Lara Logan

CBS News: Bill Whitaker’s new job ‘has nothing to do’ with Lara Logan

News & Record | Politico

We got to wondering when correspondent Lara Logan would be back at “60 Minutes” when we read an item in the (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record reporting that Lesley Stahl would replace Logan at Guilford College’s Bryan Series lecture on April 8.

Logan was suspended in November along with producer Max McClellan after an internal report called her Oct. 27 story on Benghazi “deficient in several respects.”

Politico’s Dylan Byers reported in December that Logan and McClellan were set to be back on the program “early next year,” although CBS had not scheduled a return date.

News that Bill Whitaker will be joining “60 Minutes” also fueled speculation on our part that he could be Logan’s replacement.

Kevin Tedesco, CBS News/60 Minutes communications executive director, cut that short in an email to Poynter:

Lara is still on a leave of absence and Bill Whitaker’s appointment has nothing to do with her.

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Correspondent Lara Logan of "60 Minutes" is on a leave of absence following an internal review by CBS News of her story on the Benghazi embassy attack. (AP Photo/Robert Spencer)

CBS memos suggest Logan had bias, but don’t say why no one addressed it

The CBS memos from Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News, and Al Ortiz, executive director of standards and practices, suggest that correspondent Lara Logan had a preconceived bias that prevented her from fully vetting her source before airing his story about the attack on the Benghazi embassy compound that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

But the leaked memos don’t explain why Logan’s superiors allowed her to pursue the story in the first place and why others at CBS didn’t compensate for her potential blind spots.

CBS announced the unspecified leave of absence for Logan and her producer Max McClellan. The Huffington Post ran memos from both Fager and Ortiz. Ortiz offered a summary of CBS’ findings that included these points:

  • It was possible to know that Dylan Davies’ account to the FBI was inconsistent with what he told CBS.
  • Logan and McClellan did not try to tap into the wider resources at CBS to get at the FBI information.
  • That Logan had good sources for her claim that Al Qaeda was behind the attack but that she didn’t cite them in the story.
  • That Logan’s public assertion more than a year earlier that the U.S. government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda indicated that she had created a conflict that should have precluded her from further reporting on the story.

Ortiz doesn’t specifically say that Logan’s bias is to blame, but he strongly implies it. The summary also doesn’t say why Logan and McClellan didn’t do more to check out Davies’ story, how they explain that failure, or why the broader system within CBS didn’t kick in to rescue the reporting team from their blind spots.

Fager states in his memo, “I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.”

It’s a bit unsatisfying that CBS can’t answer these questions. A news organization can’t possibly remove the blind spots from every staff member. Instead, the key is to create a system that identifies biases and compensates for them. It’s not so bad that Logan had a preconceived notion of what went wrong. What’s bad is that she didn’t use her extensive reporting skills to confirm what she thought were facts. And what’s worse is that the newsroom systems of editing and fact-checking didn’t kick in to force her to do so.

Logan’s original “60 Minutes” report had two significant elements. The first part of the report reviewed previous assertions that Stevens and his staff had expressed concerns over the security situation in Benghazi. The second element was Davies’ unique (and questionable) account of the attack that night.

We now know that Davies’ dramatic account of the attack is at best suspicious. But we don’t know whether to dismiss his and others’ claims about what happened before the attack. Because Davies’ turns out to be such an unreliable source, and because the political rhetoric around the attack and the U.S. military’s response to it has been so explosive, it is virtually impossible for the average citizen to sort out what happened and who was or wasn’t doing their jobs.

CBS’ high-profile failure on this story further clouds an already murky conversation in the public marketplace of ideas.

This is the real consequence of reporting failures. In a politically charged debate, where opinion peddlers are constantly making assertions about what happened and who was responsible, the possibility of grasping the truth slips away for the average citizen.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained an incorrect spelling for Max McClellan’s name. Read more


Lara Logan mourns Marie Colvin, who died in Syria Wednesday:

“You couldn’t be part of the foreign media world and travel to these places and not know who Marie Colvin was,” Logan observed. “She was a legend in her own right and a pioneer in many ways. As a woman, she started to do this work a long, long time ago when it was more of a man’s world than it still is today, in some ways. And Marie was — this was her life. She was completely committed to doing what she believed in. You hear that in her words and in her reporting, just hours before she was killed. It was always about that for her. It was about bearing witness and giving a voice to the people that don’t have one. And she said, so significantly, you know, if you’re not on the ground to witness what was really happening in Homs, then the Syrian government could write whatever narrative they wanted to write and there would be no counter narrative to that.”

