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Was Lara Logan's Bravery Dangerous Bravado?

3 years ago
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There are risks to being an uppity woman. The down side of being a role model is that women who act like they own the place inevitably tick people off as much as they inspire.

Lara Logan, the glamorous and seemingly fearless CBS Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent who was attacked last Friday in Cairo during the moments of chaos following President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, is the kind of woman who gets noticed. She has one of the hardest and most prestigious jobs in journalism and she got it in spite of, or because of, a habit of saying and doing whatever she wanted to.

I don't know Logan personally, but as the newest diva on the oldest and most respected TV news magazine in the business, her work is inescapable. For what it is worth, in the tiny world among her co-workers and neighbors, where we both live and toil, she is also a force. Even before joining the ranks of legendary journalists sharing space with Sunday night's tireless ticking clock, Logan was putting a fresh face on the iconic image of girl reporters. During the early days of the Iraq war she emerged (allegedly from South Africa but possibly from a planet of Amazons) as the straight-talking CBS war correspondent who had the rare quality of looking like she was born in front of a camera.

She was embraced as the thinking man's news babe with attitude, not afraid to criticize even her own news department. Appearing on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" in June 2008, she told Jon Stewart, if she had to watch the watered-down version of the war in Iraq the American public was exposed to, "I'd blow my brains out."

The fall of Egypt's government, after weeks of public demonstrations in the very square from which she was seized, had been televised by Logan herself, along with her colleagues in the international press.

On Tuesday, CBS reported, in the most economic of dispatches, that she was brutally sexually attacked and beaten by a mob of thugs. It was several hours after the melee had separated her from her crew before she was rescued by some courageous Egyptian women accompanied by armed soldiers. It was the second time in the short, televised revolution that Logan had been captured, interrogated and released, the previous incident by the Egyptian army.

It seemed to some like her risks put her on a collision course with catastrophe. But risks are the stock in trade of both war correspondents and ambitious women. Sure the job is dangerous, her fans noted, but Lara Logan is brave. Courage however does not protect -- it simply helps one to endure.

The circumstances of Logan's personal peril, however cursorily related, have been extraordinarily affecting because, like Logan, they occurred in a larger-than-life moment of history. But for women, the violent incident has a familiar and intimate resonance. Until this tragic attack, the "60 Minutes" correspondent came off as a wonder woman whose "intrepid hotness" paired with sassy self-confidence, brains and ambition made men notice her and women envy her. The day of her attack, Foster Kamer at Esquire asked her not unkindly, "Is CBS insured for this shit? Are you insane?" Her answer, with typical Logan confidence: "You know, I don't worry about things like that."
Now inevitably, the question of whether those confident qualities also got her burned occurs. Should she have dimmed the wick a bit? Even in a throng of thousands of Middle Easterners, a towheaded Western woman in lipstick draws attention. A head scarf would seem prudent from hindsight -- but it's difficult to argue that the gesture of cultural consciousness would have guaranteed her safety. It might be that her intense gravitational force helped her survive at least as much as it incited aggression. After she was detained and interrogated by the army Logan was sent back to the U.S. but returned to Cairo in time for Mubarak's departure.

"There's no doubt in my mind that the situation we were caught in before, we are now arriving into again," she told Esquire. "We were accused of being Israeli spies. We were accused of being agents. We were accused of everything." (The New York Post reported that during her subsequent attack and beating, the mob was chanting "Jew, Jew.")
These questions and more for her anguished crew will no doubt eventually be answered (a reporting shoot requires a tiny family to function: the correspondent out front and wired with a microphone; a producer wearing the hat of business manager, organizer, fixer, and paterfamilias; a cameraperson, who assures once-in-a-lifetime images are captured -- and heavy expensive equipment is vouchsafed; and a sound technician who hears and checks whatever comes through the correspondent's microphone). Although the "60 Minutes" team is in the news business, that report will wait until she is ready. In time, we will hear directly from the reporter how she persevered in the moments and hours after they were separated. That is her story to tell.

In my experience, near-death experiences are often followed by great periods of productivity. As Logan recovers, I expect, as strong women often do, she'll find a way to make use of her unthinkable experience to enhance our understanding of the times. That is her calling and her craft.

In the meantime, as a sister in arms, I'll light a candle to women who "woman up" despite what consequences await them.
Filed Under: Woman Up, Egypt Crisis

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6 Comments

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minnieh6

Yep, she's brave alright and Hail her passion abroad Wow! Determined women always are. So am I and I've made great strides in my efforts and passion for change right here. But rest a-while now Lara, And let somebody else go next time OK?
Cause You did good and you're alive Thank God

March 01 2011 at 2:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
oldengineera2

As a lifelong appreciator of, son of, grandson of, and husband of uppity women, I would have to say yes. Politically correct notions do not trump the reality on the ground, and savvy women get this.

February 17 2011 at 9:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rastalif

the blame goes to cbs and other network...you drop these reporters in hotspots all over the world defenseless...these networks make millions of dollars per year..why not hire security gaurds for these reporters...2 or 3 guards would have made a difference ms.logan

cbs cheapness gets you nowhere and get your employees attacked

February 17 2011 at 10:45 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Lizzie

Here we go: well-meaning folks who are unclear on the concept. Don't try to turn the victim into the villain. The woman was doing her job, and she was attacked by a pack of jackals masquerading as adult human males. It is not her fault she was attacked; it is theirs.

February 17 2011 at 12:51 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
DARRELL

I’ve never understood people who seem unable to recognize serious danger when they see it. I have a daughter who’s has this problem but she is mentally challenged. I have seen and heard Ms. Logan’s above average ability…What in the world was she thinking?!!! I sincerely hope she does not allow this experience to paralyze her for life….That does not mean she has to re-enter dangerous territory to prove it. Be a little smarter next time young lady and please get well!

February 16 2011 at 7:39 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
copterdude118

I am sickened and disgusted by the thought of a mob of savages attacking a defenseless woman. Real men protect the innocent. Real men come to the rescue. Is there even an Islamic word for chivalry? These attackers and those who looked on and did nothing are not men. They are barbarians, cruel and evil. It took a bunch of woman and then eventually some soldiers to come to her rescue? What a sad day for humanity and a shameful day for Egypt. And those who blame the victim should think again. You can't blame Logan for being brutalized for doing her job any more than you can blame a soldier, policeman, or first responder for being injured in the line of duty. She knows her job has risks and dangers, but her job is her passion and it is a noble one.

February 16 2011 at 5:47 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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