Blog Archives

In the old days, like the 1990s, if you wanted to raise money for an individual you had to either go person-to-person, or get a sympathetic reporter to do a story on you. I was a real Ebenezer Scrooge about those stories in my reporter days. I mean, if some family’s home got burned out, I was all over it. But stuff like college tuition or kids wanting to play soccer in Israel? Forget it. Like, one time we got a call from a “family friend” wanting us to do a story so people would give money to this girl who got into Harvard, but couldn’t afford to go there. No way, I told the editor. You think I didn’t get into places I couldn’t afford to go? I had to LIVE AT HOME during college! F**k her!

And even if you did do a story, there was no guarantee anyone would shell out. It was unpredictable. My story about that poor burned-out family attracted zilch. But someone did a story about a kid who supposedly saved his little brother from choking on a French fry (all entirely according to the family, who called in requesting the story), and some local business paid for them all to go to Disneyland.

Now sob stories are everywhere on news sites and blogs with little or no investigation — but always with links to a funding site. You get some presentable, charming kid like Griffin Furlong, who has a pretty blond girlfriend and a GoFundMe titled “Homeless Valedictorian: College Fund” (he hasn’t actually been homeless since he was 8 or 9, and he actually lives with his aunt and uncle or maybe grandmother, the details differ among stories), who managed to attract interest from feel-good outlets such as HuffPo and People and Diply. So far, he’s collected nearly $110,000 with no strings attached. As a reward for saying he’s poor, he now gets to be rich.

I guess you can’t blame people for trying after seeing that. I’ve been on Facebook for six years, and until recently, I’d only been asked for money once: for funeral expenses. A former classmate died of cancer, leaving three young children. I kicked in, using a Paypal account another alumna set up. That was three years ago.

Within the past several weeks, the requests have multiplied. And they’re getting — in my opinion — progressively less worthy. They’re not made personally. They come from crowdfunding sites such as, one of the main offenders.

The ones I gave to: 1) 3-D printer for science class at my kid’s school. 2) Classmate’s son’s Eagle Scout project, something about school supplies for poor kids. See, these are the causes I think of as classic fundraiser material.

One I ignored: Former classmate’s kid wanted to go to Africa for the summer to help some wild animal foundation. That’s nice, but don’t we all? I guess the charity part comes in with the non-profit foundation, so really it’s like a modern version of missionary work, only without the restrictions on sex and drinking.

One I’m on the fence about: Friend of a friend wants help with legal fees for a family law case. It involved a relative getting temporary custody of a mom’s kid, then moving away and leaving no forwarding address despite the court order. It’s believable because I’ve seen it happen. It’s stretching my usual views of the purpose of fundraising, but I sympathize. Then again, I don’t know the people.

This one made me feel a little uneasy: Single mom seeking donations so that she can bring her father from Cuba to meet his grandson. I mean, I feel bad she never got to meet her dad in person. But passing the hat to acquaintances to fund a trip? I couldn’t do it.

And here’s the one that really got me: Wine bar operator raising funds to expand the restaurant in her wine bar. Her justification seems to be that her business will be good for the community, and she promises to help promote worthy local causes, so therefore her endeavor is worthy of charity. If you donate a certain amount, she’ll provide you with free life coaching geared toward building your dreams. Her coaching philosophy appears based upon The Law of Attraction, you know, where if you visualize money, the power of your thoughts attracts money to you. If that’s true, I don’t see why she’d need crowdfunding.

Category: Bank, Home, Newsroom

Update: Well, well. There’s now a donation site for the family with the goal of raising $20,000.

Here’s my pitch for a reality show:

A dad who’s a professional Elvis impersonator, and a mom with multiple sclerosis and a degree in “entertainment administration,” are raising two boys with autism, ages 16 and 13.

The high-functioning boy, Jackson, who looks a little like Justin Bieber and a little like Harry Styles, is an aspiring pop star who sometimes performs with his father, James. (Check out this “Agent Friendly Promo.”) Jackson’s stage name is “Jackson X” (see his website here).

The other boy, Max, 13, was the subject of an disgusting, outrageously cruel, anonymous hate letter to his grandmother that went viral after his mother posted it on her public Facebook page. After it was internationally publicized, their neighbors rallied around the family and condemned the anonymous evildoer.

The merits of the letter’s pro-autistic-boy-euthanization argument were the subject of contentious debate … nowhere. Shockingly, there was a unanimous thumbs-down from media reports and its many Facebook sharers. And strangers are offering the family gifts, as often happens after this type of story.

The letter has gone on to make international headlines and the family has received offers of help from across the country, including a charity in Montreal that contacted Millson to say they had received offers from people wanting to help the family pay their bills, buy gift certificates, or send them on an excursion.

“I suggested that Max would just love Canada’s Wonderland,” said Millson who hadn’t yet spoken to the family about the offer. “He’d go every day if you could take him.”

My experience with stories is this: If there’s no other side to a story, it’s probably not a real story. Anything that Perez Hilton and Glenn Beck agree about should be presumed brown and stinky until proven otherwise. And if the ultrasympathetic story comes from people who have been trying to promote themselves in other ways, watch out.

Sorry to say, but I’m getting a Balloon Boy feeling about the Begley family. Coincidentally, the Heene boys are trying to make it big with a band too.

Category: Newsroom

James DiMaggio is at large with an unrelated, kidnapped 16-year-old , after murdering her mother and (probably) her 8-year-old brother.  His ex-wife says he was obsessed with Everquest, and hung around the girl’s mother as a nonsexual friend:

DiMaggio’s former wife, who was married to him for only six months, said he didn’t show any violent tendencies during that period, but instead was a “nerdy” guy who showed a keen interest in video games, in particular, the game “Everquest.”

“I would complain about the virtual reality game he would play all night. It was ridiculous. It was consuming him. It was addictive,” the ex-wife, who wished to remain anonymous, told HLN’s Nancy Grace.

“He is not a materialistic person, and he’s very resourceful,” she said.

The suspect’s ex-wife added that she did not believe there was a romantic relationship between DiMaggio and the slain woman, describing their relationship as a “brother-sister type of deal.”

So here, we have a middle-aged man who is unsuccessful both romantically and financially. He was hanging around a family as a platonic “uncle,” where no man was present. He did them frequent favors, such as driving the attractive teenage daughter to her gymnastics practices. It should have been obvious he was after sex from someone there.

“He said he had a crush on her, but didn’t mean it in an intimate way,” 15-year-old Marissa Chavez toldThe San Diego Union-Tribune. “He said, ‘If I was your age, I’d date you.'”

The comment made the girls uneasy, Marissa added.

She said DiMaggio took Hannah to Hollywood for a week-long “Sweet 16” birthday celebration. The trip was cut short, however, because DiMaggio became upset about the amount of time Hannah spent on her cellphone.

“After that she never responded to his texts and e-mails,” Marissa told the San Diego newspaper.

It sounds as if the family made a couple of common mistakes. First, they were down on their luck financially. So, they were probably eager to accept help, and less likely to critique DiMaggio’s motives. When people are needy, predators sense it.

The second problem I call the “Beemus Illusion,” after my own former immature, older male friend who weaseled into young women’s lives by playing the nonsexual big brother role, then had tantrums and blowups when we didn’t want to have sex with him. In order to label a guy like DiMaggio appropriately, a woman has to make a socially disapproved assessment — even privately — of a friendly-acting male as a loser. Easy for me to do it from behind a keyboard. But when it mattered in my own life, I was reluctant. When I finally did, other people got mad at me. You can see the same illusion in effect with the kidnapped girl’s father — he talked about what a great guy DiMaggio was, how he “obviously just lost it.” No one wants to see the warning signs.

I like to think I wouldn’t fall for it now. When you’re a parent, you’re not supposed to take chances. In the Boy Scouts, the rule is never have fewer than two approved adults alone with a kid. That’s a common rule now for children’s activities. And normal adults don’t like to hang out alone with unrelated children. It sounds like torture to spend a week alone in Hollywood with some friend’s teenaged son or daughter.

My oldest son is old enough where I’m supposed to talk about “stranger danger” with him. This is what I’m telling him: Normal adults don’t talk to kids they don’t know unless it’s their job. And they don’t ask kids for help when they’re alone, they ask them to go get an adult. Normal adults also don’t tell kids their private business. I wish my parents had been clearer about this. For instance, when I told my normally strict dad that “My (male) English teacher is picking me up this weekend for an art show,” why where there no follow-up questions? And we thought it was so cool when he talked in class about his ex-girlfriends, even the one who committed suicide.

