Updated Tuesday, 5:34 p.m.:
Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of communications for ABC News, released the following statement: “Assuming the email reported by CNN is accurate, it is consistent with the summary quoted by Jon Karl.”
Updated Tuesday, 5:24 p.m.:
Karl posted a response to Tapper’s criticism, stating that he was not quoting the email directly but “quoting verbatim a source who reviewed the original documents and shared detailed notes.” He added that the source explained the discrepancy this way:
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I asked my original source today to explain the different wording on the Ben Rhodes e-mail, and the fact that the words “State Department” were not included in the e-mail provided to CNN’s Tapper.
This was my source’s response, via e-mail: “WH reply was after a long chain of email about State Dept concerns. So when WH emailer says, take into account all equities, he is talking about the State equities, since that is what the email chain was about.”
ABC News is under criticism Tuesday after publishing a Benghazi-related expose that contained an ostensibly doctored email.
In an exclusive published on May 10, Jonathan Karl, White House correspondent for ABC News, reported that the CIA’s talking points on the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, had been revised 12 times. In the story, Karl excerpted an email from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, which seemed to emphasize a desire to protect the interest of the State Department in the response to the attack that led to the death of four Americans.
“We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.”
On Tuesday, however, CNN’s Jake Tapper, who recently worked at ABC News, reported that the passage differs greatly from the original email, which CNN published here. The email makes no reference to the State Department.
“Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.
“There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.”
Following CNN’s report, criticism of ABC News and Karl mounted on Twitter, with some calling for ABC News to take action.
â€” allanbrauer (@allanbrauer) May 14, 2013
â€” Steve Weinstein (@steveweinstein) May 14, 2013
It’s unclear where ABC News obtained the email in question or how the discrepancy occurred. Karl and ABC News have yet to respond to the incident.
A request to ABC News for comment was not immediately returned. Updates will be posted here when it is.
It’s not the first time ABC News has been called out for factual accuracy. Last summer, after Tony Scott leaped to his death from a Los Angeles County bridge, the news outlet erroneously reported that the “Top Gun” director had inoperable brain cancer at the time of his death. Scott’s family disputed the story and was later vindicated by a coroner’s report, which found no evidence of underlying health problems. The network cited only a source close to Scott.
ABC News is owned by the Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS). CNN is a unit of Turner Broadcasting System, which is owned by Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX).