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How Could Nir Rosen Not Have Known his Lara Logan Tweets Crossed the Line?

4 years ago
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I'd never heard of Nir Rosen until Tuesday, when he became the author of the most reviled Tweets on the planet.

Shortly after CBS sent out a news release explaining that correspondent Lara Logan "suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating" from a crowd of Egyptians following the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Rosen started posting Tweets. (I'm cleaning up the language of his quotes here, by the way, but making no other changes.)

"Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. Where was her buddy McCrystal."

"Yes yes its wrong what happened to her. Of course. I don't support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too."

"Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women, which is still wrong, but if it was worse than I'm sorry."

His posts were quickly retweeted, triggering a tsunami of revulsion. Rosen took another post or two to realize what he'd stepped in:

"ah f--- it, I apologize for being insensitive, it's always wrong, that's obvious, but I'm rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get."

Shortly thereafter he got on the contrition train bigtime:

"i apologize and take it back. joking with friends got out of line when i didnt want to back down. forgot twitter is not exactly private"

"As someone who's devoted his career to defending victims and supporting justice, I'm very ashamed for my insensitive and offensive comments"

"I know that in a matter of seconds with a thoughtless joke, I brought shame upon myself and my family and added insult to Ms. Logan's injury"

Click play to watch video, where CNN's Anderson Cooper gets all het up about exactly what Rosen did or did not know when he started Tweeting. Seems rather beside the point to me. No context would make them more acceptable. But watch away:

So who is this guy? In short order I figured out two things:

He's not simply an idiot. Agree with his conclusions or not, he's got a body of work assembled by hard work and personal risk in some pretty harsh places. He's had articles published in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The New Republic, Boston Review, Time, Mother Jones, and World Policy Journal.

And he's not simply a butthead. If he didn't give a damn, he could have just ignored the reaction and smirked himself to his next assignment. Instead, he's been apologizing for two days. He resigned from his position as Fellow at the Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law.

See, for contrast, how Ann Coulter responded to criticisms after she wrote this about some of the widows of the 9/11 attack:

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

If Coulter offered an apology, I'm unable to find it.

So Rosen isn't simply a dope or a jerk. (Although as my PD colleague Matt Lewis points out, Rosen does have a history of dehumanizing entire classes of people wth whom he disagrees.) Nor is he some Internet newbie, unaccustomed to the power and reach of the new media. He stands in a growing line of people who should have known better, including, say Octavia Nasr and Dave Weigel, who got bit in the butt by the irretrievably public nature of the Internet.

What was Rosen thinking? I asked him. He's got an easily located website and e-mail address. We exchanged some messages. Basically, he says, he wasn't thinking:

"it was the twitter equivalent of blurting something out. i had no expectations because i just didnt think of it."

But how is that possible?

"in those few minutes i didnt think about it, you're lying in bed late at night (i'm in the middle east), just f---ing around on the internet thoughtlessly"

When did you realize you'd crossed a line?

"well i was just a d--- at that moment. then i realized that she had been sexually assaulted (i just thought she was roughed up at first), and i realized that this had grown way past people i knew and felt comfortable joking around with and thousands of people i didnt know were taking me seriously, and i realized i was f---ed"

While not defending his Tweets, he did suggest the massive reaction had something to do with politics.

"i was unthinking, but there was also a mob element to this, and its because i'm a leftist, i'm not defending myself, but i think its fair to observe that if i were a right wing pundit this would not have happened."

I'm not so sure of that. Coulter was widely condemned for her 9/11 quote. On the other hand, she suffered no loss of position or popularity among her fans that I can discern.

What's the takeway? Everybody repeat after me: Nothing is private on the Internet. Not an e-mail. Not a Tweet. Not a blog post. Before you hit the "send" button, you always, always need to think about what those words would look like in the New York Times or stripped across the Drudge or Huffington home pages.

Or you can end up like Nir Rosen, whose conscience eventually kicked in:

"i realized it several minutes too late, i was tired, in bed, watching tv."
Filed Under: Media, Culture, Ethics, Egypt Crisis

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"See, for contrast, how Ann Coulter responded to criticisms after she wrote this about some of the widows of the 9/11 attack:"
I do not see, since you have not articulate anything of sorts in the article. By the way, a simple google search will help you with your sought answer.

