“I am just a little man against some big people here.”
— Alleged Benghazi eyewitness Dylan Davies, to The Daily Beast, lamenting the skepticism he’s received since his interview with 60 Minutes
Right. The problem is that you’re daring to tell the story the U.S. government doesn’t want people to know. It’s not, you know, that the story you’re now telling is completely different from the original story you told in the aftermath of the attack, the one that put you nowhere near the embassy compound in Benghazi as it was under siege.
If there’s credible information about Benghazi that has yet to come out that proves that it’s anything more than a tragedy in search of a scandal, I’m more than willing to hear it — as we all should be. But the fact that 60 Minutes seems to have based its big scoop almost entirely on the word of a guy whose only defense against criticism is to say, basically, “I was lying then but I’m not lying now,” makes the whole thing stink to high heaven.
Personally, Davies has nothing at all to lose by grossly exaggerating his role in the Benghazi incident to the point of making a story up out of whole cloth, and he knows it. He also knows that being called on the glaring discrepancies in his two accounts will only make him more of a hero to the right and a fixture at conservative media outlets, since he gets to claim persecuted whistleblower status and hold himself up as a victim of a liberal media witch hunt. That means more copies of his memoirs sold and more paid appearances scheduled (he already hit Fox News up for money but, to the network’s credit, had all communication broken off).
We expect to be bamboozled by opportunists looking to cash in. The bigger question is how the venerable 60 Minutes may have allowed this one to get away with doing it. The show is an icon of journalism for a reason; it should have vetted Davies better or publicly confronted him with the discrepancies in his story before putting him out there as some kind of bombshell revelation. If they can show proof his original story was a fabrication, then they’ve got something.
As Kelly McBride, who teaches ethics at the Poynter Institute, says: “What they should have acknowledged was the fact that he wrote a report saying that he wasn’t at the site. They should have acknowledge that … they either didn’t know about it or they failed to anticipate that critics would use this as a way of tearing down their story.”
If 60 Minutes didn’t know that there was potential contradictory evidence out there before running their story, that makes them borderline incompetent. If they knew there was potential contradictory evidence to their story and just hoped no one would bring it up — that makes them unethical (and really stupid).
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.