60 Minutes Punked on Benghazi

The Embassy HouseAs I discussed this last week, the Benghazi “scandal” is back in the news because of a really terrible bit of reporting by 60 Minutes. It was based primarily on claims made by Dylan Davies (referred to in the report as Morgan Jones as though he really has to worry about retaliation). I’ve been amused by a number of reporters being surprised that he managed to luck out and get the 60 Minutes interview the same week his book on the same subject came out, The Embassy House. Do they really not know how books are publicized? Just to be clear: 60 Minutes ran its story because the book was coming out this week.

But there is more than yet another writer using 60 Minutes to sell his book. Karen DeYoung at the Washington Post got hold of Davies’ report to his employers. This was submitted three days after the Benghazi attack and it paints quite a different picture. In it, there is no scaling of 12-foot walls and no knocking out of terrorists. There is mostly just, I was unable to get to the compound because the roadblocks. Davies is supposedly sick, but his ghostwriter was around to speculate that the real lie must have been the report he filed. He said that Davies probably just said that because his supervisors told him not to go to the compound.

There is another possibility, of course. Davies could be lying now. I don’t say this just because he’s pushing a book that he undoubtedly got paid quite a lot for. Everyone who can seems to be selling out; that alone doesn’t make them liars. What I find more suspicious is how Davies paints himself as a fucking Rambo in this book. His superiors said to stay away. But there were people in trouble. So without a thought to his own safety, he rushed to the compound, scaled the wall, defeated a terrorist, and was an eyewitness to history! Give me a very big break.

Regardless what you think of this guy, you have to question his veracity. After all, lying on a two and a half page official report is not the kind of everyday lying that people do. And there are details in the report. For example, in the book he say that he made an unauthorized trip to the hospital to view Christopher Stevens’ body. Ah, another clandestine operation for our Rambo Does Benghazi narrative! But according to DeYoung, in the report he provided a much less exciting version, “He learned of Stevens’s death, Davies wrote, when a Libyan colleague who had been at the hospital came to the villa to show him a cellphone picture of the ambassador’s blackened corpse. Davies wrote that he visited the still-smoking compound the next day to view and photograph the destruction.”

None of this especially matters. Benghazi is still a non-story. And the revelations that Davies is probably a guy trying to be in fantasy that soldier he never was in fact doesn’t matter to the Republicans in Congress:

“Outside his narrative of his own individual actions that night, [Davies’s] information about key Benghazi events appeared consistent with a well-established consensus of an inadequate security posture,” said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

So it doesn’t matter if Davies is a liar, his story agrees with the narrative we are pushing, so it’s all good. But the Republicans didn’t need any of this. They just make it up as it goes along. But how far the mighty 60 Minutes (which is standing by the story) has fallen. It is a totally irrelevant “news” program unless you want a heads up on the next week’s big books and television series.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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