As you’ve probably seen by now, the recent 60 Minutes story on Benghazi has been crumbling apart after the revelation that one of the sources lied. Politico has a piece up about how the story went bad, theorizing that it comes down to the staff of 60 Minutes believing themselves infallible. They also allege the the 60 Minutes team did not check with the CBS News team, who would likely have been able to catch the discrepancy between what their source told them and what he had told the FBI.
I actually have my own theory about what happened, and it’s best summed up by a line I remember reading recently*: When people get the answer they want, they stop thinking.
I’d like to draw your attention to an excerpt from the Chicago Sun Times from October 7th of last year:
Logan even called for retribution for the recent terrorist killings of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other officials. The event is a harbinger of our vulnerability, she said. Logan hopes that America will “exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil. That its ambassadors will not be murdered, and that the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it.”
Maybe it’s just me, but that does not sound like the words of an objective journalist. This does, however, sound like the words of a person who know what answer they want.
It’s clear that serious lapses were made in vetting the sources of this story. It sounds as if they knew all along that that the account they were getting from a source differed substantially from what he had told his employer, but simply took his word for it that he had lied to his employer because he hadn’t followed directions.
This is an inexcusable error. When I was running this site, my standard rule of thumb was not to run anything until I could get it confirmed from two separate sources. The idea of running something when I’m aware of two conflicting accounts from the same source would have seemed absurd to me. And to not even look into what that source may have told the FBI or any other investigator is just insane.
Is it possible that this is just a case of the 60 Minutes staff becoming complacent? Sure, it’s possible. But I also think that it would be a huge coincidence for the one story that came back to bite them to be one where a main figure in putting the story together had been so outspoken on the topic.
And lets not forget, this is a story that CBS claims they worked on for over a year! And it’s been ripped to shreds by other news organizations in a week.
I think Lara Logan got the answer she wanted, and then stopped thinking.
In 2004, CBS fired Dan Rather for an incident very similar to this one: a major story with serious political ramifications falling apart because the basis of the story wasn’t thoroughly vetted. While it’s not my place to say if Lara Logan and the people who worked on this story should be similarly dealt with, it’s clear that they’ve caused a serious blow to the credibility of themselves and CBS News.
*I have tried to track down the source of this, but I just can’t remember where it came from.
The following is a guest post from Seth Bringman.
Wednesday evening, I was honored to join friends and colleagues to support Chris Redfern in his re-election as Ohio Democratic Party Chairman.
From the day I started at the Ohio Democratic Party I was impressed with the Chairman's unique ability to hold a successful press conference and articulate the party's message, along with his vast knowledge of Democratic issues and Ohio political history.
Perhaps the most important role the Ohio Democratic Party Chairman will play between now and November is to forcefully and effectively defend our candidates through the media. Chris Redfern is indispensable in that role.
For the next seven months, Chairman Redfern will be an effective messenger on why Josh Mandel is extreme and bad for Ohio's women, seniors, and middle class.
He will also serve as Dean of the Obama Truth Team in Ohio, and in that role he will lead a statewide group that tells the truth about President Obama's record and holds Mitt Romney accountable.
I don't know Anthony Giardini. But I do know that there is no more effective defender of our candidates and our values than Chris Redfern. Whether it's to help a municipal judge in Toledo or the President of the United States, Chairman Redfern always answers the call of duty. I wish his critics had the opportunity to witness his relentless work the way I did every day for the past three years.
Since becoming Chairman in 2005, Chris Redfern has led Ohio Democrats from political oblivion to a nationally recognized state party. He has brought on a talented team of political professionals, and I am honored to have been a part of that team. My former colleagues might tell you that Chris Redfern isn't the easiest person in the world to work for. Those same staffers were cheering the loudest for him on Wednesday evening, and that tells you something.
We had a respectful meeting on both sides of the debate, and I'm happy that Democratic leaders from across Ohio left not focused on this week's election, but on November's. We have a lot of work to do over the next seven months, but President Obama, Senator Brown, and Justice McGee Brown are in a good place. And the Ohio Democratic Party remains in good hands.
Bringman was Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director from May of 2009 until his departure last month. He now works as a public relations consultant, assisting progressive causes in Ohio and across the country.
In order to help Treasurer of State Josh Mandel make it to his very first Board of Deposit meeting, I thought we should arrange an informational help kit. Below are some basic resources that should help Josh break his streak of missing 14 straight meetings.
