On 60 Minutes tonight, Lara Logan issued a brief apology for her October 27 report on Benghazi, which featured the testimony of a lying witness; media critics are already declaring the apology inadequate. Logan's report was tied to the publication of a book by the now-discredited witness -- a book that was published, two days after the report aired, by Threshold Editions, a right-wing imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is part of CBS, Inc., and which was founded by former Dick Cheney aide Mary Matalin. (The book has since been withdrawn.)
I've always been curious about the timing of Simon & Schuster's decision to give Matalin an imprint in the first place. The existence of Threshold was announced in March 2005. CBS was under great pressure in early 2005 from the right after George W. Bush's reelection. The Dan Rather National Guard story had aired in September 2004. The panel convened by CBS to investigate the story issued its report in January 2005. And then heads rolled:
CBS terminated [producer] Mary Mapes and demanded the resignations of 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard and Howard's top deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy, as well as Senior Vice President Betsy West, who had been in charge of all prime time newscasts. Murphy and West resigned on February 25, 2005 ... Josh Howard resigned on March 25, 2005....So many personnel changes happened in February and March 2005. Matalin's imprint was announced on March 22.
Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, stated "Dan Rather has already apologized for the segment and taken responsibility for his part in the broadcast. He voluntarily moved to set a date to step down from the 'CBS Evening News' in March of 2005."
Coincidence? I don't know. Did the company give an imprint to a Cheney aide at that time in the hopes of appeasing the Bush administration?
It's true that other mainstream publishers were establishing right-wing imprints around the same time -- Crown Forum at Random House, Sentinel at Penguin. But they weren't headed by former GOP operatives.
So did Lara Logan-gate have its roots in a corporate overreaction to right-wing anger at Rathergate? Hard to say, but maybe.