Articles about "60 Minutes"

Stop watch

’60 Minutes’ apologizes for overdubbing sound in Tesla story

Associated Press | Jalopnik

CBS News said an engineer made an “audio error” by “dubbing the sound of a loud traditional car engine over footage of the much quieter Tesla electric car in a story that aired Sunday,” AP reports.

Spokesman Kevin Tedesco said Tuesday that the loud car audio has been edited out of the online version of the story on Tesla founder Elon Musk. Anchor Scott Pelley reported the story, and CBS said he wasn’t aware of the added audio ahead of time.

Robert Sorokanich wrote in Jalopnik that the story “definitely includes motor noises that definitely don’t come from a Tesla.”

Here’s the CBS story:

In December “60 Minutes” drew some criticism for a soft-focus report on the NSA by John Miller. In November it said it had placed correspondent Lara Logan on leave following a botched report on Benghazi. Read more

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CBS News: Bill Whitaker’s new job ‘has nothing to do’ with Lara Logan

News & Record | Politico

We got to wondering when correspondent Lara Logan would be back at “60 Minutes” when we read an item in the (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record reporting that Lesley Stahl would replace Logan at Guilford College’s Bryan Series lecture on April 8.

Logan was suspended in November along with producer Max McClellan after an internal report called her Oct. 27 story on Benghazi “deficient in several respects.”

Politico’s Dylan Byers reported in December that Logan and McClellan were set to be back on the program “early next year,” although CBS had not scheduled a return date.

News that Bill Whitaker will be joining “60 Minutes” also fueled speculation on our part that he could be Logan’s replacement.

Kevin Tedesco, CBS News/60 Minutes communications executive director, cut that short in an email to Poynter:

Lara is still on a leave of absence and Bill Whitaker’s appointment has nothing to do with her.

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Stop watch

’60 Minutes’ reporter didn’t want NSA story to be ‘a puff piece’

“60 Minutes”

In an interview with “60 Minutes Overtime” producer Ann Silvio, John Miller talks about his intentions with “60 Minutes”‘ two-part NSA story, which ran Sunday. Miller said the disclosure that he used to work in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was important, but “You also don’t want this to be a puff piece.”

I think we asked the hardest questions we could ask. And part of this is not to go there and show you can beat up a public official in an interview. I have been beat up as a public official in interviews, and I have beaten up public officials in interviews. Our job this time was to take the hardest questions we could find and ask them, ‘What’s the answer to it,’ and then spend a couple of minutes listening. Because this is really the side of the story that has been mined only in the most superficial ways. We’ve heard plenty from the critics. We’ve heard a lot from Edward Snowden. Where there’s been a distinctive shortage is, putting the NSA to the test and saying not just ‘We called for comment today’ but to get into the conversation and say that sounds a lot like spying on Americans, and then say, ‘Well, explain that.’”

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Time: ‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi apology nearly as good as Rob Ford’s


CBS News’ retraction of “60 Minutes”‘ big Benghazi story is No. 4 on Time’s list of the year’s best apologies: “Logan issued two on-air apologies on CBS This Morning Nov. 8 and on 60 Minutes Nov. 10, though media watchdogs said the mea culpa should have explained how the program failed to see all sides of the story.”

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s apology for smoking crack came in a little higher.

Time’s year end Top 10 Everything in 2013 package also takes a few more looks at journalism:

TOP 10 OVERREPORTED STORIES – NO. 4, Wendy Davis’s shoes:

Never mind that for 11 hours Texas State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered a controversial bill that she and other critics insisted would close all but five of the state’s abortion clinics. Instead, Look at her shoes! Just look at those things! They’re pink and stylish and, seriously, they look really comfortable.

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Correspondent Lara Logan of "60 Minutes" is on a leave of absence following an internal review by CBS News of her story on the Benghazi embassy attack. (AP Photo/Robert Spencer)

CBS memos suggest Logan had bias, but don’t say why no one addressed it

The CBS memos from Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News, and Al Ortiz, executive director of standards and practices, suggest that correspondent Lara Logan had a preconceived bias that prevented her from fully vetting her source before airing his story about the attack on the Benghazi embassy compound that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

But the leaked memos don’t explain why Logan’s superiors allowed her to pursue the story in the first place and why others at CBS didn’t compensate for her potential blind spots.

