Last Wednesday, Anderson Cooper used parts of deceased Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens' diary as a tip for a story on "Anderson Cooper 360." During an interview with John McCain, Cooper said "a source familiar with Ambassador Stevens' thinking told us that in the months before his death he talked about being worried about the never-ending security threats that he was facing in Benghazi and specifically about the rise in Islamic extremism and growing al Qaeda presence." That source, apparently, was Stevens' journal, which CNN discovered amongst the rubble in the U.S. Consulate three days after the attack that killed Stevens.
CNN didn't initially disclose their use of the journal, the tips from which were, they say, corroborated with other sources, until Friday evening, when Cooper revealed the information on his show. CNN also posted a story explaining the journal's discovery. From that post:
CNN notified Stevens' family about the journal within hours after it was discovered and at the family's 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 ambassador's 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.
Anderson's announcement and the subsequent post were apparently prompted by a request for comment from the Huffington Post on Friday afternoon, after they received a tip about the journal.
Now, the State Department has responded, with spokesman Phillpe Reines calling CNN's use of the diary "disgusting."
"Whose first instinct is to remove from a crime scene the diary of a man killed along with three other Americans serving our country, read it, transcribe it, email it around your newsroom for others to read, and only when their curiosity is fully satisfied thinks to call the family or notify the authorities?" Reines asked.
He also said CNN "ultimately broke their pledge made to them only hours after they witnessed the return to the United States of Chris's remains."
CNN replied with a statement of their own:
"CNN did not initially report on the existence of a journal out of respect for the family, but we felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting, which we did. We think the public had a right to know what CNN had learned from multiple sources about the fears and warnings of a terror threat before the Benghazi attack which are now raising questions about why the State Department didn't do more to protect Ambassador Stevens and other U.S. personnel. Perhaps the real question here is why is the State Department now attacking the messenger."
The news organization also said they returned the journal within 24 hours of finding it, and that they did not directly quote from the journal or show it on air.
[Image via AP]