prettier he’d still be working at 60 Minutes.

And even with Logan’s leave, their response is still inadequate. Check out the first two bullets in their internal report.

–From the start, Lara Logan and her producing team were looking for a different angle to the story of the Benghazi attack. They believed they found it in the story of Dylan Davies, written under the pseudonym, “Morgan Jones”. It purported to be the first western eyewitness account of the attack. But Logan’s report went to air without 60 Minutes knowing what Davies had told the FBI and the State Department about his own activities and location on the night of the attack.

–The fact that the FBI and the State Department had information that differed from the account Davies gave to 60 Minutes was knowable before the piece aired. But the wider reporting resources of CBS News were not employed in an effort to confirm his account. It’s possible that reporters and producers with better access to inside FBI sources could have found out that Davies had given varying and conflicting accounts of his story. [my emphasis]

All the focus on this story has been on what Jones AKA Davies told the FBI. But as 60 Minutes notes (and I reported weeks ago), Jones AKA Davies’ story also conflicted in significant ways with the publicly released Accountability Review Board. And while the report didn’t attribute the many failures of Jones AKA Davies’ employees to an interview with him directly, the scathing review of Blue Mountain Group’s (and therefore Jones AKA Davies’) performance provided obvious motive for Jones AKA Davies to lie (in part, because his failures contributed to getting Chris Stevens killed).

So while it’s nice that 60 Minutes expresses some embarrassment they didn’t get people with better sources at CBS (including the CBS people who used to work at FBI) to double check Jones AKA Davies’ story with the FBI, I’m really wondering if they have an explanation for why, over a year of work, neither Logan nor her producer did something as simple as a Google search?

A Rather Sad Ending For Dan

The New York Court of Appeals today issued its decision denying Dan Rather’s appeal from the dismissal of his civil case. In light of the fact his case was pled and litigated under New York state law in state courts, this is, sadly, likely the last act in the play.

Dan Rather’s personal statement on the decision:

Naturally I am disappointed in today’s ruling because we know it is a grave miscarriage of justice.

Most of all I am disappointed that no court or jury studied the evidence and heard the actual facts of the case. The case was dismissed on purely technical grounds.

My mission continues to be working to ensure that the media can gather and report news unfettered by the influence of government and major corporate interests.

Dan Rather

This stems from a decision by the New York Appellate Division last September, specifically September 29, 2009. It was a horrible decision on a number of grounds, a copy attached here, but it was decided 5-0 by the Appellate Division which made the odds of the Court of Appeals granting the request to appeal slim.

Under New York state law and procedure, you need permission to appeal to the Court of Appeals from a unanimous Appellate Division decision. Either the Appellate Division has to give permission or Court of Appeals has to give permission; but there was no appeal as of a matter of right for Dan, and the Court of Appeals refused his request.

The decision last September by the Appellate Division was horrid and truly questionable legally, at least in my opinion, notably in the way it cut off the very discovery that could, and would, have provided the basis to overcome the deficiencies the court focused on. In essence, the appellate court prevented Rather from demonstrating his case, and then dismissed it because he had not demonstrated his case. Irrespective of that, however, the decision stands and Dan Rather appears unjustifiably done. Courage Dan!

Days after Cronkite Passes with Little Notice from CBS, Rather Gets Discovery

One of the indignities of Walter Cronkite’s death on Friday was that CBS ignored his passing in favor of their regular crappy Friday night lineup. The many big names whom Cronkite had mentored instead appeared on the cable news shows to give Cronkite a proper tribute. And as reporter after reporter described Cronkite being cut from CBS, I couldn’t help but wish that Dan Rather (who of course was on the cable news paying tribute to Cronkite as well) would get discovery in his suit against CBS.

Today, the Judge in Rather’s suit ordered CBS to give Rather 3,000 documents.

Dan Rather won significant victories Tuesday in his suit against his former network, CBS. He won access to more than 3,000 documents that his lawyer said were expected to reveal evidence that CBS had tried to influence the outcome of a panel that investigated his much-debated “60 Minutes” report about former President George W. Bush’s military record.

Mr. Rather also won an appeal to restore a fraud charge against CBS that had been dismissed. Martin Gold, the lawyer representing the former anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” called it “a very successful day for us; we got everything.”

