Lara Logan has surprisingly returned to her old job on the CBS flagship news show 60 Minutes.
When she was forced to take a leave of absence six months ago, the circumstances were such that many did not expect that she could possibly be reinstated. Readers may recall that in 2012 she reported on the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, her version of events was hotly disputed at the time, and was later the subject of a CBS Corporation investigation.
The problem was that her story depended on the testimony of a U.S. security contractor named Dylan Davies. He claimed to have been an eye-witness to the events, but his description of what allegedly occurred was found to be false, and there was no confirmation that he was actually there. Consequently, CBS issued a correction and subsequently stated that Logan and her team should have been more diligent in checking the facts before the show was aired.
The Associated Press reports that CBS management was also concerned that Lara Logan made a public speech demanding that the U.S. take action in response to the Benghazi attack. They said that reporters need to be more detached from stories they are involved with, and that her words represented a conflict of interest. Logan, 43, was ordered to take the leave of absence in late November 2013.
Given the political fallout which resulted from Logan’s story, including strong Republican party attacks on President Obama’s handling of the affair, her sudden reinstatement came as a surprise. The announcement of Logan’s return was made by CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair on Wednesday.
Media Matters for America, which sharply criticized the Benghazi report from the beginning, was unhappy that CBS News had brought Logan back. David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, said, “CBS indicated that they were serious about rebuilding its brand and taking accountability. Having Logan back on ’60 Minutes’ shows the exact opposite.”
For Lara Logan, the damage to her reputation is unfortunate, to say the least. Especially since she had previously been the subject of so much sympathy. When she was reporting from Tahir Square in Cairo, following the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, she was attacked by a mob. They stripped, beat, and sexually assaulted her; as she put it so graphically: “The men raped me with their hands.”
Working in the media is not usually that dangerous or extreme, but for Lara Logan maybe she now understands how easy it is to go from “hero to zero” in the highly competitive world of news reporting.