Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Girl reporter this

If you watch a lot of network news, you probably already know Lara Logan. The 37-year-old South African native is an Emmy, Overseas Press Club and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She was recently named Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent at CBS. She has reported for the “CBS Evening News,” “60 Minutes” and “The Early Show.” She has been embedded in the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war correspondent almost non-stop since 2001. She is smart, tough, funny and a vocal critic of the press coverage of the war. She is also beautiful.

That last bit tends to get in the way with some folks. Like, say, The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz. His column yesterday wasn’t about her new promotion. It wasn’t about her perspective on the war. It wasn’t about her many accomplishments. No, instead it was about her sex life. You see, while stationed in Iraq for the last four years, Lara had the audacity to have a personal life. And now, she is unexpectedly pregnant. Her partner and father of her child is a married, but separated, American contractor she met while in Iraq. Alert the press! Quelle scandal! Where are those Scarlet Letters when you need them!

The tabloids latched onto this “story” first. But Kurtz’s column reads more like the National Enquirer than the paper of Woodward and Bernstein. Before he gets to anything more than her cursory job title, I know the names of and circumstances surrounding her last three relationships. First there was her husband, though they had long-ago separated. Then she had an “intense relationship” with another journalist in Baghdad that ended in November. And then her new partner, a federal contractor she had been friends with before.

Kurtz makes sure to assure us that they “plan to get married eventually” and then, only then, does he bother to list any of her actual credentials. His column dissolves further into the kind of tawdry he said/she said ugly divorce trash normally relegated to the pages of supermarket rags. We even get a quote from her partner’s estranged wife who called Lara’s promotion “a slap in the face to everyone who believes in marriage.”

The thing is, would they ever run a story like this on a male correspondent’s personal life? Would the specter of “homewrecker” come up with a male reporter? Would an “unplanned” pregnancy be an issue for a male journalist? Would any of this even be on The Washington Post’s radar if Lara wasn’t beautiful?

I’ve never read any mainstream press coverage of the fact that Keith Olbermann has a 24-year-old live-in girlfriend. He is 49, by the way, which means the age difference between them is older than she is. No mainstream media has had the nerve to poke through Anderson Cooper’s closet to see exactly what he has hiding in there. (My guess, chaps and a harness – who’s your daddy, Coop?) And the sundry details of Bill O’Reilly and his loofah fetish are, well – OK, actually I’m glad those never got more widely publicized. Shudder.

What makes Lara’s story different? Because she is a woman? Because she is unwed and pregnant? Because she is beautiful? What fucking century is this, again?

The only good news out of this is that Lara, clearly, has bigger and more important things on her mind than the salacious selling of her private life. Her appearance last month on The Daily Show showed that she is the kind of woman who has, what my grandma used to call, “a good head on her shoulders.” Sure, my grandma might not like all the cussing, but I fucking love it. I think I might also love her, just a little. OK, a lot.

Seriously, how fantastic is she? So fantastic I’m going to have to start watching CBS News again. No wonder the good ’ol boys media club is up in arms about her. She is smarter than them. She is stronger than them. And she is a hell of a lot sexier than them.


Lezlie Mac said...

Sassy and witty.
A little sarcasm here and there.
A not-taking-your-bullshit-don't-mess-with-me attitude.
That's the kind of woman we need to see more.
Everywhere. All the time.

I must admit I had never heard of her before (for no CBS in France reasons), but we really need more gutsy brilliant feminists like her. And not only in journalism, but in all lines of work.

Thanks for the enlightenment Ms. Snarker.

TheWeyrd1 said...

That subtle misogyny that keeps gutsy intelligent women from positions of power is why we're stuck in stupid wars...and why we're having to choose between two men AGAIN for president. I've seen Lara Logan several times on the CBS news (which I watch for a GIRL anchor Katie). I unconsciously noticed that she's attractive, but honestly (with all the protective gear she wears) I am more focused on what she's saying (and maybe that voice)...

nycrouge said...

More posts like these, Ms. Snarker. Well done.

Anonymous said...



I agree with nycrouge -- you nail the smart stuff, Ms. Snarker (not that I don't enjoy Tank Top Tuesday and your weekend crushes . . .).

Sarah in Chicago said...

I'd heard about Lara Logan before, and ADORED her piece on the Daily Show, particularly because she had the gonads to call out the US press' coverage of the Iraq War for the fellating of Bush it was.

And yes, almost immediately the right-wing political blogs set about attacking and discrediting her, seemingly for the temerity of being a beautiful woman that had the audacity not to be interested in them. If they couldn't have her, they'd destroy her and make sure no one could have her!

And, of course, slowly that treatment made its way into the mainstream media. And yes, this has everything to do with the fact that a beautiful woman is a HUGE threat to the patriarchal establishment when she is accomplished, intelligent, very competent and assertive. And, not to mention, doesn't apologise and pretend that she's supposed to be ashamed of having a strong, independent and enjoyable sex-life.

A man simply would not be treated like this.

I honestly wish we had more women (heck, more PEOPLE) like Ms. Logan, maybe then we wouldn't be in the mess we are.

Excellent piece Ms. Snarker.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

I'm a huge Lara Logan fan. It took me awhile to discover her, but when I did...let's just say I watched every report available on the internets.
The WaPo piece sounds like sour grapes to me, especially since Logan actually has integrity, a rare commodity in the US media circus of appeasement to the Bushies.
Oh, and one last thought: Wanna know why women have always been tougher than men? Because we have to walk through the fires they set.

Pyewacket said...