While I assume you already have all the relevant information Josh (I mean, I got it from your office’s website), it’s worth mentioning again.
Upcoming Board Meeting Dates:
March 19, 2012 [Bank Designation] - Time TBD
April 26, 2012
May 24, 2012
June 28, 2012
July 26, 2012
All meetings are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in the 9th floor conference room B.
The March 19, 2012 meeting will be held in the 10th floor training room.
This is going to be an especially tough one for you to make Josh. Not only is the time still to be determined, it’s on a different floor! We respect the challenges that this brings, but we have confidence in you.
I’ve taken the liberty of including driving directions from the Ohio Republican Party HQ to the Treasurer of State’s office.
Joe Biden took to the stage in Toledo about an hour ago, the first stop in a series of campaign events he’ll be doing over the coming days. While I didn’t have time to watch it, here are excerpts from the speech I received this morning.
Ours is a philosophy that values the role of workers in the success of a business, and values the middle class in the success of the economy.
Stated simply, we’re about promoting the private sector. They’re about protecting the privileged sector.
We’re a fair shot, and a fair shake. They’re about no rules, no risk. And no accountability.
The President didn’t flinch.
This man has a spine of steel.
He knew rescuing the industry wasn’t popular. He knew he was taking a chance. But he believed.
He said, we are not going to give up on a million jobs, and the iconic industry America invented. Not without a fight.
We all want a president with the courage of his convictions.
Well folks, we have one.
He made the tough call.
And the verdict is in: President Obama was right and his critics were dead wrong.
The President and I have a fundamental commitment to dealing the middle class back in to the American economy.
And ultimately that’s what this election is all about. It’s about a choice.
A choice between a system that’s rigged, and one that’s fair.
A system that holds someone who misleads investors as accountable as someone who misses a payment on a mortgage.
A system that trusts the workers on the line, instead of just listening to the folks in the suites.
That’s a stark choice. To my mind it isn’t a choice at all.
I don’t even know what to say anymore. It’s almost like he’s trying to be the worst candidate possible.
The story is at the Plain Dealer.
I wrote a post once titled “We Have To Police Our Own”. At the time, the focus was on a Democratic officeholder who had allegedly refused to act responsibly. That was nearly four years ago, and I’d be hard pressed to come up with another post I wrote that was more important to me.
It now is being alleged that another Democratic officeholder has acted in a manner that is unfitting of the trust voters placed in him. And as before, it must not be allowed to stand. While the person has already resigned his office, I wish to unequivocally condemn the behavior that this person is accused of.
Republicans will try to paint this as damaging to the Democratic Party, and I suppose they’ll be right. But it should not be forgotten how their party has repeatedly dealt with miscreants. We have seen several Republican officials commit disgraceful acts, yet still remain in office.
To claim to be a party free from corruption is little more than rhetoric, unfortunately. There are just too many factors out of control, no matter what steps have been taken to prevent it. Instead, we should put more focus on how corruption is dealt with. Should it be seen only as a matter that could influence elections, or should it receive universal condemnation as a betrayal of the public’s trust.
In the few unfortunate circumstances where the Ohio Democratic Party has had to face such a decision in the past few years, they’ve made the correct decision.
Remember all those folks who got wound up about someone possibly throwing cigarettes at the Governor's Mansion? Those same people now get to try and defend this.
The Dispatch reported this morning, that an incumbent candidate for the Republican Central Committee was offered the chance to influence gubernatorial appointments. All he had to do was drop out of his race and clear the way for the Kasich backed, anti-DeWine opponent.
The candidate approached, Portage County Republican Party Chairman Andrew Manning, has sent a sworn affidavit stating as much to various authorities.
So, at best, Kasich has divided his party so much that county chairmen are willing to file false reports against him. At worst, our governor is willing to commit some pretty heavy election fraud in order to get his way.
Sit tight folks, it's about to get very interesting...
Moved after the break.
Find it after the break.
