CBS is in for a rough few days as it starts walking back a dramatic 60 Minutes interview in which a security officer hired to protect the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi described racing to the compound during the attack and hitting a militant in the face with a rifle butt as he tried to make his way in. But Dylan Davies, who went by the name Morgan Jones when he spoke with 60 Minutes’ Lara Logan — and published a book detailing U.S. security shortcomings at the facility — apparently told the FBI a different story. Now CBS has taken down its original interview, and says it’s reviewing Davies/Jones’s account, which would be embarrassing enough for the network even if it hadn’t already aggressively defended its original report.
Davies, who worked for a company called Blue Mountain, wrote in his book and told 60 Minutes that he’d raced to a hospital and then to the U.S. mission on the night of the attack. But last week, the Washington Post uncovered an incident report he’d submitted to Blue Mountain that said he’d spent most of the night in a villa he’d rented. “Although he attempted to get to the compound, he wrote in the report, ‘we could not get anywhere near . . . as roadblocks had been set up.’ ” He told The Daily Beast a few days later he had hadn’t written the report, and had lied to his employer to avoid getting in trouble for disobeying orders to stay put.
After the Blue Mountain report contradicting Davies’s account emerged, 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager told the Huffington Post that CBS had “confidence that our sources, including those who appeared on 60 Minutes, told accurate versions of what happened that night.” Logan attributed the criticism of the report to politics, while Fager said in a statement that “the account in my book is consistent with what I gave to the F.B.I. and U.S. authorities about what happened in Benghazi.”
But the network changed its position on Thursday, after the New York Times published a story citing an FBI interview that “was described Thursday by two senior government officials as completely consistent with an incident report by the Blue Mountain security business.” That seems to have resonated with CBS. It’s taken down the 60 Minutes video from its website, and posted the following statement (which is the only thing returned by a search on the site for “Morgan Jones” and “Benghazi”):
60 Minutes has learned of new information that undercuts the account told to us by Morgan Jones of his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound.
We are currently looking into this serious matter to determine if he misled us, and if so, we will make a correction.
It could still turn out that Morgan’s account was defensible enough to stand by, but the fact that CBS preemptively took the video down does not suggest it has much confidence in that outcome.