I’ve loved to hate Lara Logan ever since CBS fired an older, more experienced female reporter to bring her on (here’s me and TL going at it back in 2005). Before she became the poster girl for sexual harassment in the Middle East (link is to a South African publication with more info than the press release - she wasn’t actually raped*), Logan was known for an unprofessionally sexual persona at least as well as she was known for her war reporting. It’s not that she was completely worthless as a reporter — at least she has a long reporting resume — but her behavior and personal presentation suggested, well, bimbo. Her low-cut tank tops, breast implants, and her groupielike attitude toward the military made her seem more appropriate for Fox News.
I could count on Logan for a good pissing-off at least every couple years. Last year, she sucked up to the military by publicly castigating another war reporter for
scooping her daring to report disrespectful things soldiers said about the administration (see another Rolling Stone reporter’s response in Lara Logan, You Suck) ; in 2008, the still-married Logan got proudly pregnant with a married high-up military contractor’s baby (they are now married and have a second child). His then-wife and mother of his 3-year-old was so distraught she overdosed on tranquilizers. In response to the scandal, Logan told the Washington Post a poor-me story about how people just don’t understand how it is when you’re overseas on assignment, and she’d lost a fallopian tube to an ectopic pregnancy so, gee, she’d thought at the ripe old age of 37 she wouldn’t get pregnant. (Remember this example of how when her actions are in question, Logan tells a sad story about herself with graphic detail.**)
But last week I read this CBS press release, and my distaste for Logan went temporarily on ice. That’s how we women are; when we hear about a “brutal and sustained sexual assault,” we identify and empathize. We dislike it so much that even when it happens to someone we dislike, we still get really mad. And as I searched Google looking for more information, I felt even worse for Logan, because every site that linked to the story had male commenters sneering about how she deserved it, and using her misfortune to grind their axes against just about every type of woman who exists. They meant me, too.
So let’s review my political options: 1) Scheming bimbo TV reporter; 2) The pro-rape lobby. It’s not hard to pick my side.
But that’s in public; on the Internet, “Sheila Tone” can voice her nuanced suspicions without fear of getting her eyes clawed out. It’s ironic that my feminist views are why I dislike Logan, but now they’re why I have to support her (inasmuch as being a “feminist” means “I REALLY don’t want to be sexually assaulted.”) . Ironic, but perfect sense. And it’s ironic that the same sexism I think is responsible for Logan’s rise (if we have to have a woman doing this job, let’s pick a youngish hottie with fake boobs) is now directed against her due to her alleged mistreatment by men. As I was combing Google for more information, I got suspicious of the one-source story. I wrote a post about my suspicions, looking for clues or additional insight. You’d think at least her detractors would be interested in discrediting her, but I still got some of the same piggish treatment the bro-net gave Logan.
It seems there is no group of people interested in questioning Logan’s story. If she is lying, she’s picked the perfect lie. It’s got something for everyone. Let’s review how her story validates the feelings of some diverse groups:
1) Jewish people. Jewish people fear anti-Semitism, especially from Arabs. And although it wasn’t in CBS’s press release, some nameless source told the NY Post that Logan’s Arab attackers were yelling “Jew!” So even though Logan isn’t Jewish, now she’s got their unquestioning sympathy. Her story supports the view that even average Arabs are dangerously anti-Semitic. I’ve got a Facebook friend from the college paper, another feminist former reporter, who would usually smell bullshit in such an uncorroborated, convenient story. But she’s also really scared of Arabs. She says even if there were lots of witnesses and good Samaritans, no one would speak of it publicly because they’d be terrified of being identified as someone who “helped a Jew.” Even soldiers. Even though they were willing to actually help her publicly. A lot of feminists and reporters are Jewish, and those are the folks we’d normally count on to scrutinize Logan.
2) People who don’t like Arabs. This one’s self-explanatory.
3 ) Sexist pigs. So why wouldn’t they challenge Logan’s story? Apparently because it’s more fun to think it actually did happen. Also, to challenge her truthfulness is basically admitting it is a big deal if it did happen, and a lot of these guys have the agenda that sexual assault is no big deal. Finally, many of these guys fall into category No. 2.
