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Sun Nov 10, 2013, 10:18 PM

 

From A Former Producer Of 60 Minutes - FDL

60 Minutes Benghazi Fiasco: There could have been so many more!
By: Barry Lando - FDL
Sunday November 10, 2013 1:48 am

<snip>

The embarrassing flap resulting from the 60 Minutes report on Benghazi—broadcasting a sensational interview with a security officer, Dylan Davies, an apparently totally trustworthy, convincing source, who later turned out to be a con artist–makes me shudder.

I recall the number of times during my thirty years as a producer with 60 Minutes when I only narrowly missed being caught in the same kind of devastating, career-shattering trap. But first, what does it mean to be a producer at 60 Minutes? Each report on the show has “produced by” written on the art work introducing it, but most viewers have no clue what “produced by” really entails.

Indeed, the great irony of 60 Minutes is a question of truth in packaging. That is, 60 Minutes, which prides itself on ruthless truth telling, exposing cant and fraud, is in itself, something of a charade.

The fact is that, although the viewers tune in to watch the on-going exploits of Lara, Morley, Bob, etc. etc., most of the intrepid reporting, writing, and even many of the most probing questions posed in the interviews, are not the handiwork of the stars, but much more the effort of teams of producers. associate producers, and researchers–who actually sift through and report the stories that the stars present–as their own exploits–each Sunday night.

The stars who pull down the seven figure salaries. But, it’s the producers and their assistants who are, far more than the stars, also responsible for checking out the veracity of those reports.

That’s a daunting task. Most investigative reports on 60 Minutes (or anywhere else) are usually told in terms of black and white, the bad guys vs. the good guys. The problem is most of life is played out in shades of grey. When you start digging into any supposed scandal you usually find that the bad guy is not all that bad; the good guy not all that good, and often the supposed villain is not really a villain at all. Or, as the former City Editor of the old Chicago Herald American, Harry Romanoff, famously said, “If you dig deep enough, any story collapses.”

Usually producers and correspondents recognize when they arrive at that point, and drop the project. But not always. Particularly when the devastating revelation occurs after you have already committed several weeks and tens of thousands of dollars to a report. It’s then that blowing the whistle is most painful, and the temptation to continue, in spite of what you have uncovered, the greatest. In addition to that is the constant pressure to be turning out “sensational pieces”; the rivalry, not just with other news shows, but, even more pronounced, among the producers and correspondents of 60 Minutes themselves.

There’s plenty of ammunition for error...

<snip>

More: http://my.firedoglake.com/barrylando/2013/11/10/60-minutes-benghazi-fiasco-there-could-have-been-so-many-more/


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