May 19th, 2013
11:54 AM ET
10 years ago

ABC's Jonathan Karl to CNN: 'I regret the email was quoted incorrectly'

(CNN) - Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News, addressed criticism of his reporting on the Benghazi talking points controversy, saying in a statement to CNN that he regrets the inaccuracy of his report.

“Clearly, I regret the email was quoted incorrectly and I regret that it’s become a distraction from the story, which still entirely stands. I should have been clearer about the attribution. We updated our story immediately," he said in the statement to Howard Kurtz, host of CNN's "Reliable Sources."

Earlier this month, Karl reported that he obtained emails by White House staff that indicated they had a dramatic role in altering the talking points that were later used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on Sunday morning talk shows to explain the attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

From those talking points, she said the attack spurred from a spontaneous demonstration outside the compound, while the Obama administration later stated the violence came from a premeditated terror attack.

Questions soon arose over how the error took place, as reports showed that initial drafts of those talking points included references to extremists but were later changed to attribute the incident to protests over an anti-Islam film.

Karl reported on May 10 that, based on summaries of the emails, the White House had a leading role in the editing process and had scrubbed vital information from the talking points.

But CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper, host of CNN's "The Lead," reported days later that the actual e-mail from then-Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes told a different story.

Read more about the discrepancy here.

Filed under: Libya • The Lead
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. nick p

    more lies from the gop, again! this is also why issa refuses to allow a public hearing with pickering, he wants to be able to control the talking points, which means he can come out of a closed door meeting saying this and that were said, and the american public cant hear it for themselves and catch the gop lying again to further their smear tactic for future elections!

    May 19, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Gary

    Holder, don"t stop at the AP. Add ABC to your investigation. Boehner, you want someone to go to jail, lets start with the media. If you report a lie, you pay.

    May 19, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. merlinsscience

    Alright, so what we now know is that: there was no spontaneous demonstration and the administration knew it, the CIA had warned that an attack may happen and that it was premeditated and may be disguised as a demonstration, the talking points from the CIA were correct and the FBI signed off on them, the State Dept and Administration – working together- scrubbed all truth (except the date and location) from the talking points, no one involved in the process was willing to be trotted out to deliver the lie- I mean story so they got 'Mikey' – I mean Susan... Apparently she'll say anything.

    That about sums it up, based upon the reporting, emails and testimony from the folks on the ground. And how does this differ from what the Administration critics have been saying since September 12, 2012? How do these facts make the truth a "right wing conspiracy"? This reminds me of Iran-contra, White Water, Watergate and Abu Grahib... In all cases the truth "sucked" but the coverup is what killed.

    May 19, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. Joan

    Karl should reveal who gave him the doctored e-mails. After all, they have played a huge part in this investigation and if the Republicans purposefully leaked e-mails that were altered to suit their talking points, shouldn't the public know that? . Transparency and truth, remember. Karl should be interviewed during the investigation so that everyone knows exactly what happened and by whom. Do you think Issa would agree to that?

    May 19, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. merlinsscience

    It is actually kind of sad that Jonathan had to issue that apology... In fact, the whitehouse did have a leading role in sanitizing the message before Susan was thrown to the wolves. Jake's later report was actually the one in error, however, everyone is being caught up in the minutia as an attempt to camouflage the seriousness of the initial offense.

    The story, as it is unfolding, presents a terrible picture for the security of our diplomats in the months and days leading up to September 11 last year. Stevens and his security details were begging, not asking, for assistance and yet those emotional requests fell on deaf ears. That is the number one issue here. Second, was the lack of a response- any response. And finally, there is the obvious coverup that quickly occurred. The whitehouse emails indicate that the truth became a lie and that both the whitehouse and the State Dept were the cause. These are the two agencies that had the most to loose: the administration was in a tight reelection battle and the State Dept. was being lead by a future whitehouse hopeful, who was in fact, the most culpable. The facts stand on their own.

    May 19, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Peace

    ABC must kick out this man immediately otherwise it will lose its credibility. We trust these reporters in their reporting to be accurate, if they can't , what is the use of being assigned for the job at the first place. This kind of mistake is huge as the issue on Benghazi hasn't reached the end.

    May 19, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. merridee

    Quoted "incorrectly"? What a crock! How about rewritten to change the meaning of the e-mails entirely? How about rewritten to deceive?

    May 19, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Pete

    This is where reporters should stay out of government until info is released not until then..A reporter thought he read ,heard something and in incorrectly writting it he got not only himself but people in the WH in hot water..This is definitly a firing offense and republicans the guiltier of the partys plays right with it whether it be right or wrong just publish it if it hurts the president or anyone democratic is republicans stance and its got to stop..We are Americans and as one country we should act unbiased until the truth be told no matter how long it takes especially when person(s) of importance are concerned ...Romney was a perfect example of a republican jumping the gun in many an instance and having a group he hired to simply correct his miscues as he went along is something he or our country can't ignore or turn a blind eye too as well!!

    May 19, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Who care except the gop morons ,the same bs as the fast and fureious bs by the gop bs and propaganda provda ,you remember them?? Party.

    May 19, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. MaryM

    So Karl repeated the crap that the repubs fed him. Good ol' lyin repubs

    May 19, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Tony

    In other words, he will stick with his story even though his sources turned out to be wrong. In his defense, at least he bothered with sources. Republicans would have just made up the story and the sources.

    May 19, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. lisa

    So Karl need to be suspended ASAP. He first says that ABC had the deceitful emails and then he admitted that they were never in possession of them that they got them from some tpublicans reps,. This is the real scandal.

    May 19, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Maria Merrick

    Really Tony!! The media is corrupt!! They will protect this administration to no end!! When the media is corrupt democracy will no longer exists. The media will cover and lie for this thuggish administration, and will hide the truth. They relish on the uninformed and the stupid!
    If this president was a republican the left would be outraged. The community organizer in action

    May 19, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. marechanden

    Nonsense, Karl, you don't regret anything except that you got caught. You wrote that you had the emails when you NEVER HAD THEM, only the lies you gleefully swallowed from a source with known biases.

    You breached more professional standards in one act of journalistic malfeasance than I can count here. The only honorable thing left for you to do is resign.

    May 19, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Charlotte

    The story "still stands?" How can it, when the entire brouhaha is based on falsified e-mails? What a lousy excuse of a journalist he is.

    May 19, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Tom1940

    If the White House had told the truth in the first place, there would now be no argument over which "version" of "which" email was "correct" or "incorrect".

    May 19, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. marechanden

    BTW, does anyone else appreciate the irony of having Jonathan Karl, poster boy for journalistic malfeasance, on "Reliable Sources"?

    May 19, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Marie MD

    abc not only has the worst shows but this Karl needs to be fired.
    The facts are not correct but let's report the news. Reminds me of kyl with his 98% abortion figures at Planned Parenthood NOT because it's the tru but because that is what he thinks. He has to be a rethug to boot.
    And we have to wonder why DOJ was allegedly keeping track AP?

    May 19, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. love@tiscali

    Give the GOP a rope and they really use and another did Mitt Romney know there was an attack before there was an attack.....................the GOP manipulated this whole Benghazi situation to try to smear...instead of solidarity and support for the families that were affected by the deaths...........they try sooooooooo hard..

    May 19, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. love@tiscali

    no more inside scopes for you Jonathon..

    May 19, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Getoverit

    Holder, don”t stop at the AP. Add ABC to your investigation. Boehner, you want someone to go to jail, lets start with the media. If you report a lie, you pay.
    Then why wasn't the entire MSM jailed starting with Obama's first campaign?

    May 19, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Evergreen

    Until the killers are caught we will not know what motivated them to attack the outpost. Its possible that some attackers were motivated by the video while others had planned to attack on that date.

    May 19, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Send a copy to Rand Paul and Issa ,

    I want to here them read it out laude .

    Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News was just transferred to a ABC affiliate in American Samoa .

    May 19, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. wade

    His story is correct even if one detail was not. The fact that the WHITE HOUSE was involved cannot be disputed. That is CLEAR. Hillary Clinton works for Obama and she was absolutely involved. The CIA did not like the report and said so but eventually signed off under pressure form Hillary! CNN an Jack Tripper known to be total liberal biased reporter helping out Obama is just absolutely shameful. The fact that a GOOD reporter of the few that actually exist made an error and corrected it right away does not change the facts of the story.

    May 19, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. rs

    This explanation doesn't explain the text THAT WASN'T in the WH official e-mails that mysteriously got added by ABC News. The other element is this: what proof exists that the events in Benghazi were not as explained? No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, something one would think Al Qaeda (and affiliated groups) would want to do on 9/11.

    No, no, this IS what it appears- a manufactured controversy taking advantage of the deaths of embassy staffs on the part of the GOP.

    May 19, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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