CNN reported on the personal journal of slain American ambassador Christopher Stevens over objections from his family, a State Department spokesman said Saturday.
The news channel, in a story posted online Saturday, said that it found a journal belonging to Stevens four days after he died in a Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Three other Americans also were killed.
CNN broke a pledge to the late ambassador’s family that it wouldn’t report on the diary, said State Department spokesman Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In a blistering statement, Reines called CNN’s actions “indefensible.”
The channel said in the story online that it took “newsworthy tips” from Stevens’ diary and confirmed them with other sources. Citing an unidentified source “familiar with Stevens’ thinking,” CNN said that the ambassador was concerned about security threats in Benghazi and a “rise in Islamic extremism.”
In a statement Saturday, CNN defended its use of the journal’s contents and asked “why is the State Department now attacking the messenger?”
“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,” the channel said.
The public has a right to know what CNN learned from “multiple sources” about fears and warnings of a terror threat before the Benghazi attack, the channel said, “which are now raising questions about why the State Department didn’t do more to protect Ambassador Stevens and other U.S. personnel.”
Stevens’ family was informed within hours about the discovery of the journal, a hard-bound book that included seven handwritten pages. It was returned to them via a third party, according to CNN’s online story.