I generally have avoided talking about myself personally on this site. Many who have learned who I was asked me how I could balance the demands of a legal practice and the demands of blogging. The reality is I couldn’t. The demands of blogging required me to stay up sometimes until 4 a.m. to draft posts that I’d schedule to post throughout the day. It was a labor of love, but it was unsustainable. I’m amazed that I’ve managed as long as I did. But now the Esquire part has started to overpass Modern. After nearly seven years of practicing and scraping by, I’ve started a new job that fortunately pays well, is intellectually challenging, and is simply too time consuming for me to Modern anymore. It deserves and requires my full attention. Furthermore, I can no longer write a post and not risk a conflict of interest because I simply cannot know all of the potential conflicts anymore. It’s a risk I cannot ethically accept. So, Modern has to go.It's a big loss, not just for the political blogosphere, but political journalism in Ohio. Modern was responsible for breaking a lot of stories, and giving real context that was hard to find anywhere. BSB wishes him good luck in his future endeavors.
I’m sad to pass on the news that Brian Usher has died. I had the pleasure of communicating with Brian a few times over the last few years, and he never ceased to amaze me with his seemingly omnipresent insights.
The sincere condolences of the entire BSB staff, past and present, go out to Mr. Usher’s family.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I present to you today the very loosest of cases, based solely of circumstantial evidence and my own unprofessional read of the situation at hand. Nothing I say here should be taken as fact, unless verified by an outside source
Translation: This is nothing but a theory, and not a very solid one at that. I’m just throwing it out here in the interest of sparking discussion, not reporting it as fact.
Okay. Now that we have an understanding, I’ll proceed with my case.
Exhibit A: Kasich Calls On Taylor To Testify About Healthcare Exchange
So if Taylor is unwilling to testify, why did Kasich lead the Columbus Dispatch to believe that he was willing to testify but would prefer for Taylor to do so?
Gov. John Kasich hinted that he was willing to share information with Carney and the Ohio House’s Health and Aging Committee. The catch is, the governor said, he’d rather Taylor or his health-care adviser, Greg Moody, go testify instead of him.
“ That’s their issue,” Kasich said, adding later: “I’ve got to think these things through. I’d like to get somebody there that’s working on it all the time.”
Just days later on the 15th, Taylor called the request to testify a “political stunt”.
Exhibit B: Kasich Brings Up Taylor’s Plane Use
In yesterday’s end of the year review, Kasich brought up Taylor’s improper use of state planes. Until I saw a tweet about this remark, I hadn’t heard a thing about this story. Now, because of his mention, the story is getting press coverage.
So why did he bring it up during such a heavily publicized speech?
One could argue that Kasich was trying to head off a potential scandal by announcing a resolution before a story broke through into the public consciousness. The trouble with that theory is that that isn’t how Kasich operates. We have many examples of Kasich’s M.O. dating back to the opening moments of his term, where he attempted to be sworn in during a private midnight ceremony. In this and other cases, Kasich tried to steamroll over opposition until he was finally stopped by bad press and the possibility of a legal challenge. He did the same with his unconstitutional appointment of Mark Kvamme, and his attempts to impose strict limits on press coverage.
Exhibit C: Taylor Did Not Attend Yesterday’s Speech
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Mary Taylor did not attend Kasich’s year end speech. It was claimed that she was off working on CPE training so that she could remain a certified public accountant.
Exhibit D: John Kasich, Control Freak and All-Around Unpleasant Person
And finally, we have the emergence of a pattern. Kasich has finally came out directly and asked for Kevin DeWine to step down as the State Chairman of the Republican Party. This is a fight that has been brewing for a long time, with DeWine now saying Kasich asked him to resign shortly after he was elected.
Kasich tried to do this first through that backchannel ask. When that failed, he used his supporters to try and undermine DeWine’s position. And now he has his supporters out working to state a coup in the central committee.
As much as I hate to say it, the Republicans gave us an ass kicking in the last election. Regardless of the reasons for their success, you wouldn’t expect them to be trying to throw out their chairman. But Kasich is so dead-set of appointing his own man, that he’s willing to risk a major intra-party civil war in a key swing state before a presidential election. Kasich must know that every Democratic strategist in America dreams about stuff like this, and he’s willing to do it anyway.
And now we have Mary Taylor. If Kasich isn’t actively trying to undermine her, he still managing to do a fair job of it.
I don’t know why Kasich would have a reason to turn on Taylor after picking her as a running mate, but there has been speculation that Taylor has her eye on even bigger things. The same has been said about Kasich.
The Columbus Dispatch has an article up with some remarks from Mary Taylor about the ongoing battle to get her testimony on the progress of setting up a state healthcare exchange. Unfortunately, Taylor seems to view the request as little more than a meaningless "political stunt".