4) Women, especially female reporters. Apparently sexual harassment and assault of women in public, especially reporters, has been common in the Middle East and in war zones. Usually it consists of catcalls or groping, but there have been rapes and attempted rapes of foreign correspondents. Often it goes unreported because the women are embarrassed, or fear they’ll lose assignments. Logan’s story benefits them by drawing attention to their plight. And if we question her account, we’re criticizing her, and we’re siding with the sexist pigs and against all the real victims.
But here’s one of the suspicious things: While this may be true about war zones in general, it doesn’t appear this is how it was in Egypt during the protests. Here’s something by a female Slate reporter who was there: ).
What happened to Logan is every woman’s nightmare, but it’s also atypical. Most cases of sexual assault in Egypt are not as gruesome as Logan’s experience, they are instead much like what happens to Husseinóa near constant stream of verbal harassment and the odd groping.
But according to Hussein and from what I observed, Midan Tahrir during the 18-day Tahrir encampment was different. Logan’s assault is even more demoralizing for Egyptian women because it comes at a time when they truly believe things are changing for the better.
Harassment was at an all-time low during the protests. … Other women I spoke with inside Tahrir at the time remarked on the same thing. Many hope their role in the revolt that removed Mubarak’s 30-year regime has changed attitudes toward their gender.
And here’s a Jewish Journal commenter, “MLE,” who claims to be an actual Jewish woman who was also in the area that night, speaking as to the supposed anti-Semitism leading to Logan’s assault:
This is absolutely false. I am a Jewish female and I was in Midan Tahrir that evening and there were no problems. Everyone was celebrating and the xenophobic tones of the past few days were completely absent. I actually was surprised how safe I had felt because I had bad encounters in other massive crowds.
I didn’t cherry-pick this stuff. There just isn’t much out there. Which is, again, why I’m suspicious. Where are all the other women agreeing “Yeah, it was really creepy there that night?”
But why would Logan lie? Well, women lie about rape (or unspecified sexual assault) for the same reasons people lie about anything else. Usually it’s 1) for personal gain; or 2) to get out of a bind. The fact that fear of sexist pigs makes most women feel they have to believe the claimant makes it an especially effective lie.
As for personal gain, I conditionally agree with Chuck of “Piggy.” If you think Logan isn’t going to benefit from this, you’re either naive or stupid. It’s average women who don’t benefit from sexual assault. Average victims — average reporters — legitimately fear bad social effects from sexual assault. But not criminals ***– and not rich famous women. Lara Logan gets a phone call from Obama. Lara Logan, former tabloid-fodder bimbo, is now a bulletproof hero, a cause celebre. Only someone with a heart of … stone … would dare to bring up her weaknesses as a reporter and her questionable sexual past. Her critics only increase her public sympathy.
As for No. 2, getting out of a bind: A real possibility. Remember, Logan and her crew got tossed out of Egypt on their ears at the beginning of the protests. Meanwhile, the other networks were getting the story. I could see this causing some problems with CBS. Logan finally came back, and unrelated to any stories she reported became the most discussed reporter from the event. She accomplished little in Egypt, yet her name is now a household word.
Victim or not, she sucks. But you guys suck even more, because you’re the reason she’ll get away with it. She, of all people, gets to be compensated in spades for your misogyny.
* Her clothes were torn off her and she would have been raped, but for Egyptian female protesters throwing themselves across her body! So moving … yet so unsubstantiated.
** After she and her crew got detained in Egypt and then kicked out for allegedly spying, and she felt she’d failed, she told a story of being cruelly interrogated, so sick she was vomiting in her cell and needed an IV. She’d been sick for days before, you see, and the poor brave dear didn’t tell anyone because she was so dedicated to her job. But yet again, our only witness to this extreme suffering is Logan herself.
***Because I talk to a lot of them in my job. “I disappeared for two months and couldn’t drug test … because I was RAPED! Yeah, that’s the ticket.” (Did you call the police?) “No, um, I was scared he’d come after me.” Most of the excuses I heard have nothing to do with rape, but the excuse is more frequent than I would have expected. Doesn’t work though.