Category: Bedroom, Newsroom

In six months, dad, you’re probably going to lose your kids for good. I think you do suspect this, but won’t admit it to yourself. And you don’t want me to tell you why. They’ve been gone a year already, yet you don’t really want to know why.

I can tell this because you make it extremely unpleasant to interact with you. That is what scammers do. When you’re in a situation where you have some power, this may be very effective. It’s called bullying. People want to avoid the conflict, so maybe they get nervous and don’t scrutinize you appropriately, and your bad check or stolen credit card is accepted. Or maybe they give you the refund you want, even without the required receipt, so you’ll go away. But you are not in a one-on-one conflict. Your adversaries are not your equals, and they have very little duty toward you. You are fighting a court and a powerful government agency, backed closely by the police. Your arguments are worth nothing against that. And I’m your only friend in the fight. You shouldn’t want to make me avoid you.

Yet you make it miserable to talk with you, so I do the minimum. I’m just your lawyer; all I have to do is give you adequate legal advice and make sure you don’t get screwed legally. You decide what to do with that. Confronting you with stuff about yourself that you don’t want to hear, well, that goes beyond adequate. I didn’t have the energy or the time yesterday to deal with you arguing and yelling at me for an hour, which is the minimum it would have taken to have even a small chance of getting this through to you. So I’m in that gray area where I know I did my job, butI still feel bad because I know you’ll still fail. I don’t like my clients to lose, even when they’re assholes.

And that is the number one reason why the social worker will not recommend you getting your kids back and the court will follow that recommendation, regardless of what your lawyer argues at trial, regardless of what complaints about the system you have when you take the stand against your lawyer’s advice and ramble on over sustained objections. ( “Motion to strike after ‘Yes.'” “Sustained. SUSTAINED. That means the witness needs to STOP TALKING.” Bailiff approaches menacingly.)

There are a few reasons, and they build on each other to create something we call the totality of circumstances. In summary:

1) You’re a hothead.

2) You’re a hothead who smokes pot.

3) You’re a hothead who smokes pot and has a criminal background, and misses lots of drug tests and skips lots of scheduled visits with your kids because of things that are always someone else’s fault, and is 30 and has never held a job, and has absolutely no shame about telling a social worker that you need your children back so you can get the welfare turned back on. You make this demand to a social worker in your children’s mother’s publicly subsidized Section 8 apartment, where you shamelessly acknowledge that you live illegally because your criminal background precludes you from living there, but there’s no way anyone’s gonna come between you and her. NO WAY! GOT THAT? And during this conversation, your video game station is turned on. Yes, you have a video game system, a newish one, while you are moaning that you have to sell plasma to get by and have no time to do your weekly drug tests and visit your kids AND go to rehab classes three days a week.

If that’s too complicated, I’ll boil it down further: You are the kind of person that taxpaying citizens consider the scum of the earth. When you’re that kind of person, you don’t get to smoke marijuana and parent, even though the voters of California have (graciously! compassionately!) empowered a doctor to defy federal law and grant you a certificate that protects you from criminal conviction for possession (and he/she can do this for virtually any ailment you claim, even if it’s something ridiculous like having eating problems when you’re obviously obese).

And your children are under the control of a system that can, and does, kick parents like that out of their children’s lives permanently. Even when the kids love them and want to go home, like yours do. Under the law, you don’t have to beat your kids to lose them. You just have to be, well, crappy. Legally, it’s called “the nexus,” meaning a connection between substance use and risk of harm to the children. But what the nexus often means is, “you’re crappy, so you don’t get to.”

General crappiness, coupled with almost any illegal activity or use of a mind-altering substance, is enough. That’s the real trouble with medical marijuana. It’s not the bulletproof vest people think it is, not when you have kids. And that’s the problem with you, dad. You either can’t see, or refuse to see, that you’re one of those people whose ice is too thin to stomp around on. I wish I could figure out how to explain it so you’d understand. Lots of crappy people love their kids, and their kids love them back. But the law won’t protect both your family, and your way of life.

Category: Elsewhere

How much do we really want to hear about someone else getting sexually assaulted? Why do we want to hear it? Does it help us? Or has “coming forward” just become, in many cases, an automatic, lurid way to get attention while bumming a lot of other people out?

Back when I wrote for newspapers*, I was at the center of a newsroom fight about this topic. The alleged victim wasn’t famous like Lara Logan; she was a single young welfare mother. Here’s what happened: She came to a young female reporter (not me) offering to tell her story about being raped. She wanted her name used. Young female reporter jumped all over it.