Lara Logan on "CBS This Morning"


Addario: While covering rape in Congo, ‘I was openly weeping during interviews’

Women Under Siege
The Women’s Media Center launched a new project today, “Women Under Siege,” to raise awareness about how sexualized violence is used as a weapon of war. The project, which Gloria Steinem initiated and Lauren Wolfe is directing, has a website that features testimonies from journalists who have been sexually assaulted or have covered sexual assault, including CBS’ Lara Logan and New York Times photojournalist Lynsey Addario. Addario, who was captured in Libya last year, wrote about the impact of covering rape in Congo:

By the time I finished my two weeks photographing portraits and recording testimonies, I was completely devastated and depressed. I was openly weeping during interviews, and felt like I couldn’t process all the hatred and violence toward women I was bearing witness to. I felt inadequate and helpless as a journalist.

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CBS’ Logan: ‘My attack was retribution against the free press’

The Atlantic
Lauren Wolfe, director of Women Under Siege, says female journalists who are sexually assaulted on the job often stay quiet because they don’t want to lessen their standing in the newsroom. CBS’ Lara Logan, however, has inspired more women to come forward with their stories. Logan, who was sexually assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last February, tells Wolfe:

“My attack was retribution against the free press in general and the flow of information — it was meant to discredit the revolution. … It had a much bigger purpose to it.”

Logan also shared her reactions to a situation involving Jineth Bedoya, a Colombian journalist who was kidnapped, drugged and gang-raped while investigating state officials and members of a paramilitary group 11 years ago:

“An attack in retribution for your reporting speaks directly to the First Amendment. It’s terrifying in a different way. In her case, justice is critical because if you’re allowed to attack journalists with impunity, there will be no free press, especially if the government is involved.”

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CPJ report: Sexual assault is ‘the silencing crime’ for journalists

Committee to Protect Journalists
In a new report released today, CPJ draws attention to the sexual violence that many journalists have faced while on the job. CPJ Senior Editor Lauren Wolfe spent four months talking to about 50 journalists from the U.S. and abroad for the report. Some women reported being raped, while others — including men — said they were groped and sodomized, often while in detention or captivity.

Some journalists interviewed for the report said they felt motivated to talk about what happened to them after hearing Lara Logan go public with her story about being sexually assaulted in Egypt. That’s noteworthy, Wolfe said, but it remains extremely difficult for victims to step forward. Some journalists fear that if they do share their story, they’ll be told they can no longer cover stories in conflict zones. Others, Wolfe said, think they’ll come across as being vulnerable, whiny or weak. Read more

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In aftermath of Lara Logan’s attack, CPJ learns more about journalists sexually assaulted on the job

In an interview with 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley, CBS reporter Lara Logan recounted the day she was sexually assaulted by a mob of 200 to 300 men while covering the protests in Egypt.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying,” Logan told Pelley. “I thought not only am I going to die, but it’s going to be just a torturous death that’s going to go on forever.”

Logan went into detail about the assault, saying members of the mob separated her from her cameraman and producer, and later raped her.

Learning more about journalists who are assaulted

Logan’s attack has renewed attention to female journalists getting sexually assaulted while on the job. Lauren Wolfe, senior editor at the Committee to Protect Journalists, has interviewed journalists in the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and South Africa for a lengthy story she’s working on about the issue.

“I talked to women who experienced constant groping. I spoke to women who were raped in the course of their reporting or in retribution for their reporting,” Wolfe said in a phone interview. “It’s been really interesting, for me at least, to see how many people want to tell me their stories — how many people say they think it’s important that we get a picture of this issue.”

Wolfe has talked to foreign correspondents as well as local reporters who live in war zones and aren’t heard about as often here in the U.S.

“They can’t leave — that’s their lives. What happens to them?” Wolfe said. “A lot of the focus has been on foreign correspondents, and it’s great to bring to light what’s happening, but I do think it’s important to focus on local journalists as well. Local journalists really experience the brunt of violence.” According to CPJ statistics, of all the journalists reportedly killed since 1992, 87 percent were local reporters.

Wolfe said her goal is to give people a better sense of the types of sexual assault journalists face, and with what frequency.