I have been watching the CBS news for awhile now and have been impressed with Lara Logan's reports from the Middle East. Even before Katie Couric took over the anchor spot I was watching Bob Schieffer rely on Lara for her expertise. I did notice how good-looking she is but quickly forgot about that aspect of her once I heard what she had to say. And that was that. I had no more interest in her private life then I did about Walter Cronkite's.

There was a time that I truly admired the news media. I thought working for a newspaper or a tv news station and getting to the truth and exposing evil-doers was among the most noble professions. I had given a lot of serious thought to becoming a journalist.

But this year, the US news media should hang their heads in shame. I know Hillary is not perfect by a long shot and yet the way she was treated by the media was horrific. They undermined her campaign at every turn.

And now this. Turning on their own but not really, because she is a woman afterall. A woman who has got it all as far as her profession is concerned and even has been putting her life on the line since this stupid war began. So she is not perfect...she has a bit of a messy private life. I bet there are a hella lot of male reporters in the war zone who have even more of a mess to deal with. But that is okay, they are men. She is being portrayed like she is one step away from showing up on the red carpet with Paris Hilton and not wearing any panties.

This seriously bites.

Screw them. If Lara Logan is fired by CBS because of this, they will hear from me! I have already written to them a few times to let them know that I am watching Katie anchor their news and I am sticking with them as long as they stick with her. And while Hillary might have lost the Democratic nomination, she is still my senator!

Sydneyb said...

I love Lara Logan (been following her work for a while now) and i'm so glad that you wrote this post. Too many people don't really know what's going on overseas and its really just shameful.

I also have a huge crush on Lara because she's so intelligent, so strong, and so unwilling to take bullshit. It doesn't hurt that she's super hot either. Have you seen her CNN interview? Here is a link:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the enlightenment!!! More post like these please!--now i will have to start watching CBS news that's the kind of woman we need to see more.

I have to admit I had never heard of her before, but we really need more smart gutsy brilliant

Amanda said...

Oh my god....


Anonymous said...

Awesome! After seeing her on the Daily Show, I was actually going to give you a heads up about her - I just knew she was a lady you would appreciate! I'm so impressed with her!

She seems like such a throwback to the intrepid international reporters of old, where guts and brains and substance won over glitz and spin and bucks.

Yes, the treatment of her is appalling. Have the media really mistaken her for Paris freakin' Hilton? Is that the only thing they know to do with a pretty blonde woman? God, if dodging bullets and bombs can't spare you this treatment, what the frik will?!

Anonymous said...

Sadly I only recently discovered Lara Logan when she appeared on the Daily Show but by the end of that interview I was completely blown away. She spoke in a quiet voice but it was so intense and unwavering that I was in awe.

Simple amazing.

Dutchcloggie said...

Erhm, let me put on my Flame-proof pants and point out that you too seem to be lusting over this woman, in a non-professional way, so to speak. Not to say that she is not fab (as a UK resident, I have never seen her work) and your piece certainly hits the spot in telling off the stupid press who do not look further hat a pair of boobs and blond hair.
Just think it is interesting that some of your readers will now check out this woman's work mainly because they have seen her picture on your site, which in a sense is exactly the thing you so despise.

Anonymous said...

Like Dutchcloggie, I will don my flame (and flamer) proof pants and note that in my opinion, it is not misogynistic to say that Ms. Logan has exhibited poor judgment in her personal life. Misogynistic to apply a different standard to her because she's a woman? Yes, but that doesn't alter the fact that she's engaged in behavior that reinforces certain stereotypes about single women being "on the make" with any man in the vicinity, regardless of their marital status.


Anonymous said...

I was bowled over by her when I saw her on the Daily Show and there is no doubt in my mind that her smarts and the fact that she had the courage to call our tv news networks to task for their utter deficiency in reporting real news makes me think this is a total hit job on her. Not only is she smart, she's beautiful and it goes without saying that she is a woman and that scares the shit out of those in charge because she doesn't know her place which to men is on her knees - figuratively speaking that is. And this woman will bend to no one. Therefore the privileged press and news organizations are sending her a clear message, "Don't fuck with us, bitch, or we'll destroy you." And they will.

Dutchcloggie said...

I agree with the last Anonymous comment (I do wish people would put their name on posts)

I am a journalist myself and Ms. Logan has shown very poor judgement twice. That is not to say she is not entitled to a private life and the heart is not guided by work ethic etc but sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. I would not date a co-worker or a fellow player on my rugby team either as it always creates trouble in one way or another. Add to that the fact that they were both married (yes, separated, I know) and you know that it will lead to trouble at some point, either personally or professionally.

She should have known that it would damage her reputation as a journalist. So although her treatment is appealing and misogynistic, she should have behaved in a more professional way.

tigtog said...

I am a journalist myself and Ms. Logan has shown very poor judgement twice.

The only way I can read this is that you are referring to her having two documented relationships as a maritally-separated person who is not yet divorced as "poor judgement". This strikes me as an utterly bizarre judgement - should she be expected to be celibate just because some paperwork hasn't been filed on a relationship that is acknowledged to be over? Why?

Jackie said...

Lara Logan is amazing. She just acquired a new fan from the pool of future journalists.

Dutchcloggie said...

My comment on poor judgment merely relates to having a relationship whilst on a job, especially when with another journalist. That's all. Marital status has nothing to do with it. I understand when things are difficult, like in a war zone, there is a greater need for personal relationships. I just think that on a professional level, she could have maybe made a different choice with her relationships. (i.e. not get in to them, even though her heart told her otherwise).

Once again, that does not mean she deserves the treatment she gets in the media.