Last night, Anderson Cooper revealed that CNN obtained Ambassador Christopher Stevens’s personal journal after the attack on the Benghazi embassy that resulted in his death, and admitted to having used it as a previously un-cited source in the network’s reporting of the incident. The admission seems to have been prompted by a tip made to the Huffington Post, a reporter for who “reached out” to the network on Friday afternoon to ask about the journal. (According to HuffPo, “CNN had no immediate comment, but referred to Cooper’s comments after they aired.”)
Cooper seems to have referred to the journal’s contents on his Wednesday show, when he repeatedly mentioned “a source familiar with Ambassador Stevens’s thinking” who told the network that “in the months before his death he talked about being worried about the never-ending security threats that he was facing in Benghazi and specifically about the rise in Islamic extremism and growing Al Qaeda presence.” Cooper added that the source “also mentioned [Stevens] being on an Al Qaeda hit list.”
In his Friday explanation, Cooper said CNN had “reported what we found newsworthy” in the journal, described as “seven pages of handwriting in a hard-bound book.” A later post to the CNN website said the “tips” found in the journal were “corroborated with other sources” during reporting, and repeated Cooper’s original statements about “a source familiar with Ambassador Stevens’ thinking” telling the network about the Ambassador’s concerns (which suggests that the source was not just Stevens’s own writing.) Still, neither Cooper nor the network explained why the journal’s existence had not been previously mentioned, though they did say it had been returned to Stevens’s family.