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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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'60 Minutes' needs to do more than just apologize for botched Benghazi story

Having made a huge mistake, Lara Logan of "60 Minutes" has done the best thing possible.

She apologized.

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Logan went on Friday's edition of "CBS This Morning" and apologized profusely for a completely compromised report about Benghazi that aired on Oct. 27. CBS plans to air another apology and retraction in Sunday's edition of "60 Minutes" (6 p.m. Ch. 2).

Is it enough?

Unfortunately, no. And not just because the apology should have come several days earlier, after it became obvious the "60 Minutes" story was so seriously flawed it wasn't a story at all.

The Oct. 27 report leaned almost entirely on the "eyewitness account" by security contractor Dylan Davies, who said he witnessed the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. Davies, using the pseudonym Morgan Jones, talked about scaling the wall of the U.S compound, battling attackers and seeing Stevens' body in a Benghazi hospital.

He accused U.S. State Department officials of negligence and worse.

And now it appears that he was lying. He gave his employers a different account of what happened, which Logan said he revealed up front. But he also gave the FBI an account that bore little resemblance to what he said on TV.

"The most important thing to every person at '60 Minutes' is the truth, and the truth is we made a mistake," Logan said on Friday.

Making matters worse, Davies' book about what he alleges happened in Benghazi is set to be published by Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS.

"We take the vetting of sources and stories very seriously at '60 Minutes,' and we took it seriously in this case, but we were misled," Logan said.

Admitting you made a mistake is Step 1, but it can't stop there. Journalists make mistakes. We quote people who turn out not to be telling the truth, whether willfully or inadvertently.

But this isn't your average story. This is a story that caused Republicans in the House and Senate to once again call the Obama Administration liars. To threaten punitive action in Congress.

If Logan isn't fired, she has to be suspended. So do the producers who worked the story.

No, CBS isn't the only one to make this mistake. Fox News has admitted that it used Davies as a source for its reporting on Benghazi, and no one has been suspended or fired there. For that matter, Fox News hasn't issued a retraction or an apology.

But "60 Minutes" has to hold itself to a far higher standard than Fox News. This is the most credible TV newsmagazine in the business, and this seriously damages its credibility.

An apology is a great step. But it's not the only step that needs to be taken.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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