Was CBS Correspondent Lara Logan “Thrown to the Wolves” While on Assignment in Egypt?

by Nindo Mom on February 15, 2011

It was Friday, February 11, and Lara Logan was in Egypt with a CBS film crew covering the resignation of Egypt President Mubarak. Logan and the crew were filming for the popular TV special 60 Minutes when she was attacked, brutally sexually assaulted, and beaten by a group of Egyptian men.

According to CBS:

“. . . Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a 60 MINUTES story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.

In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently in the hospital recovering.”

The Warning Signs

Thursday, February 10, Time reported that Lara and her crew were detained by Egyptian police while filming “beauty shots” for the 60 Minutes Special. Lara herself said that she and her crew had been confronted numerous times throughout the day on Thursday with insinuations and accusations that they were more than merely reporters–and that they were there for more nefarious reasons. Lara said that the experience was increasingly frightening for her and the crew.

Egypt was on the cusp of a tremendous change — the stepping down of President Mubarak, who had reined over Egypt for 30 years. This meant  an almost certain drastic change in Egyptians’ lives. The Egypt people had been protesting in mass in the streets to bring about this day — but the question still remained what group would ultimately end up seizing power.

Recent History of Censorship and Civil Rights Infractions in Egypt

Less than a week before the attack on Lara Logan in an interview with CNN, Egypt Finance Minister Samir Radwan apologized for any “harsh treatment” journalists and Egyptian protesters had suffered at the hands of government forces.

And about a week before that, at the end of January 2011, the Egyptian government had blocked complete Internet access block across the whole of the country. The government also blocked Blackberry service and SMS. Clearly, trouble was brewing–and clearly, the Egyptian government was doing all that was in their power to keep the news from spreading.

The Situation Could Have – SHOULD HAVE – Been Avoided.

In the United States, we value the free press. It’s not like this in other countries–a fact that most of us are very well aware. So why do we throw our news reporters out there–throwing them to the wolves, so to speak–when we know the dangers they will face?

War reporting is obviously one of the most dangerous assignments a news correspondent can have. Political upheaval such as the recent resignation of President Mubarak is right up there with it.

Yes, we want to know what’s going on. Yes, we love to see our reporters on television on location from where it’s all going down. But I wonder what efforts are made, if any, by the news establishments to keep their correspondents as safe as possible. Perhaps steps are taken–but if they are, they’re not well publicized. And if precautions had been taken, I would have expected that they would have been mentioned, at least in passing, in CBS’s statement about the recent attack on Lara Logan.

Lara’s situation may have been far more dangerous, in certain respects, than the average wartime assignment because she and the CBS crew were filming a longer format program–which means they had to spend more time on location.

CBS needs to take more precautions when sending reporters on dangerous assignments like the one that almost killed Lara Logan. And they need to be held accountable if they are not providing as safe a work environment as possible (considering the circumstances) for their employees. It’s what we expect of employers here in the U.S.–should we expect any less from CBS and the other media?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: