Lara Logan Has it All Over Dan Rather

NEW SLAUGHTERIf there was ever an example of the quantitative difference between the rage-stoking machinery of the right and the left its in the reaction to Lara Logan’s big Benghazi blockbuster on “60 Minutes”.

Where literally within minutes of its airing nine years ago, “60 Minutes II’s” story about George W. Bush’s essentially non-existent National Guard “service” was under fire from right-wing bloggers pointing to a specific fake document, Logan’s far more amateurish blunder, in using an oddball mercenary’s story as the sole source of a startling new perspective on the Benghazi incident, is fast receding from public attention. Internally, CBS, which can not be pleased with the transparent inadequacy of  Logan’s reporting, may eventually take further action. But lacking a sustained furor, it has the luxury of doing so quietly and in a way it can manage, and … without explaining how it happened.

Lacking any serious of level of heat from outraged liberals — beyond David Brock and Eric Boehlert at Media Matters — this botch, which smells at least as politically inspired as “60 Minutes II” producer Mary Mapes’ shot at Bush — is going nowhere.

People like Kevin Drum at “Mother Jones” and Jay Rosen have already laid out the fundamental complaints with Logan’s story, and CBS has endured the inevitable round of ridicule from comics. For me though the most egregious error — the brightest flare in the sky — was Logan basing her story on a guy who was about to publish a book through CBS’s sister company, Threshold Editions, which exists solely as a distributor of (often) paranoid, fact-deprived righter-than right-wing screeds. How was that allowed to happen?

Worse, Logan didn’t disclose that illuminating little detail either in her original story or in her explanation-free apology last Sunday night. As a consequence we have an episode that walks and quacks very much like something cooked and contrived by the producer/reporter.

And that is different — and worse — than what Mapes and Dan Rather got into in 2004. The tragic irony with CBS’s Bush Air National Guard story is that the central assertion — that Bush was all but officially AWOL from a cushy stateside service slot and far from combat during Vietnam — was all but “smoking gun” provable without the tarted-up memo that persons still unknown used to intentionally deceive CBS, Rather and Mapes. (I believe Doonesbury-creator Garry Trudeau still has the $10,000 he offered to anyone who could prove they saw Bush with his National Guard unit at any time he says he was there.)

With Logan, the rapidly-evolving view is that she was the driving force of the bogus Benghazi story, and that to make her story she consciously violated a basic tenet of Journalism 101. Namely, she allowed a single source, one with obvious personal motivations, to push a startling counter narrative with rabid appeal for a specific fringe audience. A stringer for Eagan Patch couldn’t get away with that.

While the controversy will soon evaporate among the general public, media-watchers who suspect Logan pushed the story far beyond what the facts could support will continue to believe she did it to curry favor (for herself?) with a conservative audience that normally sees “60 Minutes” as a threat to their intensely partisan world view. Her now famous, gung-ho, “let’s go get the bastards speech” isn’t doing anything to refute that suspicion.

We are living in a moment where celebrity reporters are routinely carving out brands (and fatter paychecks) for themselves beyond the walls of their day jobs. And Logan, who looks much better in a low-cut dress than Morley Safer, (and did you notice how much more demure her attire was for the “apology”), has all the ingredients for full-tilt, anchor-level stardom.

But since there is a vast difference in the rage machinery of the right and left, I doubt many will notice when Ms. Logan announces a year from now that she has decided to leave CBS and pursue “new opportunities”.

Finally, you can only laugh that FoxNews, which rarely if ever has something good to say about a story produced by actual professional journalists — and rushed to hype the “60 Minutes” piece —  is pretty much alone now in “standing by” the “facts” of Logan’s botched tale.

 

 

31 thoughts on “Lara Logan Has it All Over Dan Rather

  1. Brian, At a journalism conference I attended in Massachusetts after the Rather-Mapes brouhaha re George W.’s military service record,
    I asked the editor of The Boston Globe why the rest of the news media stood silent as CBS News was attacked by the right. Of course the use of a false document was inexcusable, but the facts about his nonexistent service were accurate. The Globe editor said, ‘Hey, the Globe reported all the same facts several years ago.”

    Unchallenged, I would observe.

    Gary Gilson

    1. And yet to characterize the consensus of the media reporting on the “60 Minutes II” story you’d swear the entire thing, top to bottom was a fraud. Moreover, the lack of curiosity as to who concocted the fake letter was pretty limited.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        As I recall, the lady who would’ve been the secretary who typed ’em said at the time that, if they’re not the genuine article, they nonetheless say what she typed.

        But with the benefit of hindsight, pretty small beer in the greater context of the phony, botched and still bleeding neocon invasion of Iraq.

  2. Jockomo Feenanay says:

    This isn’t Lara Logan’s first time being accused of inadequate reporting. If memory serves, her very first report on the show had suspect information in it.

    Logan, who delivered that first report dressed in a skimpy school girl outfit, has been billed as a quality journalist from across the pond. (Because a British accent is assumed to equal quality in the minds of viewers) I don’t think she’s lived up to that, instead falling more into the “in the game for fame” class of reporters.

    1. bertram jr. says:

      Hey, she’s a fine alternative to looking at Morley Safer’s mug….but agreed on the PBS-like infatuation with the accent….

    2. She’s done some serious reporting fro war zones for which I give her great credit. (Her romances in those places are the stuff of glossy Hollywood movies.) But she has very definitely stepped in it here. My suspicion is that Jeff Fager, the “60 Minutes” boss AND the head of CBS News (after coming over from Fox) liked the idea of a big story with appeal to conservative audiences. Still — how do you not offer the disclaimer that your key source is pushing a book, that’s being published by your right-wing press arm? Fager is in trouble, too.

  3. Jeremy Powers says:

    I can understand lay people being excited about news with a British accent, because it makes just abut as much sense as NASCAR, Duck Dynasty, Hollywood red carpet stories, and what hat Kate Middleton is wearing. And whereas I think the English pub is among the greatest contributions to modern society from any country, who in the hell thinks the Brits know how to do news? Their tabloids are awful, with half-naked page 3 girls, crappy reporting, useless commentaries and antagonistic sports reporting designed to start a soccer hoodlum melee.

    Since MPR changed to the BBC’s News Hour I am reminded what rank sensationalists they are. Maybe the American press is a little to staid, but their correspondents are throwing out opinions, one-sided sloppy, mike-in-the face journalism for no apparent reason.

    After dentistry, I would say journalism is Britain’s worst export.

  4. Dennis Lang says:

    Come on you guys, one innocent transgression and you’re all over the poor woman. You never horribly botched a story to the point of professional if not public disgrace? I suppose big-time broadcast journalism is a ruthless game and a few corners get cut from time to time. Besides, as you correctly point out the British accent, the subtle lighting, the camera always at the most flattering angle and distance, the nuanced seductive smile, eyes flashing in recognition as her probing questions are answered, and she is the archetype pro of the 21st century!

  5. PM says:

    One of the responses i saw to the comparison between the Logan and Rather issues was that the “left” didn’t have an “outrage machine” like the “right” has–that the reaction of the “right” was what caused the dismissal of Rather, and the lack of reaction/outrage on the “left” has meant minimal consequences for Logan.

    While that may be accurate, i really do not think that the lesson for the “left” is to create an “outrage machine” like that of the “right”, just as i do not think that it is a good idea to create a “left” version of Faux News or Rush Limbaugh.

    Let those on the “right” have their news cocoon, and their false, over the top outrage. A victim mentality (which is what the “right” suffers from) is not something to aspire towards.

    1. bertram jr. says:

      PM:

      Bertram would posit thusly: The right is rightfully outraged. It’s not a ‘machine”. It’s a specific, visceral reaction to what is “wrong”.

      The outrage is caused by the blatant lies, hypocrisy and failure to do what’s right (as in right vs. wrong / moral relativism) while the left serves up their feelings based, “emotions” based narrative on us. Not just a narrative, but a mission that is putting this country and it’s citizens at clear and present risk.

      As your goddess Hillary stated, in full moral relativist dudgeon about clear evidence that she and the boy king ignored a terrorist threat that resulted in the death of four brave Americans at AN AMERICAN EMBASSY- “what possible difference can it make”?

      Now THAT’s outrageous!

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        “It’s a specific, visceral reaction…” Your words describing the right’s outrage.

        But it’s the left that is “feelings based…emotional.”

        And this is the sort of self-contradiction that enables to carry on day to day?

    2. PM: I agree. But the reality is that the right’s outrage machine is very real and very large, and there is strong evidence (when you look at who CBS was considering putting on the panel to investigate Rather and Mapes) that appeasing the outrage machine was a primary criteria for CBS in ’04-’05.

  6. PM says:

    Lara Logan is so stunningly beautiful, feminine and angelic. Let’s cut her a break. My god, is there no place in your heart for an object of pure beauty?

        1. Dennis Lang says:

          Ah, the intrigue, the mystery. Now you guys are getting interesting again. As an IT illiterate and furthermore non-conversant in the lyrically beautiful teminology of cyberspace, I don’t have the slightest what a “false flag troll” is–but sounds deceitful. Speaking of “guys” has anyone noticed this blog seemingly fails to attract anyone suspiciously feminine? Why might that be? Oh well, I digress….

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