CBS struggling with the appearance of conflict of interest with Rhodes Bros

Thomas Lifson
CBS News has a serious credibility problem with an obvious solution it refuses to take.  With a president named David Rhodes who is the brother of the man at the center of a firestorm over the Obama administration’s Benghazi cover-up, Ben Rhodes,  the news operation is under suspicion of downplaying the story. It doesn’t help that its former correspondent Sharyl Attkisson left the network over its failure to support her investigative reporting  into Benghazigate.

Now, CBS News has been forced to formally deny that its president played a role in its lack of coverage.  Michael Calderone of the Huffpo reports:

CBS News President David Rhodes was not involved in editorial discussions on Wednesday about whether “CBS Evening News” should cover a newly released email written by his brother Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, according to a network spokesperson. (snip)

While “CBS This Morning” reported on the email Wednesday morning, the evening newscast did not -- a decision that caught the attention of the Washington Free Beacon. The website pointed out the Rhodes connection on Wednesday, and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, followed up Thursday with a piece titled: "Two Brothers at Center of Benghazi Controversy: One Runs CBS News, the Other Is Obama’s Adviser."

“White House Correspondent Bill Plante reported the story on 'CBS This Morning,' with a disclaimer about the relationship, as well as CBS News Radio andCBSNews.com,” a CBS News spokeswoman told HuffPost. “There also was a thorough editorial discussion about it at ‘CBS Evening News’ and David Rhodes was not involved.”

The Rhodes brothers angle only adds to suggestions this week that CBS News hasn’t been aggressive enough when it comes to Benghazi.

The current denial is far from convincing. CBS’s neglect of the story is longstanding, and I doubt there is a single person in the editorial staff who does not already understand the blood ties and the editorial orientation at issue.

There is a clear appearance of a conflict of interest, no matter how much the network may protest. The solution is obvious: go after the story. If the network does not, then fair or not, the appearance will stand.  David Rhodes should issue and make public a memo instructing his staff to ignore the fact of his blood tie, and go after the story.

CBS News has a serious credibility problem with an obvious solution it refuses to take.  With a president named David Rhodes who is the brother of the man at the center of a firestorm over the Obama administration’s Benghazi cover-up, Ben Rhodes,  the news operation is under suspicion of downplaying the story. It doesn’t help that its former correspondent Sharyl Attkisson left the network over its failure to support her investigative reporting  into Benghazigate.

Now, CBS News has been forced to formally deny that its president played a role in its lack of coverage.  Michael Calderone of the Huffpo reports:

CBS News President David Rhodes was not involved in editorial discussions on Wednesday about whether “CBS Evening News” should cover a newly released email written by his brother Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, according to a network spokesperson. (snip)

While “CBS This Morning” reported on the email Wednesday morning, the evening newscast did not -- a decision that caught the attention of the Washington Free Beacon. The website pointed out the Rhodes connection on Wednesday, and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, followed up Thursday with a piece titled: "Two Brothers at Center of Benghazi Controversy: One Runs CBS News, the Other Is Obama’s Adviser."

“White House Correspondent Bill Plante reported the story on 'CBS This Morning,' with a disclaimer about the relationship, as well as CBS News Radio andCBSNews.com,” a CBS News spokeswoman told HuffPost. “There also was a thorough editorial discussion about it at ‘CBS Evening News’ and David Rhodes was not involved.”

The Rhodes brothers angle only adds to suggestions this week that CBS News hasn’t been aggressive enough when it comes to Benghazi.

The current denial is far from convincing. CBS’s neglect of the story is longstanding, and I doubt there is a single person in the editorial staff who does not already understand the blood ties and the editorial orientation at issue.

There is a clear appearance of a conflict of interest, no matter how much the network may protest. The solution is obvious: go after the story. If the network does not, then fair or not, the appearance will stand.  David Rhodes should issue and make public a memo instructing his staff to ignore the fact of his blood tie, and go after the story.