Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Benghazi

Bad coverage is still a free self propaganda: And Lara Logan, Benghazi, the Bombshell …

Eleven years ago, the 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan was sitting in the Inter Continental hotel in Amman, Jordan, watching her career flash before her eyes.

Joe Hagan published this May 4, 2014

Benghazi and the Bombshell

Is Lara Logan too toxic to return to 60 Minutes

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She was 31 years old, a rookie at CBS News, assigned to cover the biggest story on earth: the invasion of Iraq.

But nothing was going as planned. With only days until the American invasion, Logan had been forced to leave Baghdad and was desperate to get back before the war began, but she and her crew, because of the dangers of the imminent “shock and awe” bombing campaign, were forbidden from going by the network.

That’s when she heard about a convoy of French reporters making the trek to Baghdad.

“She called me several times, begging to go with us,” recalls Laura Haim, a French TV journalist. But the French decided it was too dangerous having an American broadcaster onboard, even if she was South African. “I said, ‘No way.’ ”

Fluent in three foreign languages, Logan begged in French.

Logan had labored tirelessly for this chance, spending several months in Kabul during the invasion of Afghanistan and heedlessly throwing herself into danger for the camera to deliver raw reportage to the CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes II, the spinoff version of the Sunday program.

Her work had earned her notice at the highest levels of the network. CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, from his perch in Los Angeles, viewed her steely eyes, breathless delivery, and exotic accent as the raw material of a future star.

So Logan had strategized with her agent to make the biggest possible splash in Baghdad—a replay of Christiane Amanpour’s star turn at CNN during the first Gulf War.

Days later, as American bombs rained down on Iraq, the French reporter was startled to see Lara Logan standing in the lobby of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. “Look, I made it!” she declared.

Two Iraqi fixers had smuggled her across the border, making her the only major American network-TV staff broadcaster in the country when the war began.

“I was really impressed by her courage,” says Haim. “It was not bullshit. She really wanted to do things to make a name.”

Logan was launched. She became chief foreign correspondent in only 3 years and a top correspondent on 60 Minutes two years after that.

But last fall, after a deeply flawed 60 Minutes report on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, the trajectory of her career, along with that of CBS’s flagship news show, changed abruptly.

Logan and 60 Minutes had been searching for a new angle on the Benghazi story for the better part of a year, and finally one seemed to arrive.

The break in the story came from a hulking, goateed former military contractor who called himself “Morgan Jones.” J

ones, whose real name is Dylan Davies, told Logan an emotional tale of witnessing the attack firsthand—climbing an embassy wall in order to engage the combatants, then stepping into the breach as Washington dithered.

Relentlessly hyped in the days leading up to the broadcast, the story fit broadly into the narrative the right had been trying for months to build of a White House and State Department oblivious to the dangers of Al Qaeda, feckless in their treatment of their soldiers and diplomats, then covering up their incompetence.

It was soon revealed to be made up almost of whole cloth. Davies, who worked for a security firm called Blue Mountain, had invented the story to sell a book.

For 60 Minutes and Logan, it was a stunning error, of a sort that can quickly corrode the brand of a show like 60 Minutes. And the scandal was an oddly precise echo of “Rathergate,” when Dan Rather, at the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes in 2004, used memos of dubious provenance in a report on George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service.

In the aftermath of the Benghazi report, the problems with its sourcing were glaring, the kind that should have raised red flags. Logan’s interview subject happened to be selling a book on a politically conservative imprint owned by CBS News’s own parent company.

After defending the report for more than a week, Logan was forced to apologize and later take an indefinite leave of absence while CBS conducted an internal inquiry.

Logan’s colleagues, including veteran CBS correspondents Steve Kroft and Bob Simon, were apoplectic about the damage to 60 Minutes’ reputation.

Morley Safer, the only founding member of the cast left on the 45-year-old program, went into the office of CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager’s office last fall and demanded that he fire Logan.

But Fager (who declined to comment for this story) refused. Instead, he said that Logan will return sometime this year. His decision sent a ripple of discontent through CBS News, prompting questions about Fager’s judgment.

And as the months have rolled on, Logan’s return appears less and less certain.

