“I don't want this to define me,” CBS News correspondent Lara Logan told the New York Times on Thursday, previewing a solemn Sunday-night interview on “60 Minutes” in which she meticulously recounted her own February 11 gang rape in Egypt.
A couple hours later, reporting with her usual air of aggressive fascination on the hottest American news item of the year — Osama bin Laden's murder, and the terrorist backlash that could follow — we could hardly recall Logan's moment of vulnerability.
The live bin Laden coverage was a true moment of victory:
Almost more touching than the brave rape anecdote itself, Logan's first lap after climbing back on the horse was radiating with strength. She has openly admitted weakness, a no-no in the breakneck journalistic field, and her job/reputation as a witness to some of the toughest international struggles hasn't been compromised in the slightest. (Though she was safe in the newsroom this time, CBS is obviously keeping her around.)
To the contrary, Logan radiates even more strength than before — any potential pity lost to the topic at hand.
“A number of top U.S. officials, both in the CIA and on the military side, who have been involved in the hunt for bin Laden, have told me tonight they never believed that he was in a remote area,” says Logan with a hint of a smile. “They are not surprised to find that Osama bin Laden was sheltering in a compound with 24-hour power and all the amenities of life that we're used to — not eating nuts and berries in some cave.”
She was her usual controversial, un-politically correct self, at once fiercely patriotic and deeply understanding of her material. The death of bin Laden is just the story to throw her back into action.
A CBS anchor in New York asks: “Lara, for the better part of 10 years, we've been talking about the war on terror, or this fight against terror. With this death, is this mission accomplished?”
“No — not even close to mission accomplished,” she responds from Washington, D.C. “The simplest way to put it is that you can't win this fight without killing Osama bin Laden. To say that it's not important is just not true. But on the other hand, killing Osama bin Laden doesn't mean that you won. It doesn't mean that it's over.”
Logan adds that bin Laden's spiritual teachings through al Qaeda have infiltrated themselves into “every corner of the globe,” and that “if anyone's death would be avenged, it would be his” — “and [his followers are] patient.”
If that's not moving on, we don't know what is.
In response, Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery, whose excellent online mag reflected long-form on “What Journalism Might Learn From the Lara Logan Story” in February, last night Tweeted:
From here on out, Logan's rape in Egypt will only be another point of interest on her fiery personal-to-public timeline. And yet, at the same, her coming-out will be immortalized in the history of journalism as the moment the “code of silence” among women journalists who face additional dangers on the job was breached forever.
We look forward to hearing from her again soon, and often.