Mr. Rather called it a “good day” for his side and — referring to the name for the CBS headquarters — “a bad day for Black Rock.”

Jim Quinn, the lawyer representing CBS, called it “a minor skirmish in a long battle” and predicted that the fraud charge would be dismissed again because “it’s frivolous.”

CBS’ lawyer can scoff all he wants–the big point here was always to get discovery. Among other documents, Rather will get emails between CBS’s panel investigating Rather and the law firm CBS paid to investigate the TANG story, drafts of the investigative panel’s report, and separation agreements of a bunch of CBS employees who were silenced when they left the network.

Maybe I’m overly optimistic that these documents will reveal how CBS caved for the Bush Administration and in so doing sacrificed Rather. But it all does feel like CBS’s bad karma is catching up to it.

First Abu Ghraib, and Now Siegelman

Larisa reports that 60 Minutes has decided to spike its story on Don Siegelman.

60 Minutes Caves to Pressure from White House on Siegelman Story…

Well folks, seems that 60 Minutes is postponing (read "killing") its Siegelman story. The excuse I am told for this lapse in ethics is that the network needs more time to vet the whistle-blower, Dana Jill Simpson. You see, the reason the network suddenly needs more time to vet Simpson is that the White House has launched a direct campaign inside CBS to discredit her and just to make sure the dirt sticks, they have called in some favors too. I am told that Senator Jeff Sessions has been instructed to help the White House discredit Simpson as part of his "Senatorial" duties. Nice system of government we have here, eh?

So, two things are going to happen now. The first is, we will be including what 60 Minutes did not report as part of the Raw Story series on the case. Instead of 5 installments, we will now have 6. Second, all of you as citizens of this nation must voice your concerns about this situation to CBS. You want a free press? Then fight for it!

60 Minutes
524 West 57th St.
New York, NY 10019

EMAIL: [email protected]
PHONE: (212) 975-3247

It’s probably worth reminding folks that 60 Minutes attempted to spike–and managed to postpone–another story that was politically damaging to the Administration.

The most interesting thing about the Dan Rather complaint, IMO, is the description it gave of CBS and Administration attempts to spike the Abu Ghraib story.

In late April 2004, Mr. Rather, as Correspondant, and Mary Mapes, a veteran producer, broke a news story of national importance on 60 Minutes II–the abuse by American military personnel of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison. The story, which included photographs of the abusive treatment of prisoners, consumer American news media for many months.

Despite the story’s importance, and because of the obvious negative impact the story would have on the Bush administration with which Viacom and CBS wished to curry favor, CBS management attempted to bury it. Read more

Dan Rather Gets Discovery

Great news. Dan Rather will join the 5,732 other people (in addition to the American public as a whole, of course) who have a legal claim to see all those emails the White House has already disappeared (h/t pontificator). The judge in Rather’s lawsuit has decided to grant him discovery for his lawsuit.

It looks like former CBS News anchor Dan Rather will indeed get his day in court. On Wednesday evening Justice Ira Gammerman of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan made a preliminary ruling denying the TV network’s motion to dismiss Rather’s $70 million lawsuit. "I think discovery should go forward," said Gammerman.


Now that the case will be moving forward, Rather’s lawyer Marty Gold wants CBS to start forking over internal emails and documents to prove his case, including exchanges between network brass and the White House. Naturally, this has CBS lawyers asking the court to limit the scope of the discovery. "It seems pretty clear they don’t want to produce [the documents]," said Gold.

So let’s see how those typical White House excuses are going to work…

State Secrets? The White House would have to claim that CBS was party to its biggest secrets, thereby proving that CBS is nothing but a party propaganda organ. Though of course, that’s effectively what they’ve said about Judy Judy Judy, both before and during Iraq.

Executive Privilege? For a case intimately involving whether Bush cheated his way out of military service? It doesn’t matter who it is, they’re not going to want to admit that anyone close enough to invoke privilege was "deliberating" about those TANG documents.

Which pretty much leaves the last refuge of the Bush Administration: the dog ate my emails. All of them.

Which will make it all the more interesting when the White House has to tell us what the state of their backup tapes is in approximately 3 days.