Replies and Responses to TEDxBeirut “Limitation to inspiration” slogan

Three weeks ago, I sent a link to ten speakers at TEDxBeirut, asking for their feedback https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/mostly-a-hoax-from-limitation-to-inspiration-slogan-of-tedxbeirut/.  The first week I received a single reply.  Currently, I have got three more responses.

As promised, I’ll publish the reactions. If you read also the link in the note, you might realize that the late responses were mostly in reaction to the second reactive post “Culture of Contempt...” https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/culture-of-contempt-misplaced-comprehension-of-personal-failure/

(note: I slightly edited responses to fit my style in writing, words in parentheses are mine)

The first to respond promptly was speaker at TEDxBeirut, Ali Jaber. He replied by email: “I very much enjoyed your critical piece. Such critical thinking is required in our Arab World, so we can move ahead. Two thoughts I would like to share with you.

1.  The most oppressive of limitations for the Lebanese expatriates is to realize (achieve) what they aspire to (becoming) abroad, and not in their own country.

2.  Collaboration, listening and turning to others for support, — whether they know you or not — is very important in the creative and liberal process. Creating a collaborative environment around the activities that you endeavor in the land of big egos, increased individualism and egotistical attitudes, is the road less traveled.”

I replied that mankind intelligence evolved because they managed to comprehend the great advantages in trading goods, expertise, and culture…Most of ancient wars were fundamentally meant to “connect by force”, to break barriers: The looting part was merely a catalyst…

Hala Fadel responded with a message on Facebook: “Adonis, thank you for your email via facebook. My email address is halarfadel@gmail.com for future communication. And yes, I feel that I totally fit the slogan: If you listen to my talk, the main point of my story is that I realized we need the right environment to create entrepreneurs. So the limitation is that there was no such environment in the Arab region and that many institutions including the one I started, the MIT Arab Business plan competition, contributed to creating the right environment and now inspires thousands of Arabs to create companies in their region.

I think most of what you picked about me is from my bio, which on purpose does not deliver the message of the TED talk. I feel, from being in contact with many entrepreneurs in this region, every day we have helped them go beyond their limitations and go beyond their aspirations. One of them actually is an Egyptian handicapped person who started a call center in Egypt for handicapped people and for profit.

So yes, you can achieve success whatever challenge you face in life, provided that you are “put in the right environment and you get the viral energy“, which was the message of my talk. I am available to discuss this further if you want, but try to get positive energy from somewhere before, and if you don’t no problem, I have plenty of that and it is contagious! Hala”

My reply to Hala: “you irradiated positive energy: that is why we flock at TEDx events. Journalist Samir Attalah published an article in Al Nahar describing how a blind US citizen of Lebanese origin became a judge…thanks to the proper environment…Read again the article and you might discover that I was not stealing any of your energy…Good work Hala…”

Najat Rizk sent this message on Facebook: “Hi Adonis, please try sending it again: My inbox was full and was out of the country in Benghazi completely disconnected. My email is najat.r@firehorse.me. Thx. I just read your article. I would like to add one comment.  People in modern age are divided in two categories: digital native and digital immigrants. So between generation X and generation Y there’s a big difference.

In Lebanon, the emphasis on the difference between the two is huge. it’s not an excuse to lack of respect but just food for thoughts.”

My reply to Najat: “Thanks for the reply. My article is in my blog adonis49.wordpress.com.  Can you develop further on the two categories of digital people? It might be a good topic for an essay…send reply to adonisbouh@gmail.com”

I am under the impression that war zones attract Najat like magnets. Najat is set for dispaching a more developed answer, and I will glad to re-edit this post, or better, write a special post on this “digital categories”.

Ziad Abi Chaker responded by email: “Actually, your first article inspired a long article/response on my part..but it is still under works. I hope you are not in hurry, coz I like to take my time in such issues and “ferment” them in my mind before I engage in a discussion.  I loved the way you challenged me … but I have recently gotten romantically engaged with someone, so I beg for your understanding that she has priority … Cheers my man…”

I replied that I understand his priority: Pinpoint your strongest passions and go all the way.

I am under the impression that falling in love erase promises of lesser urgency, for long duration.

Note 1: I realized that I should check my messages on Facebook more frequently: My apology for late replies. This habit will change.

Note 2:  If you read this link, you might find out the reasons of the late feedback https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/culture-of-contempt-misplaced-comprehension-of-personal-failure/


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