“By examining issues like self-reporting and accountability for assaults, I hope that we can break the stigma that surrounds this part of the profession,” said Wolfe, whose story is set to come out in a couple of weeks. “Deliberate attacks on the media, sexual or otherwise, are meant to intimidate journalists from reporting the news. It’s a press freedom issue.”

CPJ has been criticized in the past for not compiling enough data about journalists who have been victims of sexual violence. The reason, Wolfe said, is because journalists don’t typically report sexual assaults to CPJ and data is therefore unavailable. She noted that CPJ is revising its handbook to better address sexual violence and said journalists have called CPJ to tell personal stories of rape or molestation, but usually ask that the conversations not be shared.

Unraveling the stigma around reporting sexual violence

In writing her story, Wolfe wants to try to figure out whether the stigma around reporting sexual assault has to do with media culture, local cultures, or both.

Countries such as Libya carry severe stigmas around sexual violence. Some women are shunned or cast out by their families. Rape there is treated “as a crime against the honor of a woman or her family, rather than as an attack on the woman herself,” The New York Times recently reported in a story about a woman who was repeatedly raped by members of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s militia. The woman, who was called a prostitute and a thief by Qaddafi’s state television network, took her case to the international media.

When you’re part of the media and you’ve been assaulted, sharing your story can cause added distress. In a Columbia Journalism Review piece about female journalists being attacked while on the job, Judith Matloff wrote:

“In the words of an American correspondent who awoke in her Baghdad compound to find her security guard’s head in her lap, ‘I don’t want it out there, for people to look at me and think, “Hmmm. This guy did that to her, yuck.’” I don’t want to be viewed in my worst vulnerability.”

Others in the media choose not to silently struggle. Logan told The New York Times’ Brian Stelter that CBS’ statement about her sexual assault “didn’t leave me to carry the burden alone, like my dirty little secret, something that I had to be ashamed of.”

During her “60 Minutes” interview, Logan said her colleagues were proud that she had broken the silence.

“Women never complain about incidents of sexual violence because you don’t want someone to say, ‘Well, women shouldn’t be out there,’ ” Logan said. “But I think there are a lot of women who experience these kinds of things as journalists and they don’t want it to stop their job, because they do it for the same reasons as me — they are committed to what they do. They are not adrenaline junkies you know, they’re not glory hounds, they do it because they believe in being journalists.”

The dangers that female journalists face when covering conflict have prompted some to question whether news organizations should “allow” women to go to war zones. Lynsey Addario, who was one of the four New York Times journalists kidnapped in Libya earlier this year, said she considers such questions to be “grossly offensive.”

“If a woman wants to be a war photographer, she should. It’s important,” Addario wrote in a first-person essay on the Times’ Lens blog. “Women offer a different perspective. We have access to women on a different level than men have, just as male photographers have a different relationship with the men they’re covering.” Addario said she’s sure she’ll cover another war because “It’s what I do.”

An issue that both women and men face

Addario, who said she was groped by a dozen men, doesn’t think that what happened to her was any worse than what happened to the three male photographers who were also kidnapped with her and beaten.

Both men and women face dangers in war zones. The media was reminded of this just a couple of weeks ago when photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed while documenting the conflict in Libya. Some male journalists have been open about the dangers they’ve faced, including Umar Cheema, a journalist who was kidnapped and molested while reporting out of Islamabad last year.

Wolfe said she hopes that Logan and other journalists’ decision to go public with their stories will motivate others to do the same — and in the long run make it easier to understand the scope of the issue and create awareness.

“We don’t have enough statistical research to find out how widespread sexual assault is among female journalists,” Wolfe said, “and I think it’s time we figure that out.”

Watch video of Lara Logan tell her story on “60 Minutes”:
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Lara Logan’s attack was an exception: The stories we miss about rape and sexual violence

The attack on CBS reporter Lara Logan is a reminder that sexual violence happens to people where they work; it happens to adults on streets, in cars, at parks; it happens to children in their homes, neighborhoods, places of worship. The stories we tell — and believe — are affected by where and how these crimes happen.

Picture Catherine, a 25-year-old from Brighton, Mass., robbed while walking home from her grandmother’s birthday party Friday night.

You have questions:

  • Was Catherine hurt?
  • What was taken?
  • Were the attackers caught?
  • And how old is her grandmother, anyway?

Now picture Catherine, a 25-year-old from Brighton, Mass., robbed while walking home from a bar Friday night.