Young female reporter was working the Saturday shift, when there was a skeleton crew of management and thus, less scrutiny over what went in the paper. In a day, she wrote a huge story containing every graphic detail that the alleged victim told her about how an older man had said he wanted to go into business with her; developed a relationship with her; eventually got her out into a car on a supposed business trip, took her out to the mountains and proceeded to bind her and rape her for a day. Oh, and he still owed her money he’d promised to pay her for “work.” The cops arranged for her to call him on a pretext of getting money he supposedly owed her, and got him to come to her house, where they were waiting to arrest him.

How do you feel so far reading this? Good? No? Lucky you, you only have to read a few sentences about it. The newspaper’s Sunday readers were treated to a huge front-page story, complete with a photo of the alleged victim looking sad, and a sidebar about the perils of acquaintance rape. Her allegations were described over 80 or 90 column inches, as compared to about 12 to 15 for a regular news story.

All the quotes and information came from the alleged victim, except for a brief quote from a police officer calling her “brave.” Oh, and the usual no-comment from the alleged perp and/or his attorney, if he had one by then, I can’t remember. Oh, and the police report. Because that’s all there was, was a police report and an arrest. No hearing, no trial, we were nowhere close to that yet. No physical evidence, no other witnesses. Just a woman claiming that her business partner raped her, then she went home, called the police, had him arrested, and had them write down her account. That’s it.

Was it enough to protect the paper from a lawsuit? Yes. Was that enough to merit an 80-inch front-page Sunday spread glorifying her as the poster girl for date rape? I didn’t think so. I voiced my objections strongly, which led to conflicts.

The staff was divided into three camps: 1) Those who thought the alleged victim was “brave for coming forward” (mostly women).

2) Those who thought we’d been sickeningly irresponsible to print a detailed account of some publicity-seeking, random woman’s allegations about some random man based on nothing more than a police report (mostly women).

3) People who just wanted to stay the hell out of it (mostly men).

It’s one thing to seek justice for a sexual assault. It’s another thing to seek publicity. At least that was the Camp 2 view. Camp 1 seemed to think that anyone who’s been raped is doing society a heroic deed by talking about it to as many people as possible, and everyone is obligated to listen and applaud. Also, Camp 1 thought, incorrectly, that there’s no way police would arrest a man based only on a woman’s allegation, with no physical evidence. (Whether the district attorney actually prosecutes the case may be a different matter, but we weren’t there yet.) I couldn’t tell how much the two beliefs were intertwined, because members of Camp 1 didn’t talk to Camp 2 for a few days, then we just kind of tried to avoid mentioning it again.

*Print reporters and TV reporters are natural enemies. That’s because most TV reporters are obnoxious self-promoting bimbos, like Lara Logan.

Category: Newsroom

It’s pretty cool that we’ve advanced to the point where a 40-year-old woman can still make it as a bimbo. It’s great that I’m able to have this argument without being accused of being an old hag picking on some 25-year-old. Lara Logan is 40!

Society, medical care, nutrition, and makeup sure have come a long way.

Category: Elsewhere

Please, commenters, criticism should be informed of the entire post and supporting links. I refuse to be exhausted by repetition. Comments that force me to repeat prior statements, or that are personally abusive, or that praise her without adding to the debate, will be deleted. Those are all typical tricks of the crazed (male) Logan fans who scan the Internet for criticism of her. I left the No. 2 comment up as a good example.

Finally got around to reading the transcript of Lara Logan’s CBS “60 Minutes” interview about her alleged, fishy “brutal and sustained sexual assault” in Tahrir Square. Sorry, I’ve got kids. They take up time. And I knew this would really piss me off. It’s even worse than I thought. Lara Logan is cold scheming evil, in a “To Die For”/”Wild Things” kind of way.

Before I get to the worst con she’s pulled, by the way, know who doesn’t have kids? Lara Logan. She has one child. [Edit: A kind commenter draws my attention to the fact that her Wikipedia bio is not up to date, and she apparently popped out two kids one year after the other. She must have an indulgent boss. The facts as to her adulterous, suspiciously well-timed “accidental” pregnancy, however, are correct.] So why did she keep going on how she kept thinking of her “children”during this unwitnessed (and counter-witnessed!), so-called brutal sexual attack? Well, you see, Logan has a stepdaughter. When Logan got pregnant with her one and only child, her current husband was married to another woman. That’s the woman whose husband she stole’s child, not Logan’s. That girl’s mother is still alive, you know, notwithstanding that when she got the news of Logan’s very convenient “accidental” pregnancy (yeah, sure, a childless late-30s professional having an affair with a married man gets “accidentally” pregnant with his baby she keeps) she reportedly went to the hospital with an overdose. I wonder how that poor woman feels watching this cheater claim her daughter on national TV. The underling reporter who did the interview surely knew Logan’s biographical details, so when he said “your daughter and your son,” that had to be at her instruction.