CBS announced the unspecified leave of absence for Logan and her producer Max McClellan. The Huffington Post ran memos from both Fager and Ortiz. Ortiz offered a summary of CBS’ findings that included these points:

  • It was possible to know that Dylan Davies’ account to the FBI was inconsistent with what he told CBS.
  • Logan and McClellan did not try to tap into the wider resources at CBS to get at the FBI information.
  • That Logan had good sources for her claim that Al Qaeda was behind the attack but that she didn’t cite them in the story.
  • That Logan’s public assertion more than a year earlier that the U.S. government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda indicated that she had created a conflict that should have precluded her from further reporting on the story.

Ortiz doesn’t specifically say that Logan’s bias is to blame, but he strongly implies it. The summary also doesn’t say why Logan and McClellan didn’t do more to check out Davies’ story, how they explain that failure, or why the broader system within CBS didn’t kick in to rescue the reporting team from their blind spots.

Fager states in his memo, “I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.”

It’s a bit unsatisfying that CBS can’t answer these questions. A news organization can’t possibly remove the blind spots from every staff member. Instead, the key is to create a system that identifies biases and compensates for them. It’s not so bad that Logan had a preconceived notion of what went wrong. What’s bad is that she didn’t use her extensive reporting skills to confirm what she thought were facts. And what’s worse is that the newsroom systems of editing and fact-checking didn’t kick in to force her to do so.

Logan’s original “60 Minutes” report had two significant elements. The first part of the report reviewed previous assertions that Stevens and his staff had expressed concerns over the security situation in Benghazi. The second element was Davies’ unique (and questionable) account of the attack that night.

We now know that Davies’ dramatic account of the attack is at best suspicious. But we don’t know whether to dismiss his and others’ claims about what happened before the attack. Because Davies’ turns out to be such an unreliable source, and because the political rhetoric around the attack and the U.S. military’s response to it has been so explosive, it is virtually impossible for the average citizen to sort out what happened and who was or wasn’t doing their jobs.

CBS’ high-profile failure on this story further clouds an already murky conversation in the public marketplace of ideas.

This is the real consequence of reporting failures. In a politically charged debate, where opinion peddlers are constantly making assertions about what happened and who was responsible, the possibility of grasping the truth slips away for the average citizen.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained an incorrect spelling for Max McClellan’s name. Read more

Correspondent Lara Logan from "60 Minutes" agreed to take a leave of absence after an internal CBS News review found her story on Benghazi was "deficient." (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

CBS News review: Benghazi story was ‘deficient in several respects’

The Huffington Post

“60 Minutes” reporter Lara Logan and producer Max McClellan will “take a leave of absence,” CBS News chairman Jeff Fager tells staffers in a memo obtained by The Huffington Post. “60 Minutes” failed to “take full advantage of the reporting abilities of CBS News that might have prevented” its botched Benghazi report from happening, Fager writes.

CBS News later confirmed the HuffPost report in its own story posted Tuesday.

HuffPost also has a summary of Al Ortiz’ review of the segment, which Ortiz says “was deficient in several respects.” “60 Minutes” source Dylan Davies’ admission to CBS “that he had not told his employer the truth about his own actions – should have been a red flag in the editorial vetting process,” Ortiz writes. Further, Logan “made a speech in which she took a strong public position arguing that the US Government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda, and urging actions that the US should take in response to the Benghazi attack” last October, Ortiz notes. That’s “a conflict,” Ortiz says.

Previously: 60 Minutes apologizes for botched Benghazi report: A timeline | How the ’60 Minutes’ Benghazi debacle is similar, different than Rathergate | ’60 Minutes’ apology shows CBS News is ‘not used to the openness of the new environment’ | Al Tompkins: “CBS explained nothing” Read more


Restoring trust after big mistakes like CBS’ Benghazi whopper

When a newsroom makes a big mistake, it’s a sign that something in its newsgathering process went awry. With trust between journalists and the audience they serve so fragile, it’s crucial that newsrooms take significant and swift action after major mistakes.

