CBS News hired a Hillary Clinton operative to advise on Benghazi coverage

CBS News hired a Hillary Clinton operative to advise on Benghazi coverage

lara logan benghazi

Just a couple of hours ago I posted on a new Gallup poll that shows the public widely and deeply mistrusts the media. The Weekly Standard reports on a huge conflict of interest that is developing concerning CBS News.

In March, an investigation by ProPublica and Gawker revealed that a “secret spy network” that was not on the State Department payroll, run by longtime Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, was “funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State’s private account starting before the Benghazi attack.” Now the WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA’s clandestine service in Europe who was working directly with Blumenthal as a member of Clinton’s spy network, was concurrently working as a consultant to CBS News and its venerable news program 60 Minutes.

Drumheller was (past tense because he had the foresight to die in August as the Hillary email scandal was heating up) at Ground Zero of Hillary’s email scandal as he was the obvious source of some of Sid Blumenthal’s “intelligence” briefs and probable recipient of secret information from Hillary.

As The Weekly Standard goes on to point out, the fact that Drumheller was a wannabe political player, intimately entwined with Sid Blumenthal whose life-mission seems to be playing Renfield to Hillary’s Dracula, and factually unreliable was well known when CBS brought him on board.

According to The Weekly Standard, Drumheller helped shape the Benghazi coverage to minimize the role of al Qaeda and maximize the role of the bogus YouTube-only video. Then Lara Logan and 60 Minutes started working on an investigative piece that hit the al Qaeda angle hard.

Multiple WEEKLY STANDARD sources told us that Drumheller played an active role in shaping the most controversial CBS News report since Rathergate, correspondent Lara Logan’s now retracted 60 Minutes report on Benghazi. The report focused on the story of “Morgan Jones” (whose real name was Dylan Davies), a military contractor who was allegedly present for the attack on Benghazi. Jones’s account told a tale of fighting bravely and vainly to rescue the men in the embassy under attack, and reinforced the narrative that the U.S. government could have done more to save the men who died that night. However, after 60 Minutes’s Benghazi report aired on October 27, 2013, it soon emerged that Davies’s story did not match up with State Department reports or the account of his actions that night he gave to his employer, private security firm Blue Mountain Group.

But the story is a lot more complicated than a mere failure of fact checking…something that is not a stranger to 60 Minutes reporting. It seems as though that once the story was set in motion, that Drumheller was involved in ensuring it would be discredited.

Though CBS has said the segment was a year in the making, the book, which Logan and McClellan had obtained in late spring 2013, would become the majority of the broadcast. Which is why it was unusual that the weekend the report aired, four months after getting the book, the 60 Minutes staff treated it like a breaking-news story being assembled in haste, working after hours to get it ready.

[Executive Producer of 60 Minutes Jeff] Fager delegated the details of vetting the piece to [60 Minutes executive editor Bill] Owens, whom he’d groomed to be his successor at 60 Minutesbut whom some CBS colleagues felt was stretched thin by his duties. Because of the short deadline, and because it was a book by a sister company, 60 Minutes’ usual fact-checking procedures were not followed. No calls were made to the State Department or the FBI specifically to vet Davies’s claims.

Back to The Weekly Standard:

The two key facts here are that Logan and 60 Minutes had been working on a Benghazi report for six months prior to abruptly making the focus of the report Dylan Davies, and that fact-checking procedures were ignored and no calls were made to the State Department or FBI to vet the claims.

So after the piece is underway the focus suddenly becomes not al Qaeda but this much more telegenic version told by Dylan Davies. Fact checking had been delegated to Bill Owens. Bill Owens was, according to The Weekly Standard, a close friend of Drumheller.

The piece airs and who cries foul?

Finally, Media Matters  — which again, was helping to pay Blumenthal’s salary — was quite aggressive in pushing back against the report after it initially aired. The New York Times singled out the organization led by David Brock and closely associated with the Clintons as the leading voice demanding 60 Minutes correct its report. While tenaciously defending the Clintons is much of what Media Matters does, their aggressive posture does raise questions about whether they had advance knowledge of problems with 60 Minutes’s report.

As The Weekly Standard notes, the Clinton machine seems to have been watching the Benghazi story closely:

Outwardly, it appears Clintonworld was invested in the Benghazi media narrative well through 2013 and had been largely successful at minimizing the blame directed at the State Department. (State Department officials also appear to have been sources for the New York magazine piece on Lara Logan.) For a long time the media seemed to be spinning a narrative favorable to the Obama administration. On December 28, 2013 — just two months after Logan’s report aired — the New York Times would declare that “months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.” The Times’s December report, along with the discrediting of Logan’s report that dominated the news in November, would be used as a powerful cudgel against those critical of the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi. (A year later in November 2014, the House Intelligence Committee would release a report confirming al Qaeda’s involvement in the Benghazi attack, and the New York Times quietly altered its coverage to accept this fact.) In that context, a 60 Minutes report undercutting this wrongly accepted version of events had to be perceived as politically threatening to the guardians of Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions.

So we have a Blumenthal associate to points Lara Logan’s team to an account that was probably known to be questionable. No fact checking was done of the story even though Dylan Davies had already told different stories to his employer and the FBI. The piece air and Blumenthal sponsor, Media Matters, suddenly jumps on the piece as inaccurate. Once that piece is retracted, other media quickly jump on the bandwagon; they alter their coverage to reflect the preferred Clinton narrative and discredit the terrorism angle for over a year.

Nothing to see here folks, just your professional, dispassionate and totally impartial media at work.


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