February 18 2011 at 1:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What is wrong with a reporter wanting to be better than another reporter? Don't they do that all the time, jockey for the best time slot, try to get the best story? That's their job. Why is it that when a beautiful woman does it, it becomes an excuse for abuse?
This guy just revealed what he really thinks and thus who he really is, a Leftist with not much compassion for a fellow journalist and human being. NOBODY deserves to be treated like this woman was treated and that has nothing to do with politics. Men don't have the right to grope women...and real men don't have to be well rested to know that. Apology accepted but depth of sincerity in doubt.

February 17 2011 at 10:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

there is no reason for her to be ashamed she was trying to work. she should be allowed to do that without being harassed the men who did this were wrong period. this woman did nothing wrong.

February 17 2011 at 8:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Lara Logan is one of the finest reporters on the news today for almost 20 years she has been a hard working honest reporter,and an equality fine person.
I look forward to her return. God bless,
J Willis

February 17 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

..."i was unthinking, but there was also a mob element to this, and its because i'm a leftist, i'm not defending myself, but i think its fair to observe that if i were a right wing pundit this would not have happened."
Claiming victimhood ~ are you kidding me??? A plain and simple "I am stupid and I am sorry" would go a lot further...

February 17 2011 at 4:38 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

What's most interesting to me about the coverage of this assault is just that, the coverage.

Israel has been actually murdering members of the press for years now, with little or no notice from the MSM. But when it is the Egyptian Government that is behind non-letahl attacks on members of the press (make no mistake, this band of "thugs" were connected with Mubarek's folks, who detained and warned her a couple of weeks earlier), there is an international outcry.

I agree with the outcry in this case - it is the media blackout of Israeli MURDERS of press members that irks the heck out of me.

February 17 2011 at 2:42 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to lru14's comment

Please list some of these murders so that I may understand what you are talking about.Also...could you tell me exactly how you know these were Mubarack paid thugs and not just some ordinary rapist thugs?

February 17 2011 at 4:02 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Yes, bolo5000, some answers to your requests would certainly be in order.

February 17 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Mr. King is appalled that Rosen feels as if he can say "what he wants, when he wants."

Newsflash John: We STILL have freedom of speech in this country (at least what's left of it, what with the hate crimes laws and political correctness gone amok).

February 17 2011 at 2:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lru14's comment

There has been no freedom of speech violation. Freedom of speech doesn't mean you get to say what you want when you want without consequences. I don't understand how Americans can't get one of the fundamental principles of our country right. Please read the text of the first amendment.

February 17 2011 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Loved by God

I actually wondered what was meant by a sustained sexual attack myself. Whatever happened to her, it's unfortunate but I think she's incredibly brave for having the guts to not hang her head in shame. Having said that, I also first thought that it probably meant groping - which I read frequently happens to the women on a daily basis in Egypt.

February 17 2011 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The awful thing is that this guy, Rose, was right, many people were attacked and hurt, or even killed but no one really made a big report about them, they just became a number on the casualty list. Anderson Cooper is no Ted Koppel or Edward R Morrow. He started out pretty good, but seems to have let fame go to this head. Even still that is not a reason for Rosen to be such an A - Hole. This is why people have such little respect for journalists now. It is not about journalism, but sensationalism. The tabloids that are in the supermarket line have had their model taken to heart by NBC ABC CBS CNBC FOX etc. There are few journalists reporting facts anymore, most of it is opinion. That is why I listen to NPR and BBC.

February 17 2011 at 11:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to prideventures's comment
Loved by God

You're right prideventures. I'm old enough to remember when news meant giving people facts. Informing them. Now it's entertainment. Fox news frequently leads with what's happening on American Idol. It's sad and the average American is too wrapped up in the entertainment to realize that they are not getting the facts. That's how the middle class is being wiped out - by not being informed.

February 17 2011 at 12:06 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

So NPR and BBC are impartial? Another case of they may be fabricators, but they are my fabricators.

February 17 2011 at 5:46 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I'm only commenting on the observations about Ann Coulter not having appeared to lose any standing with her "fans" because of her comments about the 9/11 widows. To be a fan of Ann Coulter for any length of time, I think you have to like her abrasive approach. I am not. I do not. Ann Coulter may be an economic conservative, she may even be a political conservative, but in the moral arena - in my mind - she represents everything about liberal, "liberated" women that has undermined, undercut and devalued what a conservative woman should be. I don't watch her, I don't read her, I don't follow her on Twitter. Her theme song should be, "American Woman, Get Away From Me."

February 17 2011 at 11:12 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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