In this chat, we’ll talk about what CBS could do after significant doubts emerged about the veracity of a source used in its 60 Minutes’ story on the U.S. compound attack in Benghazi.

Keep reading to explore how corrections and clarifications can be among the best tools (in addition to accuracy) for establishing and maintaining audience trust.

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’60 Minutes’ apology shows CBS News is ‘not used to the openness of the new environment’

PBS NewsHour

On PBS NewsHour Tuesday night, Poynter’s Kelly McBride and the American Press Institute’s Tom Rosenstiel talked with Jeffrey Brown about “60 Minutes” recently apologizing for its Benghazi reporting.

“CBS deserves credit for admitting that they made a mistake,” Rosenstiel said. “That’s unusual in broadcast.” But CBS’ apology didn’t outline exactly what it had done wrong, he said.

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Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather poses on the roof of an office building overlooking New York's Times Square, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

How the ’60 Minutes’ Benghazi debacle is similar, different than Rathergate

A lying source, a failure to properly vet him, and critical information that turned out to be unsupportable.

That appears to be the core of the “60 Minutes” Benghazi debacle that led to an on-air apology from correspondent Lara Logan and will be followed by another one on tonight’s broadcast.

It’s also a summary of events that could easily apply to the famed and discredited 2004 Bush National Guard records story aired by “60 Minutes II” just before that year’s presidential election.

The two incidents share some core characteristics, but they also differ in interesting ways. That they both happened at the same news organization — and under the “60 Minutes” banner — is notable in itself.

What’s Similar

Failure of a key source. Both times, there was a single source that set off the key reporting. In the Benghazi example, the show needed to verify that Dylan Davies is who he says he is and did the job in Libya he says he did. Then they needed to dig into his story about the attack and try to poke holes in it, or see if it could stand up.

With the National Guard story, there was a a single source, Bill Burkett, who provided documents that were the basis of the report.

Again, there is the matter of the source, Burkett, and the content he provided.

In both cases, the sources came with serious baggage, and the content they provided was even more dubious.

Not checking the source. Among a list of critical mistakes made back in 2004, the independent report commissioned by CBS News cited “The failure of 60 Minutes Wednesday management to scrutinize the publicly available, and at times controversial, background of the source of the documents, retired Texas Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett.”

With Davies, “60 Minutes” did some looking into their key source.

“We verified and confirmed that he was who he said he was,” Logan said this week.

They had the right guy in that he had worked where he said he did. But there’s one particularly troubling aspect of Davies: he is an admitted liar. (He was also a source who wanted money for his story, according to Fox News’ Adam Housley.)

Davies had set himself up well to fool “60 Minutes,” too. He knew that they could go to his employer and possibly get information from them about what happened the night of the attack, and whether Davies was at the compound as he claimed.

So he told CBS News that he’d lied to his employer. It seemed to make the folks at the broadcast think he was trustworthy for having told them he’d lied before.

“Always part of his narrative to us from the beginning was, ‘I told my boss that I didn’t go and I did,’” CBS News chairman and executive producer of “60 Minutes” Jeff Fager told Michael Calderone of The Huffington Post.

Then there was the question of the FBI, who had interviewed Davies after the fact about what happened that night. Perhaps Davies assumed the FBI wouldn’t just hand over details of that discussion to “60 Minutes” in order to help them check his story. Maybe he took a chance that “60 Minutes” would not ask the FBI. (Read Dylan Byers in Politico for a look at this FBI aspect.)

Or maybe his lies had gotten him far enough that he wasn’t making these kind of calculations anymore. After all, he had a book coming out that needed promoting…

Bottom line: If you have a source who tells you he is a liar, you better not think he won’t lie to you. Bulletproof everything he says. And if there are pieces you can’t confirm, you stack that up against the fact that he is a liar.

Not checking the information. “We spent more than a year reporting our story about the attack on Benghazi, which aired on Oct. 27, speaking with close to 100 sources in the process,” Fager told Calderone.

