December 1, 2021

What the heck happened to Lara Logan? She used to be a respected journalist. She even was a correspondent on “60 Minutes” — the gold standard of TV news shows. They don’t hire just anybody for that program.

But Logan was a long way from that iconic clicking stopwatch Monday night when, as a guest commentator, she appeared on Fox News and drew a comparison between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.


During a conversation claiming the Biden administration was overhyping the recently-discovered omicron variant of COVID-19, Logan said on the “Fox News Primetime” opinion show, “What you see on Dr. Fauci — this is what people say to me: that he doesn’t represent science to them. He represents Josef Mengele. Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who did experiments on Jews during the Second World War and in the concentration camps. And I am talking about people all across the world are saying this, because the response from COVID, what it has done to countries everywhere, what it has done to civil liberties, the suicide rates, the poverty, it has obliterated economies. The level of suffering that has been created because of this disease is now being seen in the cold light of day.”

Comparing Fauci to one of the most evil figures in world history? That’s just gross. I’d say that’s way beneath Logan, but it honestly wasn’t that shocking to hear her say something so disgusting. She has turned into a news version of a shock jock. Sadly, the host of Monday’s show, Pete Hegseth, didn’t raise an eyebrow.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr, “there’s absolutely no comparison between mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and other covid-19 mitigation efforts to what happened to Jews during the Holocaust. … This includes making outlandish and offensive analogies suggesting that somehow Dr. Anthony Fauci is akin to Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, known for his gruesome medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners.”

The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “Utterly shameful. Josef Mengele earned his nickname by performing deadly and inhumane medical experiments on prisoners of the Holocaust, including children.

@LaraLogan, there is no comparing the hell these victims went through to public health measures. An apology is needed.”

The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted, “Exploiting the tragedy of people who became victims of criminal pseudo-medical experiments in Auschwitz in a debate about vaccines, pandemic and people who fight for saving human lives is shameful. It is disrespectful to victims & a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline.”

As I said, Logan, 50, used to be taken seriously as a journalist. She started at CBS in 2002 and quickly gained a solid reputation for doing good reporting from dangerous war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq. She ended up staying until 2018, her reputation badly damaged by a debunked 2013 story about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Logan was forced to take a leave of absence and apologized on air for the inaccuracies in the story.

After leaving CBS, Logan became a fierce critic of the “liberal media.” She briefly worked for Sinclair and then signed on with the streaming service Fox Nation. With a straight face, she calls her show, “Lara Logan Has No Agenda.” That would be laughable if these topics weren’t so serious. Logan is also an occasional guest on Fox News.

Her comments about Fauci were the most controversial she made in the past week, but not the only ones. Appearing on Judge Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show last Saturday, Logan said Sweden has had no vaccinations. That’s not true. Nearly 16 million doses have been administered in Sweden. She also said — during a somewhat unhinged rant — “every oncologist who deals with bone cancer identifies hundreds of coronaviruses within our bones.” Where did Logan get that claim?

Washington Post national correspondent Philip Bump wrote about Logan in his piece, “When once-respected journalists move to the fringe.”

Bump sums it up well when he writes about Logan, “Now she mostly generates headlines not for her reporting but for her opinions.”

I’ll go a bit farther. She isn’t known for her reporting at all, but only for saying outlandish stuff. I’m not sure if she thinks about what she says before she says it or not — and I’m not sure which would be worse.

Mediaite’s Jackson Richman writes, “Logan’s remarks are just another example of why she is not fit for air. Since joining Fox News in 2019, the veteran journalist has pushed a series of insane conspiracy theories that have embarrassed the network, and yet she continues to appear on the air.”

Barr has more about Logan in a story for the Post.


Early- and mid-career journalists, apply by Dec. 10 for $10,000 reporting fellowship

Apply today for the Higher Education Media Fellowship, which aims to increase the number of journalists equipped with the tools and networks they need to deliver comprehensive coverage on postsecondary education, particularly career and technical education. Win a $10,000 award — $5,000 as a stipend and $5,000 towards a reporting project. Details here. Open to all media types.

A heartbreaking split

Will Ferrell, left, and Adam McKay in 2013. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)

Oh no, say it ain’t so. This might be the most depressing thing I’ve heard all week. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay — the geniuses who collaborated to make classics such as “Anchorman,” “Step Brothers” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” — are no longer speaking.

In an interview with Vanity Fair’s Joe Hagan, McKay takes the blame for the reason the two are not currently on speaking terms. It’s all because McKay was working on a limited series for HBO about the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s. (It’s an adaptation of Jeff Pearlman’s book “Showtime.”) Ferrell, a big Lakers fan, was cast to play late Lakers owner Jerry Buss. But McKay had doubts about his longtime working partner in that role.

