CNN Admits Finding Slain Ambassadorâs Personal Journal in LibyaâŚAnd Using it for âTipsâ
On Friday night, Anderson Cooper revealed on his show that CNN used Ambassador Christopher Stevensâ personal journal as a source in its reporting after the deadly attack that killed Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Discussing when, specifically, the information was used, Cooper said:
On Wednesday of this week, we reported that a source familiar with Ambassador Stevensâ thinking said in the months before his death, Ambassador Stevens talked about being worried about what he called the never-ending security threats in Benghazi.
We also reported that the ambassador specifically mentioned the rise in Islamic extremism, the growing Al Qaeda presence in Libya and said he was on an Al Qaeda hit list. The information for that report, like all of CNNâs reporting, was carefully vetted. Some of that information was found in a personal journal of Ambassador Stevens in his handwriting.
We came upon the journal through our reporting and notified the family. At their request, we returned that journal to them. We reported what we found newsworthy in the ambassadorâs writingsâŚ [Emphasis added]
Though Cooper appears to relay the information as nothing more than a side note, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that there is much more to the story.
Not only did CNN fail to mention for days the fact that it apparently used the personal journal of a murdered ambassador as a source, Stevensâ family reportedly asked CNN not to discuss the journal or its contents until they had a chance to review it.
Furthermore, Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, disputes CNNâs assertion that the network contacted the family within hours of finding the journal and readily agreed to return it. Apparently it took several attempts to get CNN to agree to hand over the private information.
State Department spokesman Philippe Reines called CNNâs actions âindefensible.â
Early Saturday morning, CNN published a story with more information on the journal, and how exactly it came into the networkâs possession.
The network explains:
Four days after he was killed, CNN found a journal belonging to late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The journal was found on the floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded.
CNN notified Stevensâ family about the journal within hours after it was discovered and at the familyâs request provided it to them via a third party.
The journal consists of just seven pages of handwriting in a hard-bound book.
For CNN, the ambassadorâs writings served as tips about the situation in Libya, and in Benghazi in particular. CNN took the newsworthy tips and corroborated them with other sources.
Here is video of Cooperâs admission, via Mediaite: