Reporter Lara Logan becomes the story, but it ain’t news

We want certain things from our newscasters. We want them to be honest, we want them to be fair, we want them to be intelligent, and we want them to be just attractive enough to spend an hour or so in our living rooms every evening. This poses a bit of a problem for CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan.

You see, while Lara is honest and fair and intelligent, she is also gorgeous. And, well, that’s where things get complicated. The 37-year-old South African native was recently named chief foreign affairs correspondent at CBS and has worked for CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes and The Early Show. She has reported on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Her work has earned her international acclaim as well as shiny hardware including Emmy, Overseas Press Club and Edward R. Murrow awards.

But if you read The Washington Post earlier this week, all you’d really know about Lara is that she is pregnant by a married man. Columnist Howard Kurtz wrote what amounts to a tawdry tabloid tell-all masquerading as serious journalism. We learn that she has been separated from her husband for a long time, then she had a relationship with a fellow journalist in Iraq and after that, started seeing her current partner, a federal contractor who is also separated from his wife. You can practically see Kurtz pinning the scarlet “A” on her chest.

Kurtz goes on to quote her current partner’s estranged wife, who calls Lara’s promotion “a slap in the face to everyone who believes in marriage.” He then reassures us that Lara and her partner “plan to get married eventually.” Whew, what a relief — I couldn’t possibly get my news from an unwed mother who was living in sin.

How, exactly, is all of this news? Um, if I’m not mistaken, America has two wars going on right now — two wars that Lara has been covering for the past seven years. Two wars where soldiers and civilians are being killed each day. Two wars where hundreds of millions dollars are being spent each day. Two wars with no foreseeable end in sight. But, hell yeah, let’s hear more about the hot reporter’s sex life. Now that’s what I call journalism.

The trouble for Lara really started last month with her appearance on The Daily Show. And, again, she did nothing more than have the audacity to be more honest, fair, intelligent and attractive than any other newscaster in the business. While she has been a vocal critic of the coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for years, she left no doubt to how she felt about the American press while chatting with Jon Stewart:

If I were to watch the news that you hear in the United States, I’d just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts.

Watch the whole interview and you see a smart, strong, tough, tenacious, passionate and pointed woman who represents everything you want in a good reporter. She’s also funny and cusses like a sailor. Scratch what I said before, she is the perfect reporter.

When Stewart asked her, “Have we lost our humanity with this entire situation?” her answer was unequivocal:

Yeah, we have. I was asked once, ‘Do you feel responsible for the American public having a bad view, a negative view, of the war in Iraq?’ And I looked at the reporter and said, ‘Tell me the last time you saw the body of a dead American soldier.’ What does that look like? Who in America knows what that looks like? Because I know what that looks like. And I feel responsible for the fact that no one else does.

OK, I take back all previous assessments — she is the best reporter in the world. Of course this kind of real straight-talk express didn’t sit well with the right-wing pundits. They started to go after Lara in droves after her Daily Show appearance. I guess when they couldn’t find any flaws in her actual reporting, they went straight for her private life. Ah, the old “Don’t listen to her, she’s a tramp” defense. That Madonna/whore complex just never goes out of style.

You know, it’s not like there aren’t countless male newscasters with complicated private lives. Bill O’Reilly (loofah, anyone?), Keith Olbermann (a 25-year age difference with his 24-year-old live-in girlfriend) and Anderson Copper (come Out, come Out wherever you are) spring immediately to mind. But do they get the Woodward and Bernstein treatment from The Washington Post about their bedroom behavior? Of course not. Men have clearly separated personal and professional lives. That is just understood.

The sad truth is that some men simply don’t know what to do with a beautiful woman who insists on having brains, so they either dismiss her as dumb or brand a hussy. Lara is neither. She’s just a damn good reporter.

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