You have other questions:

  • Was she drinking? Was she drunk?
  • Is she OK?
  • Who attacked her?

And finally, picture Catherine, a 25-year-old from Brighton, Mass., raped while walking home from a bar Friday night.

You have additional questions:

  • What was she wearing?
  • Did something happen at the bar?
  • Were there any witnesses? (This is sometimes a coded question, which can mean: How do we know she’s telling the truth?)

What if Catherine were Calvin, a 25-year-old man? What would we want to know? His size? His race? Were weapons involved?

If these crimes occurred the way they’re each described, how differently would these stories be written? Would they be written at all?

The latest estimates show that 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. Those women will not receive a call from the President of the United States or benefit from his efforts to demand justice, as Logan did after being attacked in Egypt while covering the celebration following President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

Most of the time, we do not even know a crime occurred. And when we do report on these crimes, we treat them differently.

We consider whether to call people victims or survivors. We sometimes let survivors decide whether their names are used (the accused has no choice):

  • Joanna Connors, a Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist who wrote a personal narrative in 2008 about her experience as a rape victim, said she believes more and more victims are going to want to start being identified — in part because it’s more acceptable to do so, but also because it can be a powerful part of the healing process. In a phone interview Wednesday with Poynter’s Mallary Tenore, Connors referenced a recent incident involving a rape victim who asked the Plain Dealer to publish her name, in part to encourage other rape victims to come forward.”We’re sort of at a mid-point where victims themselves are saying, ‘Enough of this,’” Connors said. “I would never argue that a victim has to have her name out there, but I think we may start to see victims say, ‘I want to talk about this because it’s empowering.’ “Victims often feel as though they’ve lost all control after a sexual assault, so giving them the option to be named can be helpful. “My basic thought is that you take your cues from the victim/survivor,” Connors said. “I think instead of assuming they don’t want their names used, which is what news organizations do, just ask and let them be the ones to decide.”

We use ambiguous language about the crime that can mask its violent nature.

  • Cara Tabachnick, news editor of, says this ambiguity can lead people to believe that the crime is not as bad as the victim and others are making it out to be. The best approach, she said, is to avoid euphemisms and tell it like it is.”I think being vague creates more questions than necessary,” Tabachnick said in a phone interview with Tenore this week. “You have to put enough details in the story so readers know that it’s not just someone putting their hand up a girl’s skirt and squeezing her butt.”For example, Tabachnick referred to a tweet by Nir Rosen, a NYU fellow who resigned after tweeting offensive remarks about CBS’ Logan. One of his tweets demonstrated that people do not always take sexual assault seriously. “Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women,” Rosen tweeted.Tabachnick said that reporting on the seriousness of sexual assault also requires a willingness to look at the long-term effects of this kind of crime. “How does this affect someone? How does it affect their ability to continue with their relationships, have sex and children of their own? I think it’s important to bring all that into the picture,” she said.
  • There are important differences between a victim and a survivor, a rapist, a pedophile, an abuser, sexual assault and rape. Let’s respect the range of sex crimes we cover, just as we use precise language to describe sexuality and race.

We question the circumstances of the crime.

  • Anna North, who wrote about the coverage of Logan’s attack for Jezebel, told Tenore she’s noticed that when journalists cover sexual violence, they sometimes try to identify causes of the crime in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t. “I think we need to be really careful when we talk about things like causes of sexual assault,” North said by phone on Wednesday. “It’s super easy to say that what Lara Logan was doing was dangerous, and really we shouldn’t be looking at what the victim has done but what the perpetrator has done. It’s not the victim’s responsibility to avoid sexual assault, and that’s something that gets lost in a lot of sexual assault coverage.”
  • Geneva Overholser pointed out via e-mail this week, violence in the line of reporting is a professional reality. “To say that women should not be putting themselves in violent situations is virtually akin to saying that women should not be journalists,” said Overholser, the director of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism, who has written about the importance of naming rape victims and their accusers.”Do we say that war reporters should not place themselves in the midst of war? There is a long history of holding women responsible for the acts of violence committed against them, and it is a sad history indeed, marked by injustice, ignorance and blindness to the real fault, which lies in the hands of those committing the violence.”

Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said crime accounted for 4 percent of news organizations’ overall coverage in 2010. It accounted for six percent of the coverage in 2009, 5 percent in 2008 and 8 percent in 2007.

Online news services had the most crime coverage (6 percent), compared to cable news (4 percent) and newspapers (about 3 percent, not including local crimes). PEJ only tracks crime coverage overall, so it can’t say how much of the coverage was related to sexual violence, Jurkowitz told Tenore by phone Thursday.

We usually hear about rape and sexual assaults under one of these circumstances:

These are the stories we miss:

  • Every two minutes, someone somewhere in the United States is sexually assaulted.
  • 2 in 3 sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
  • Sexual assaults have declined 60 percent since 1993 and not because fewer assaults are being reported, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

We miss many of these stories, in part, because the people involved don’t want them told. Sometimes we miss them because we start with breaking news, says Poynter’s Kelly McBride. If you begin with an individual crime, you focus on the specifics, the victim, the circumstances and lose the wider view. If we started at another point in the timeline of sexual violence, then we could tell different stories, she says.

Now picture Catherine, that 25-year-old from Brighton, Mass. She leaves her family’s bar after celebrating grandma’s birthday Friday night, and arrives home safely.

Editor’s Note: Mallary Tenore and I worked together on the concept for this piece. Mallary conducted all of the interviews and wrote those sections, while I did most of the other writing. Read more


In aftermath of Lara Logan attack, what to say about sexual assault

In the online comments about CBS reporter Lara Logan’s assault by an Egyptian mob, there are many examples of what not to say.

There is a lot of good writing about why such false logic persists. I won’t rehash it.

But what can you say about sexual assault? When bad information and horrible commentary are dominating a news story, I always find it helpful to look for facts that we know to be true and ask questions that might help our understanding.

  • Women are more likely than men to be victims of sexual assault. The statistics on this are conclusive, even though it’s hard to say what the real incidence of rape is. Because sexual assault is vastly under-reported to authorities, researchers turn to surveys to determine the actual incidence. Studies estimate that over the course of her lifetime, somewhere between 12 to 25 percent of women are sexually assaulted.
  • Children are commonly victims of sexual assault, so in that way, the attack on Logan, like most of the assaults that get news coverage, was out of the ordinary.
  • Sexual assault happens more often during times of war, civil unrest and in societies that don’t protect the civil rights of women. It is a crime used by oppressors as a weapon to intimidate and silence. Women in Egypt are talking about how common Logan’s experience is in their society.
  • It’s hard to say how many journalists are sexually assaulted in the course of doing their jobs. But female journalists face greater threats in some parts of the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented a handful of cases, according to communications director Gypsy Guillen Kaiser. “We are told about these things and it helps understand the risks,” she said. “We don’t always write about them, because sometimes we are told in confidentiality.” In 2005 CPJ documented a case where reporters covering Egyptian elections were beaten and at least one was threatened with rape.
  • We don’t know why Logan’s attackers assaulted her. Were they just an out-of-control mob? Were they pro-Mubarak supporters trying to intimidate outside journalists? Were they attacking her because of her ethnicity or a perception of her religion? We don’t know for sure. We might never know.
  • Most of the time, journalists do not reveal the names of survivors of sexual assault, because the crime is such an invasion of privacy. CBS officials said they released details of the assault on Logan after a reporter from the Associated Press called. One would assume Logan was part of that decision.
  • Most victims appreciate the privacy. Some do not. They feel that going nameless reinforces the notion that what happened to them wasn’t real, or wasn’t that bad, or was their fault.

My first instinct, when a reporter told me about Logan’s assault, was to be quiet. I thought about Logan’s privacy and about how I knew some would respond, blaming her for what happened. I didn’t want to add fuel to that fire.

But when we turn away from a sexual assault, we amplify the voices that would blame the victim or minimize the attack. Our instinct to avert our eyes leaves the victim to face a world of judgment on her own.

There is so much we can say about sexual assault. As a society, we rarely talk about it, until a particularly dramatic event. Then we talk about the circumstances of the event: Where was she? What happened? In asking those questions, we allow myths and suspicions to guide our conversations. But we forget to bring in all the facts that we do know.

So if we talk about Logan’s ordeal, let’s do so in the context of things we know to be true. Read more


Why did CNN blur men’s faces in photo of Logan?

Los Angeles Times
Scott Collins couldn’t get an answer from the network. “It is possible that CNN worried about legal liability,” he writes, “despite the fact that the image was taken in a public place during a thronged demonstration of pressing international interest and had been distributed through a wire service.”
Assault on Logan not surprising to other women journalists Read more


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