Great. But did they see the FBI interview with Davies? No. Did they get the incident report filed with his employer? The answer also appears to be no. What about other people at the compound that night? Did anyone say they saw him there? No, because no one could have.

Talking to 100 people is great. But none of them had the information needed to verify Davies’ story. Or “60 Minutes” was asking the wrong questions.

Here are two similar problems highlighted in the commissioned report about what happened in 2004:

  • “The failure to find and interview the individual who was understood at the outset to be Lieutenant Colonel Burkett’s source of the Killian documents, and thus to establish the chain of custody;
  • “The failure to interview a range of former National Guardsmen who served with Lieutenant Colonel Killian and who had different perspectives about the documents”.

The “60 Minutes II” team did send the documents out to experts for independent verification. But they failed to “obtain clear authentication of any of the Killian documents from any document examiner …”.

Circling the wagons. The response came quickly both in 2004 and this week: we stand by our reporting. 

In the wake of reports that raised serious questions about Davies’ story, Fager told The Huffington Post they were “proud” of the piece, and stood by their sources.

It was even more so back in 2004. They held firm and rebutted criticisms on the “Evening News”.

For a full accounting of CBS News’ initial refusal to respond to the criticism this time, read Jay Rosen’s post from today, “Will CBS News apologize for the reckless denials before its Benghazi story collapsed?”

No internal accountability. Back in 2004, CBS News had no ombudsman, no internal watchdog that reported publicly. For a while, following a recommendation from the independent review of Rathergate, CBS ran a nice blog called CBS Public Eye. It aimed to bring transparency to the news operation, and a measure of accountability. It was killed off less than three years later.

As a result, there is no one at CBS News charged with getting answers to the most important questions, or anyone who can reasonably force the “60 Minutes” folks to address them. Fager has done some interviews, but he has not answered questions such as why the program wasn’t able to check what Davies was telling them against what he’d told his employer and the FBI.

What’s Different

Speed. The cycle was faster this time — less than a week from airing to apology.

In 2004, Dan Rather and CBS News president Andrew Heyward didn’t apologize until 12 days after the “60 Minutes II” story first aired. (Rather’s statement is here.)

Another element of speed was that the “60 Minutes II” report aired not long after the reporting team gained possession of the Killian documents.

That segment was rushed to air, as noted in the independent review of the debacle. It cited one major problem as, “The failure to have a vetting process capable of dealing effectively with the production speed, significance and sensitivity of the Segment.”

So, in 2004, CBS News rushed the segment to air, but dragged its feet — and made many inaccurate and misleading statements — when questions were raised.

This time, according to Fager, they took their time with the piece. (Remember: “We spent more than a year reporting our story about the attack on Benghazi, which aired on Oct. 27, speaking with close to 100 sources in the process.”)

More time for reporting, but same result…

So, what made CBS News brass admit their mistakes faster? I think two factors played a role:

1. The big pushback came from media peers. Yes, Media Matters was on the story right away, and that’s somewhat similar to the kind of partisan criticism that occurred with the National Guard story. But this time the big blows came swiftly from two established news organizations: The Washington Post and The New York Times. If you’re Jeff Fager, the head of CBS News, and you see two major organizations like that punching big holes in your story, you don’t have much of a choice.

2. The elements in dispute were easier to check. The Killian documents required areas of expertise that are typically not present on a newsroom: signature analysis, document authentication, etc. In 2004, the CBS News view was: “You have your experts (on some silly blog), and we have ours.” This time, The New York Times reported that the FBI interview with Davies was not consistent with what he told “60 Minutes,” and inside CBS News, jaws drop. As Fager said: “So I think that, for us, that was the moment — and that was the moment we turned instantly. It wasn’t like we had a big debate about it. That for us said it all. We fully expected the FBI report would coincide with what he told us.”

Corporate tie-in. Davies’ book was being published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster, a subsidiary of CBS. It’s common these days to see “60 Minutes” and other CBS programs give attention to upcoming titles from its sister company. 

