It’s not just the lack of corroboration that makes me suspicious of Logan’s sexual assault claim. It’s her own reaction, or lack thereof. Forget the twaddle about sexual assault victims being too depressed and terrified to “come foward.” That may be the average victim. But Lara Logan is absolutely not average, and certainly not a timid, powerless little nobody who has to fear the police, idiot neighbors or sneering classmates. She is a wealthy, sophisticated 40-year-old woman who has spent 10 years in war zones, who saw a soldier’s leg blown off next to her in a tank, who has a huge machine of support behind her. She’s not your 12-year-old daughter. She’s not even you. She wasn’t embarrassed about the Baghdad Love Triangle, she wasn’t embarrassed about having the baby of a still-married man with a toddler, and she wouldn’t be embarrassed about this.
Lara Logan is clearly not one of those people who feels like bad treatment is her fault. And she may be a lightweight, she may be a bimbo, but she is not a weakling and does not lack confidence. No way do I buy that she’s too traumatized to talk. She talks for a living. She exposes other people — many much less wealthy and famous than she is — to public scrutiny for a living. And we’re just supposed to swallow the minimal misleading press release that has made her a household word, wish her well, and “respect her privacy?” Any self-respecting journalist would roll her eyes at the hypocrisy.
And if this really did happen to her, she is, above all else, furious. Ever talked to a real sex crime victim? They want heads on pikes. And they talk, oh yes, given an opportunity they will talk until their throat dries out. Even kids (I have seen them testify. “How did that make you feel?” Ten-year-old witness: “I want to punch him in the nose!”) They welcome the opportunity to bear loud and angry witness.
So why is none of that happening? She has one of the biggest voices in the world right now, and the perfect opportunity to help locate and punish her attackers, reward her rescuers, and focus attention on sexual harassment and assault of women, and female reporters, in Arab countries. Yet she refuses comment.
Here’s what CBS should have sent out immediately:
This evening [because we’re not going to conceal this news while a thousand other reporters are potentially in danger!], correspondent Lara Logan suffered [major? moderate?] injuries during a mob attack in Tahrir Square. Ms. Logan was attacked when she was separated from her crew and surrounded by a mob. She was rescued from further harm by a group of female Egyptian protesters and a group of Egyptian soldiers. Her injuries required hospitalization, for which she returned to the United States immediately.
I could see where it might take a few days to sort out and figure out how to handle the sexual battery element. Logan herself should have followed up with a clarifying statement, something along these lines:
“I want to thank the public for the outpouring of support and concern I have received regarding the incident at Tahrir. I also extend my gratitude to the brave Egyptian woman and soldiers who offered their assistance. I understand their have been rumors that the attack against me was sexual in nature. Those reports are true. I was surrounded by a mob, struck multiple times, had my two front teeth knocked out [I’m making that up for example — ST], and was grabbed and battered sexually and had my clothes torn. Thankfully, I was not raped, due to the intervention of those brave female protesters. They deserve the gratitude of their countrymen and ours.
Unfortunately, as many of us who cover foreign wars know, my experience is not unique. Many reporters have suffered similar attacks. Some were not as lucky as I was. In addition, the women of may of the countries we cover suffer worse fates every day. Women’s rights, yadda yadda yadda they should be treated a lot better, I only hope I’ve increased awareness so others may be helped etc. I and my producers are reviewing tapes of the square that night and will bring forward any leads we have to U.S. and Egyptian authorities, and will be very grateful for any assistance from the public in stringing up these bastards by their balls.” [I hate press releases, but you get the idea].
Yet for some reason, Logan is choosing to act like a fictional sexual assault victim. Precious, delicate, traumatized into silence. Recovering in private. Letting the concerned public assume the worst about her condition and her injuries. Stoking the buzz. Maybe she just doesn’t want to invite the scrutiny that the other approach — the real, angry, public approach — would bring.
Update: Finally, some independent reporting, although it’s unsourced. The Times of London (through the NY Daily News, because it’s behind a paywall) indicates the mob actually attacked the entire crew, calling them spies and Israelis, and Logan was separated at that time. This should be extremely verifiable (so let’s hear from some named witnesses, dammit!). The attack doesn’t sound nearly as sexual in this story, however. Apparently some or all of her clothes were torn off, and she was beaten with fists and flagpoles, and suffered welts from “aggressive pinching.” Sounds pretty bad, but I’ll bet it’s not what all those sympathetic readers envisioned when they read “brutal and sustained sexual assault” in the CBS press release.