CBS's 60 Minutes has had a rough year. Once a cornerstone of reliable journalism, the show has made a series of bad judgment calls and potential ethical breaches in 2013. If 60 Minutes wants to do better next year, it's going to have to ditch false and fawning segments like these — the five worst from 2013.
1. Benghazi: Um, research?
The report, which aired on Oct. 27, focused on ex-security officer Dylan Davies. While it was intended to be the first Western eyewitness account of the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Davies wasn't actually there. While he was in Benghazi at the time of the attack, Davies told 60 Minutes self-aggrandizing tales of how he ran toward the compound and engaged the attackers. Instead, the state department and the FBI said he was in his villa the entire time. The worst part was that this information was available all along, but reporter Lara Logan just chose not to follow it, prompting the apology video above.
2. The NSA is Awesome! XOXO — CBS
In this piece that aired on Dec. 5, CBS' "unprecedented access" to the National Security Agency (NSA) seemed to come in exchange for televised flattery. The segment, which was led by correspondent John Miller — a former employee of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (red flag number one) — interviewed a handful of NSA higher-ups, but not a critic could be found. Here is a summary of the episode in case you missed it:
CBS: Are you doing an awesome job protecting us?
CBS: Thank you for all you do.
3. Detroit and Somalia: Basically the same place
Despite how many "investigative" pieces there have been this year on Detroit being a hellhole, CBS decided to throw in one more on Oct. 13. On the phone with the Detroit Free Press the day before the show aired, correspondent Bob Simon openly compared Detroit to Mogadishu, and that's certainly what they tried to make it look like. The program glazed over structural economic problems and instead showed us dramatic images of shuttered schools and burned out buildings. Instead of highlighting solutions and preventable problems, the show chose to use Detroit as disaster porn.
4. Dear Hillary — Smooches. Love, Barack.
CBS landed a twofer in January when President Obama Barack agreed to join outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for an exit interview, reportedly so that he could "publicly say thank you," adding, "I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we've had." At the time, Clinton was battling criticism over Benghazi, and she needed to rebuild her image — and CBS just let her do it. No hard questions, just a love fest among CBS, Obama, and Clinton. Quite the triangle.
5. CBS taken out by Amazon's drones
If you don't see anything wrong with Amazon landing a 14-minute advertisement on 60 Minutes on the eve of Cyber Monday, then you should get a brain biopsy. CBS's Charlie Rose had no idea what "surprise" Amazon would be revealing on his show, and guessed it might be an Amazon news network, before CEO Jeff Bezos spilled the beans. Despite there being obvious problems with the idea of a drone delivery system, CBS asked nothing but wide-eyed fanboy questions, and the next day, Amazon had the biggest Cyber Monday sales in their history. I guess it's a win-win?