Such a well-timed interview, so well-calculated for one last big burst of public sympathy and publicity. Done just when Logan’s first fix of publicity had died down, and she’d almost been eclipsed by real, honest reporter/assault victims like Lynsey Addario. No Obama phone call for Addario, though. No poster-girl status. And … not a single person questioning or disputing Addario’s credible, unsensationalized account of her mistreatment at the hands of her Libyan captors. And conveniently done just as Logan, whose only real professional asset is her appearance, turns 40 — getting very close to the age of the superior but older female reporter who was fired for her several years ago. Suddenly, women feel we have to sympathize with Logan.

Frankly, it’s scary that CBS would let this go on. What happened to critical reporting? What happened to “If your mother says she loves, you, check it out?” It just doesn’t seem to matter that there were eyewitnesses who dispute Logan’s account — and, more importantly, three months later, still not a single witness who supports it other than Logan herself. Not one supporting witness to support her claim that there was a 20 to 30 minute attack where chunks of hair were ripped out of her scalp, she was raped with hands (as she put it), and stripped naked in public. The only witnesses to any harassment at all, ironically, were people who said it didn’t appear that much was going on, at worst she may have been groped over her clothes, and she was protected by a chain of male volunteers. There were no women around when she got to the soldiers. Even without the disputing witness acounts, Logan’s counter-story just sounds like so much melodramatic Hollywood hogwash:

Logan: And I almost fell into the lap of this woman on the ground who was head to toe in black, just her eyes, I remember just her eyes, I could see.

Pelley: Wearing a chador.

Logan: Yes. And she put her arms around me. And oh my God, I can’t tell you what that moment was like for me. I wasn’t safe yet, because the mob was still trying to get at me. But now it wasn’t just about me anymore. It was about their women and that was what saved me, I think. The women kind of closed ranks around me.

Where are these saintly female saviors? How come there weren’t any witnesses interviewed for this segment, except a brief bit from her producer, who doesn’t seem to provide any support for the story except that Logan seemed very upset, like a “rag doll”? Why don’t we get to hear from “Ray,” the former special forces security guy who should be able to support her account of being stripped naked? All we get is Logan’s interviewer commenting that “Ray” said her sleeve was torn from her coat (probably by Ray himself, because he was supposedly holding that sleeve in a death grip). And how is it no one claims to have seen those cell phone photos Logan claims people were taking? Where is anyone who witnessed or took part in this gory, protracted attack and dramatic rescue?

Why did Scott Pelley ask Logan absolutely nothing about the fact that eyewitness accounts seem to dispute her story? It would have been so easy, and it could have been done without being mean. “You’ve probably heard that there were others in the square who claim they saw you there, and that it didn’t seem to them you were being sexually attacked.” I mean, they don’t have to actually interview Mexican photojournalist Temoris Grecko (and here’s his response to her interview, as well as to her crazed fans who wanted his head on a platter for reporting what he and others saw), but at least ask Logan something that gives her a chance to respond to his account of the incident, and the accounts of other eyewitnesses he quoted. It’s irresponsible not to give someone a chance to respond to that. Unless you know they don’t have a decent response.

Logan isn’t brave. She was treated with kid gloves in this interview, just as she’s been treated with kid gloves across the media. There’s nothing brave about a press release, and there’s nothing brave about keeping quiet for three months while the people you conned wring their hands over you, then telling your story your way to someone who won’t question a damned thing. It’s the most cowardly way she could have handled it. It’s the way someone acts when they’re lying.

Yes, Logan conned me and is still conning a lot of other people, and I’m frothing mad about it. So let’s go to someone who can discuss this unemotionally: “DC Dave,” (I found him at Female Faust’s post on the subject. We women do get emotional about sexual assault.) here:

Filming and reporting had gone just fine for about an hour before the camera battery went down, we are told for the first time. This is a convenient way of dealing with my question in part 1 as to why we had not been shown any pictures of what happened subsequent to the one picture we have been shown over and over of Logan looking concerned in the crowd’s midst. [Sheila says: I disagree that she looked concerned in that photo, she had a small smile and just appeared to be looking at something.]