Do you get on “60 Minutes” just because your book is with S&S? No. But it helps, and there is usually a basic (if not more specific) effort to make connections so that CBS programs can have a good crack at S&S authors. 

A major problem with the story is that the original broadcast did not mention the corporate tie-in. This is another thing “60 Minutes” has had to apologize for. 

The 2004 story had no such element.

The lack of disclosure in the broadcast plus the inadequate nature of the vetting done by “60 Minutes” creates the impression that, in spite of a year of reporting with 100 sources, this story was sloppily done in several ways.

What Remains

Tonight, we get another apology on the program. Will it detail efforts made to get information from the FBI? Will it explain how Davies was vetted, and where that process fell down? Will it explain why the network brushed off legitimate concerns before The New York Times report? And on and on…

There remain many unanswered questions. You have to be skeptical that “60 Minutes” itself is going to be the ones to ask and answer them after having thus far avoided them.

The clock is ticking…

Related: Mapes: Decision to Air National Guard Story Was Made by CBS Superiors, Including Heyward

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Lara Logan

Update: A Season of Remarkable Apologies

Editor’s Note: This story was updated following Sunday night’s “60 Minutes.”

We have just witnessed one heck of a string of remarkable public apologies. And all of them fell flat for different reasons.

We’ve gotten apologies from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama and the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford — and now, CBS’s venerable “60 Minutes” finds itself apologizing for hanging a story on the reputation of a source who lied about his actions on the night of the attack on a U.S. embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya.

CBS took two swings at the apology, once Friday morning and again Sunday night. Anybody who hoped the Sunday night version of the apology might explain how America’s favorite news program went so far off track was sorely disappointed. There was no explanation, there was no assurance of how this kind of thing would not happen again, there was nothing except an apology buried in the last moments of the program.

So let’s look at this sorry week of regrets as case studies of how to apologize and how not to.

The Ruined Apology

Toronto Mayor Ford didn’t cough up an apology until he had denied wrongdoing again and again. When he did finally blurt out the truth, he said, “So I wasn’t lying, you didn’t ask the correct questions.” Hours later, he tried again, this time actually apologizing: “With today’s announcement I know I embarrassed everyone in the city and I will be forever sorry. There is only one person to blame for this, and that is myself. I know that admitting my mistake was the right thing to do.”

Twenty-four hours later, that apology was ruined by a newly released video of the mayor threatening to kill somebody during a drunken rage. Nothing says contrite like a death threat. He apologized for that one, too.

The ‘Save My Job’ Apology

What can you say when you are the head of the federal agency that was supposed to launch Obamacare signups, one of the crowning achievements of a presidential administration, and you manage to sign up six — yes, six – people on the first day? Not 6,000 or 6 million, but six. You say, “I’m sorry.” But if you mean it, you say it on the day your agency makes the mistake, not almost a month later like Secretary Sebelius did.

The ‘Not Quite an Apology’ Apology

On Thursday, President Obama almost apologized for the Obamacare signup debacle. He told NBC’s Chuck Todd he regrets that some people have lost health-insurance coverage: “I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me.” That might be more of a “feeling of regret” than an actual “apology,” which usually includes some statement about what one did wrong and what one will do to correct it.

The Actual Apology

CBS News set the standard for how to apologize when Lara Logan went on the air Friday morning and said that “the most important thing to every person at ’60 Minutes’ is the truth, and today the truth is we made a mistake.” She went on to say: “It’s very disappointing for any journalist, it’s very disappointing for me. Nobody likes to admit they made a mistake, but if you do, you have to stand up and take responsibility and you have to say that you are wrong. And in this case, we were wrong.”

So far so good. Logan indicated on Friday that CBS would have more to say on Sunday. Maybe “60 Minutes” would show the depth of its contrition by leading the program with a retraction, a full examination of how it allowed Dylan Davies, the manager of Benghazi’s hired force of security guards, to hoodwink them. Davies had given different accounts of his whereabouts on the night of the attack in an “incident report” and in testimony to the FBI. Maybe “60 Minutes” would explain how it failed to notice that in October 2012 the Telegraph carried a report saying Darryl Davies, a very similar name, identified as the manager of the Benghazi contract, wasn’t even in the city on the night of the attack. Fox News reported the day after the “60 Minutes” report that it spoke with the same source, Davies, but cut him off when he asked for money.

