CBS's Lara Logan: I'd Kill Myself If I Had to Watch American News
Chief foreign correspondent for CBS News Lara Logan appeared on Tuesday's "Daily Show With Jon Stewart" to declare that she doesn't watch American news (that would presumably include her own network). She also decried, "If I were to watch the news that you're hearing in the United States, I'd just blow my brains out. 'Cause it would drive me nuts." (How does CBS feel about this?)
What became apparent in the segment was the journalist's distaste for both American journalism, which she is a part of, and her belief that Americans don't really care about Iraq. In addition to answering "no" when asked if she watches the news, host Jon Stewart proceeded to question her about Iraqi violence not getting enough media coverage. The Comedy Central anchor queried, "Have we lost our humanity with this entire situation?" "Yeah, we have," Logan agreed.
Logan, who in late 2007, complained to "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno that "we're doing extremely badly" in Iraq, also used her appearance on the program to bash First Lady Laura Bush. After dismissing "armchair academics" who don't really know what the situation is like in Afghanistan or Iraq, she scolded, "See Laura Bush saying this is my third time in Afghanistan. She doesn't mention that she was only there for a few seconds..." When Stewart wondered if such individuals might not really be looking for the truth of the situation, Logan playfully shrugged her shoulders.
The reporter, who has made several trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, repeatedly implied that very few have the understanding she has about the Middle East. After agreeing with Stewart's assessment that Americans have lost their humanity over the situation in Iraq, Logan made this statement about reporting bad news:
LARA LOGAN: You know, 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 I 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? 'Cause I know what that looks like. And I feel responsible for the fact that no one else does.
Logan made almost this exact point previously. The MRC's Brent Baker, in a October 16, 2007 NewsBusters post, noted that on "The Tonight Show" she also decried hidden images of U.S. casualties. He quoted her, in remarkably similar language:
LOGAN: We're doing extremely badly, from my point of view. I was asked if I felt any guilt for the fact that the world has an impression of the war in Iraq as being very bad and going very wrong? And I said I really don't because I can't imagine the last time anyone saw a dead American soldier. We've hidden that from view.
On June 17, the reporter generously quoted a ranting Afghanistan terrorist in a report of the "CBS Evening News."
Finally, for a serious reporter, Logan managed to drop two profanities into the five minute segment, including telling Stewart she introduces herself to soldiers this way: "They've been told not to swear about you (sic) and you say, 'Yo, what's up [profanity bleeped]?' and then it's all done."
A transcript of her June 17 appearance on the "The Daily Show," which aired at 11:19pm, follows:
JON STEWART: Welcome back. My guest tonight, she is the chief foreign correspondent for CBS News. Please welcome to the program Lara Logan. Ma'am. ( cheers and applause ) How are you? Come and join me. Please have a seat. You remind me of a young Ted Koppel.
LARA LOGAN: Dan Rather used to say that about me.
STEWART: Stop it. What's happening? How are you? Nice to see you. You just got back from?
STEWART: Iraq. What did you get me? Did you bring me anything back? A small token?
LOGAN: I did. A few components of suicide bombs, you know, a couple useful things.
STEWART: What don't we know? Do we know anything about what's going on over there? Are the reports of what's really going on over there getting out? You've been there since this thing started. What are we missing? We know nothing?
LOGAN: No. No. I don't know we really do have, you know, very much of an idea. We have all these armchair academics who go over for one visit. See Laura Bush saying this is my third time in Afghanistan. She doesn't mention that she was only there for a few seconds, you know, listening to-
STEWART: Are you suggesting that a few seconds in Afghanistan is not enough to really get the flavor of a country torn by war?
LOGAN: It depends what you're looking for.
STEWART: You think they might not be-- they might not be looking for the right things? [Logan shrugs her shoulders.] How hard is it-- I know you're over there filing these amazing stories. Are you-- Do you have to fight for air time? Do you say I've got the scoop on the Afghan war lords that have turned against the United States and they're helping the Taliban and they're like, geez, I'd love to help you but Britney is back in rehab.
LOGAN: Or Paris Hilton is getting arrested, yeah.
STEWART: What? Breaking news. But how hard is it to get those stories on?
LOGAN: It depends. It goes in cycles. You know, this is an election year so politics, politics, politics all the time. And people are-- You hear that people are tired of hearing about the war so you have to fight against that. But generally what I say is I'm holding the armor piercing RPG. It's aimed at the bureau chief and if you don't put my story on the air, I'm going to pull the trigger. That's worked.
STEWART: So, I guess if you're giving advice to a young journalism student, you might say threats of violence to the editors.
