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Politico Swallows NYT Farcical Reporting

Politico, trying to find a juicy angle on the latest chapter in the Benghazi saga, asks the arrogant question “Could the New York Times have saved ’60 Minutes’?” They are referring, of course, to “60 Minutes’” infamous use of charlatan Dylan Davies as a source when he did not, in fact, scale the compound wall the night of the attacks, nor see Ambassador Chris Stevens’ body in a Libyan hospital.

Davies was outed by Washington Post sleuthing, and then by the New York Times, which spoke with the FBI about Davies. The FBI confirmed that this bad source had told them that he did not step foot inside the compound on September 12, 2012.

Interestingly enough, CBS found that the “60 Minutes” team had, in fact, talked to the FBI and Blue Mountain about Davies, and this raised no red flags at the time.

“The New York Times was partly responsible for taking down ’60 Minutes’ in November after its botched Benghazi segment, but it also could have saved the program had the Times run its exhaustive new report on the attacks in Benghazi when it was first ready this summer,” reports Hadas Gold for Politico. David Kirkpatrick’s controversial article was ready, apparently, around June 30 of this year.

Gold finds that Lara Logan’s assertion that al Qaeda was involved in the attacks to be “shoddy” at best. He cites CBS News Executive Director of Standards and Practices Al Ortiz’s journalistic review, which states: “While Logan had multiple sources and good reasons to have confidence in them, her assertions that Al Qaeda carried out the attack and controlled the hospital were not adequately attributed in her report.”

Criticizing inadequate attribution of sources is not exactly admitting that Logan’s decision to point to al Qaeda’s connection to the attacks was a “shoddy assertion.” The recent New York Times report–which says that al Qaeda wasn’t involved at all–is clearly coloring Gold’s perspective, irrevocably.

“Had the Times published Kirkpatrick’s report when it was finished, an exhaustive article showing no Al Qaeda involvement would’ve been out in public in a much stronger way than it was prior to ’60 Minutes’ airing its segment,” writes Gold. “It’s not hard to imagine that the Times article would have changed the ’60 Minutes’ segment, as the show would have presumably dealt with the Times report in its segment.”

Logan may have used a bad source–but the New York Times story is a farce. Roger Aronoff, Editor of Accuracy in Media, and I, explain in our latest column how the Gray Lady got her reporting wrong, and that there is sundry evidence to suggest that al Qaeda was involved in the Benghazi, Libya attacks of last year. For example:

  • An August 2012 Library of Congress counterterrorism report strongly connects Ansar al Sharia to al Qaeda, calling it the  “tip of the iceberg.”
  • CIA officials connected the attacks to al Qaeda on September 14, 2012, according to emails released by the Administration.
  • The Daily Beast points to the Jamal Network. “Some fighters who attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi are believed to be from a group headed by a former top lieutenant to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda,” writes Eli Lake.
  • Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said that he doesn’t think the Times’ reporting is complete.
  • Fox News quotes a number of witnesses to the attacks who contradict the Gray Lady’s reporting.

The New York Times Editorial Board is standing by its story, characterizing–as is typical–this as a “Republican” attempt to undermine Times reporting.

David Kirkpatrick is the New York Times Cairo Bureau chief. He’s not the only one associated with Cairo reporting that we should blame the video and call this, at least in part, spontaneous.

You can read more about the Kirkpatrick story here, or my other article covering McClatchy News’ misreporting on al Qaeda’s role in the attacks.

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