He told Hagan, “Ferrell just doesn’t look like Jerry Buss, and he’s not that vibe of a Jerry Buss. And there were some people involved who were like, ‘We love Ferrell, he’s a genius, but we can’t see him doing it.’”

So McKay ended up casting Ferrell’s other good friend, John C. Reilly, to play Buss. But McKay didn’t break that news to Ferrell. Turns out, Reilly broke the news to Ferrell.

Not long after, Ferrell and McKay announced their production company was splitting up after what sounded like a pretty icy phone call.

McKay told Hagan, “I said, ‘Well, I mean, we’re splitting up the company,’ … And he basically was like, ‘Yeah, we are,’ and basically was like, ‘Have a good life.’ And I’m like, ‘(Expletive), Ferrell’s never going to talk to me again.’ So it ended not well.”

McKay admits now he didn’t handle the casting of the Lakers series well.

“I should have called him and I didn’t,” McKay said. “And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he’s a stand-up guy. … I (screwed) up on how I handled that. It’s the old thing of keep your side of the street clean. I should have just done everything by the book.”

And, for now, the two remain on the outs.

OK, I’m going to go off into a corner to cry now.

The local news issue

For this item, I turn it over to my Poynter colleague Kristen Hare, who has written extensively about local news over the years.

The Washington Post Magazine’s latest issue is devoted to a single topic, local news. I served as an adviser on the issue, and I really appreciate the approach the magazine team took, showing what’s lost — not through just numbers or maps — but through hiring local journalists around the country to tell stories that weren’t getting told. We often focus on capital D Democracy and the role local journalism plays in it, and it is critical. But it’s easy to lose sight of the kind of stories that stitch us together as communities, like the self-taught painter in Alabama, the Indiana teacher sparking a love of architecture in his students and the Kansas landowners working to save the prairie. This issue shows that, and more, beautifully.

And more local news  …

Here’s one more item from Kristen Hare about local news:

You know that all news is local. But it’s easy to forget that local newsrooms are almost always where national stories start. This nuanced piece by Janell Ross for Time Magazine tells the story of the local reporter who covered Ahmaud Arbery’s murder and kept asking questions. I shared other examples with Ross of big stories that started from the work of local journalists, including the Miami Herald’s coverage of Jeffrey Epstein, The Indianapolis Star’s coverage of Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics and the Albany Times Union’s coverage of the sex cult Nxivm. I told Ross, “That work is, at the local level, really hard, poorly paid and rarely recognized.”

USA Today’s project on climate change

(Courtesy: USA Today Network)

Here’s a heads up on a major investigative project tied to climate change from the USA Today Network. It’s up just this morning on USA Today’s website.

USA Today spent months examining how rising temperatures have impacted precipitation patterns across the United States. For example, centuries-old patterns are changing, leading to more flooding in some areas and more droughts in others. That makes it nearly impossible for officials to plan for these major changes.

The main piece in the package explains the science of it all, as well as its impact. To quote from the USA Today statement, companion pieces include:

  • Graphics explainer. A visual explainer of the science behind how a warming planet has altered precipitation patterns with charts and graphs showing the impact of that change.
  • Interactive climate look-up. A stand-alone feature allowing readers to plug in their ZIP code and find localized information about precipitation trends and future projections. This feature might be embedded in the main story file and/or pulled into a separate story file.
  • The sound of climate change. What if you could hear climate change? Listen to music based on a century of rainfall data. Three composers from Florida’s Full Sail University “sonified” more than a century of precipitation data from select U.S. states, resulting in three different pieces of music that let people listen to the impacts of climate change on rainfall.

Big move at CBS News

Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews has been named executive vice president of newsgathering for CBS News. In this new role, Ciprian-Matthews will have editorial oversight for network newsgathering worldwide, including all domestic and international bureaus. Ciprian-Matthews had been executive vice president and CBS News Washington bureau chief since July 2020.

In a statement, Neeraj Khemlani, president and co-head of CBS News and Stations, said, “Drawing on her years of experience leading teams from Washington to London to New York, Ingrid will be a tremendous asset in unifying CBS News’ newsgathering into one powerhouse operation. We’re fortunate to have someone with Ingrid’s expertise, savvy and editorial judgment in this key role, as we continue to deliver world-class journalism to our daily programs and digital platforms.”

The search is underway for a new Washington bureau chief.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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