LOGAN: And the jihadi manuals on suicide bombers. It's all on the internet.
STEWART: That's the way to read through it. What do you feel like-- Do you watch the news that we're watching in the United States?
STEWART: Do you see what we're hearing about the war? Do you--
STEWART: So we might actually know everything?
LOGAN: If I were to watch the news that you're hearing in the United States, I'd just blow my brains out. 'Cause it would drive me nuts.
STEWART: I am glad to see you overcome your shyness, because-- Where do you think-- If you were to say, if you had your druthers, would we be focused right now just in terms of just reporting, because I know this isn't about policy, Afghanistan or Iraq? Where do you think the big story is?
LOGAN: I don't think we should have to choose between which war is, you know-- So, we have more soldiers on the ground in Iraq than we do in Afghanistan, therefore we pay more attention. I think we should-- I mean, it's very hard because you hear all the time people are tired of seeing the same thing over and over. I did a piece with Navy Seals once. It took me six months of begging, screaming, breaking down walls, crawling on my knees to get that embed. And when I came back with that story I was told these guys, you know, one guy in uniform looks like any other guy in a uniform. And I'm on high value target raids taking down some of the most wanted Taliban fighters and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. And I'm told, well, you know, one Arabic name-- unless it's Osama bin Laden, who cares about, you know, Mullah bin Shag (sic)- whatever.
STEWART: Who's-- I mean these are the people that are in charge of what goes on on the programs.
LOGAN: Well, although, you know, for example, Jeff Fager at "60 Minutes" always says to me Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, Afghanistan, Afghanistan we don't see enough of it. I want people to know more. I want people to see more. I mean, it's-
STEWART: There are people pushing to try and get it through.
LOGAN: Yes. There are lots of people pushing it.
STEWART: What about the danger for you? I mean, you're, you're clearly a big intimidating force. When you go out there, I mean, have you been hurt? Have you been-- how do you protect yourself?
LOGAN: You know, often I work until 8:00 in the morning. I woke up the one morning and I looked at the clock and it was 11:00 and I thought [profanity bleeped] I've got to get up and then I thought--
STEWART: By the way, I don't allow that type of language on this program. I don't care that you spend the last five years in a war zone. We have standards here.
LOGAN: Usually that's a good way to break the ice. You get in a humvee with soldiers and they're all on their best behavior. They've been told not to swear about you (sic) and you say, Yo, what's up [profanity bleeped]?" and then it's all done.
STEWART: Really? Wow. You know where that doesn't work? Florida retirement villages. What about you though, safety-wise? Are you there with security details? Are you there with armed--
LOGAN: We have security details. We have Iraqi security guards.
STEWART: Have you been exposed to gunfire and explosions and that type of thing?
LOGAN: Sure. Well, That morning in Baghdad I sort of looked at the clock and I said, okay, I can have half hour more because I only had three hours. Went back to sleep. Woke up and sat on this side of the bed thinking I've got to get up. And then it was like boom and the hotel blew up underneath me. So, they blew up the building. I think they were trying to kill some sheiks. They got a few people-- few other people, including a five-year-old Iraqi girl.
STEWART: See, even that, the idea of that to me, that would be-- If that happened in this country it would be the biggest story for the next two years. It's as though we've become numb. I mean, there were 51 people killed today in a Shiite neighborhood in Iraq. Are we just numb? Are we-- Have we lost our humanity with this entire situation?
LOGAN: Yeah, we have. You know, 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 I 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? 'Cause I know what that looks like. And I feel responsible for the fact that no one else does. You know, that's what I feel responsible for. That nobody really understands. And the soldiers do feel forgotten. They do. No doubt. From Afghanistan to Iraq, they absolutely feel-- you know, it hasn't-- we may be tired about hearing about this five years later, they still have to go out and do the same job. I was in Sadr City when it was just going absolutely hell for, you know, Sadr City was like armageddon. And there were soldiers who had been in the country nine months had never seen combat like that. Just thrown into it. You're talking about convoys ambushed with five, six armor piercing bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, everything. Nine-, ten, 15-hour battles.
STEWART: And it's something we might get just a brief glimpse of on the news or a mention of that kind of thing.
LOGAN: And more soldiers died in Afghanistan last month than Iraq. Who's paying attention to that? 33,000. highest troop level since the war began. Seven years after we defeated the Taliban.
STEWART: Well, it's certainly-- It's funny. We criticize the government an awful lot. But I guess we have a responsibility that we haven't lived up to as people either to keep ourselves up on it. So, we appreciate everything you're doing and thanks for coming on and seeing us.