And then there is the matter of the source’s book. CBS’s subsidiary was publishing a book written by Dylan Davies, a book that CBS mentioned while somehow leaving out the name of the publisher. CBS still has not explained why it didn’t mention the conflict of interest. Logan didn’t mention that conflict Sunday night. It was not for lack of time. The show had plenty of time to run what essentially was an advertisement for Go-Pro cameras earlier in the hour. Did the publishing arm influence CBS’s interest in the Davies’ story? Is that how they got access to him? It is the kind of question “60 Minutes” would ask of an interviewee it was grilling. But all of those answers will have to come from somebody else. CBS explained nothing.

The Ingredients of a Really Good Apology

Act Like You Really Mean It: I felt awful for Logan when I saw her apologizing Friday on CBS’s “This Morning.” She seemed sincere, didn’t play word games and didn’t dodge responsibility. The hosts asked her good questions and she answered them.  But when she offered an even less forthcoming and shorter apology Sunday night, it is difficult to take the “60 Minutes” apology seriously.

I was hoping Logan would confront Davies the way Ira Glass confronted that lying liar Mike Daisey when he misled “This American Life.” Glass dedicated an entire program to explaining how the story went so wrong.  Heck, Oprah Winfrey was tougher on another liar, author James Frey, who misled Oprah into endorsing his book. Oprah seethed and roasted Frey because she said she had been betrayed and as a result, she betrayed her viewers who bought Frey’s book. Oprah was tougher on Frey than “60 Minutes” has been on Davies. And remember, Davies’ comments quickly wound up in Congressional debate. This was no tiny lie. It is no tiny show. It is “60 Minutes.”

If you want people to believe you when you apologize, use active verbs.   President Obama ruined his “I am sorry people are finding themselves…” comment by using the wrong verb. Solid apologies include active verbs, not passive ones. “I screwed up” is different from “mistakes were made.”

I am also troubled by CBS’s decision to take the original story off the Internet. It is a way of sanitizing the problem. The public should be able to review how much of the “60 Minutes” story included the now-discredited source. Of course, the discredited story would have to be clearly labeled as such so the misinformation doesn’t live on.

Promise It Won’t Happen Again: Mayor Ford finally perfected his apologetic language when he said, “I want to be clear. I want to be crystal clear that every single person, these mistakes will never, ever, ever happen again.” But he didn’t take the second step of saying what he would do to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. President Obama and Secretary Sebelius can’t make the promise yet, so they will continue to get pounded.

Explain How You Will Fix Things: On Sunday, CBS could have explained what it intends to do to be certain it won’t get burned by a lying source again. It offered nothing.

Even Mayor Ford went further than CBS when he said he is “considering” treatment.

When we screw up in a big public way, the public wants solid proof or at least an explanation of what we will do to be sure the process in place won’t fail again. The public wants to know that we won’t keep screwing up.

Stop Making the Same Mistake: The public has a long history of forgiving mistakes. Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, David Letterman and John Lennon all rebounded from things they did or said once they apologized and took responsibility.  But you don’t get to keep making the same mistake again and again. Ask Anthony Weiner.

“60 Minutes” has the advantage of decades of extremely high performance in its favor. The only way it can hold others to a high level of scrutiny is if it allows itself to be held to that same standard.

President Obama says he takes “responsibility” for the Affordable Care Act debacle. That’s a start, but the problem isn’t fixed and he can’t run for re-election. So it is of little consequence for him to say that.

Taking responsibility involves more than taking blame. It implies that you will make things right. By burying a tiny little apology at the end of a program with no real explanation of how it got the story wrong, “60 Minutes” missed an opportunity to show all journalists how to stand up, take the lumps and get the story right. Give Oprah a whack at Mr. Davies. Maybe she can get to the bottom of this mess. Read more