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CBS News says foreign correspondent Lara Logan was beaten and sexually assaulted during Egypt coverage



lara_logan_244x183.jpgBad as we knew the assaults against journalists got during Egypt's ouster of Hosni Mubarak, it seems the reality was worse than was generally known.

CBS News has just issued a statement saying the network's chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted on Friday, while covering Mubarak's departure, when a crowd of 200 people separated the star reporter from her camera crew and security team (at right, Logan is shown moments before the attack).

A week earlier, TIME magazine reported Logan and her team had been detained by Egyptian police outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo, with possible plans to expel them.

It is a sad and remarkably direct statement, which all of us in the TV criticism game assume must have been released with Logan's knowledge and consent. A friend brought up a question I hadn't considered, asking why CBS was so specific about what happened. I hope it wasn't because someone else was about to break the story. 

Having interviewed Logan once and seen how tough and direct she could be, it certainly lives up to her reputation for fearless honesty.

Along with the guilt and shame many victims of sexual assault feel regardless of their backgrounds, a 2007 piece in Columbia Journalism Review talked about an additional concern for female war correspondents: fear of losing assignments or being seen as weaker than their male counterparts. (H/T to Bloomberg reporter Lizzie O'Leary for the link). So perhaps Logan's honesty will help other female journalists speak up or take care.

If you want to see how stupid some commentators can be, then click here to read Salon's story on some of the more awful media reactions to Logan's attack. Amazing to think that some people working for major news organizations still don't understand that jokes about sexual assault have never and will never be anything but awful.

Here's the full statement from the network:

CBS News Statement

On Friday February 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS Correspondent 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 a 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.

There will be no further comment from CBS News and Correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 11:24pm]


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