De Beers Responds to 60

In a blistering letter to 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt, De Beers corporate affairs director Rory More O’Ferrall charged that the program painted an “unfair and distorted” view of the company.

“I was given personal assurances that the reporting would be ‘fair and balanced,’ ” O’Ferrall wrote. “Unfortunately, this was not the case.”

Among O’Ferrall’s beefs with the post-Valentine’s Day story:

“The program specifically highlighted an indictment in the U.S.—omitting to mention that the case against our alleged co-conspirator was dismissed for lack of evidence.”

Regarding conflict diamonds, the show didn’t mention “the corrupt politicians, the arms deals, the struggle for control of other valuable mineral resources that help to fuel these conflicts. The harrowing images of devastating civil war in Sierra Leone were left to suggest that diamonds, of themselves, were entirely responsible for the cruelty and suffering.”

While 60 Minutes doubted De Beers’ estimate that “conflict diamonds” account for only 4% of worldwide production, O’Ferrall said that figure has been “accepted by the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, and the British government as the best estimate … By no means are all diamonds potentially tainted, and it was highly misleading to say so.” In addition, “the establishment of the World Diamond Council, the progress made towards implementing a global certification scheme to control rough diamond imports and exports, [and] the industry’s work with the U.N. and national governments on model legislation all went without mention.”