As I mentioned the other day, this is a process that seems to have already been corrupted in another state. I find the unwillingness to treat this as a serious matter by Taylor to be very troubling.
When you also consider that John Kasich has said he would testify but prefers for Taylor to do so, her reluctance becomes downright puzzling.
We all thought that Mary “No Show” Taylor had found the perfect job when she became John Kasich’s Lieutenant Governor. All she had to do was sit around and wait for the day that Kasich got thrown out of the Statehouse, she didn’t even have to make up some story about working in an office in Canton!
But then she ruined it, taking on the second role as Kasich’s Department of Insurance Director.
For almost a month now, House Democrats have been calling on Taylor to update them on the Department of Insurance’s progress towards setting up a state healthcare exchange for Ohio. This state exchange is an option given to the states to bring themselves into compliance with the recently passed healthcare reforms without having to cede control to the Federal Government.
The need for transparency and oversight in this process was recently driven home by the exposure of corruption and waste of Federal grant money by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley while working on their own healthcare exchange.
So far Mary Taylor has ignored requests to appear before the House Health and Aging committee, instead spending her time traveling the state and giving mostly speeches light on policy details and dripping with political rhetoric.
State Representative John Carney has even tried to issue a subpoena compelling Mary Taylor to testify before the House Health and Aging committee, but Republicans were quick to block the process.
Given all that’s happened in South Carolina and our own redistricting process, one has to wonder if they might have something to hide? Or, more likely, Taylor and her staff have yet to even start on the process.
The State of Ohio has any number of super-mega-big ticket transportation needs on its plate. The Brent Spence Bridge that carries I-71 and I-75 across the Ohio RIver is deteriorating and is going to need a multi-billion dollar replacement. The Innerbelt reconstruction in downtown Cleveland is proceeding with the first step, replacement of the rickety bridges that carry I-90 across the Cuyahoga River valley, under way. In Columbus, re-construction of the interchanges between I-70 and I-71 has commenced, in an $800 million construction project so massive, and with so many lane closures, detours, and orange barrels, that it's referred to as "Crawlumbus." In Toledo, the "Systems" interchange between I-75 and I-475 is in need of re-construction, as is the Central Interchange in downtown Akron between I-77, I-76 and State Route 8.
Meanwhile, the federal gas tax has not increased since 1993, and inflation has eaten up one-third of the State of Ohio's last 6 cent a gallon increase in the gas tax from the Taft administration. Clearly, ODOT faces tremendous challenges garnering the resources to keep our transportation system afloat.
So, what is Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's beef with ODOT? Well, City Hall's highest proirity transportation project in Cleveland right now is not one that would keep a rickety bridge from falling down, but rather, for asthetic purposes. Mayor Jackson wants to turn the West Shoreway, a 50 MPH freeway that carries US Routes 6 and 20 and State Route 2, into a 35 MPH boulevard, providing pedestrian access, bike paths, and a more pleasant atmosphere to allow Clevelanders to enjoy the lakefront. A worthwhile project, to be sure, and that's why ODOT committed $50 million to it in the middle of the last decade. But now, most of that money will be spent on a single aspect of the project: an underpass under the Norfolk Southern RR tracks to allow residents of the newly rebuilt Battery Park neighborhood access to the lakefront. The cost for this underpass has ballooned from $15 million to $34 million, and now there won't be enough funds left over for the rest of the project. Jackson wants $28 million more from ODOT to finish the job. Given the financial difficulties it faces, ODOT has predictably told the city to go pound sand, leading to a lot of bitching from Cleveland City Hall.
My challenege to Mayor Jackson is this: Quitcherbitchin, and figure out a way between the city and the county to fund this project yourselves. If this region waits for ODOT to solve all of its problems, it'll be waiting a long time. When the City of Columbus wanted improvements made to the interchange between I-71 and Polaris Parkway, it didn't wait for ODOT to fund it, it cut ODOT a check for the cost and told them to go build it. Maybe the City of Cleveland could commit to spending 1/4 of its income tax revenue on capital improvements the way Mike Coleman has? What about Cuyahoga County, with its highest in the state sales tax? Could 1/4 of those revenues be committed to capital improvements?
It's time to get creative, Mr. Mayor. Columbus has plenty of its own troubles. If you wait for them, you'll watch Cleveland's infrastructure deteorirate further. Quitcherbitchin and get to work.