They may have addressed the one-photo criticism—however implausibly—but they provide no explanation for their four-day reporting delay. They also have no explanation for the last-minute redundant coverage of the Tahrir Square celebration by 60 Minutes in this era of financial hardship by the news networks. CBS already had its live coverage of the event. What was the 60 Minutes story to have been in the absence of the “sexual assault?”

They do have an explanation as to how the group of rescuing Egyptian women came upon the scene. The attacking melee was somehow “swept along” until it encountered this knot of local women in the crowd. Only then, we are told, did things begin to change for the better.

What really cries out for better explanation in this new version of events is how the six-man crew failed so utterly to protect Logan. Before, with the “got separated” story, one could imagine terrible things perhaps happening to Logan that the crew knew nothing about. The scene as now painted, though, has the menace arriving with their full knowledge, and Logan, the one person the crew was there to guard, was somehow culled out by the mob. Had I been interviewing McClellan I would not have wanted so much to hear about Logan’s wounds; I would have wanted to hear about his wounds.

It is perhaps significant that the producer of this latest 60 Minutes piece was none other than Robert Anderson. This is the same person who, in the Vince Foster case, put the following complete lie into the mouth of Mike Wallace: “The forensic evidence shows that the fatal bullet had been fired into Foster’s mouth from the gun found in Foster’s hand and that Foster’s thumb had pulled the trigger.” (See the appendix to Part 6 of “America’s Dreyfus Affair.”)

Notice the contrast in journalistic professionalism between this account and what we have been told by CBS and the Murdoch news organs. Grecko names his witnesses and tells you something about each, making it easier to check his story out. CBS didn’t even give us the name of the hospital in New York City where Logan was supposedly sent for several days. It certainly makes you wonder if there really was any such hospital to name.

If [Temoris] Grecko’s is the correct account, which to this observer has a much greater ring of truth, what CBS did with its four-day reporting delay was not to hatch a story out of whole cloth, but to figure out a way to put their propaganda spin on the story. The real story would have done nothing for the larger mission of the U.S. mainstream press, which these days no doubt includes addressing the growing Zionist propaganda crisis …

My favorite line is the last:

A human chain of young men protecting the mildly harassed accused Israeli agent, Lara Logan, just wouldn’t do.

But it looks like Logan and CBS will all get away with it. The story tells too many people what they want to believe.

And that’s why CBS won’t fire her, even if a big media outlet finally picks up the real story and she’s exposed. Her superiors were in on it.

Category: Elsewhere

It looks like the fishy CBS press release about Lara Logan’s “brutal and sustained sexual assault” was indeed a lie. Finally, we have an account from some actual witnesses. Temoris Grecko blogged about what he and others saw:

I was buying tea from a vendor in Tahrir with two friends, Amr Fekry, a 26 year old Egyptian call center agent, and Andi Walden, a San Francisco political science student. Then we heard the noise and saw the mob coming. A blonde woman, neatly dressed with a white coat, was being dragged and pushed. It didn’t seem to me she was panicking, but rather trying to control the situation. They passed us in an moment. They were yelling “agent!, agent!”

I tried to run to intervene, but some Egyptians I didn’t know prevented me from doing it. There was nothing I could do and, as a foreign journalist, I’d surely end up being accused of being an agent too, and attacked. Fekry did go there and dissapeared into the crowd, 50 or 100 people strong.

Later I spoke with two young male activists who helped the person I later learned was Lara Logan (I didn’t know her before, I don’t usually follow US networks). They were Omar El Shennawy, a 21 year old teacher of English, and Abdulrahman Elsayed, a 25 year old teacher of physical education. They said they had formed a human chain with other young men to protect Logan, and then delivered her to the Egyptian Museum military post.

When I read CBS’s story and it’s interpretation by other media outlets, I felt troubled. It seemed misleading. “It didn’t make sense to me”, said Benjamin Starr, from Boston who arrived as a tourist on January 24th, and stayed to witness the uprising. He also saw the mob pass by with Lara Logan. “I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe something happened in another part of the square, but from what I saw, she was being taken by men to the soldiers, and her clothes were not torn off. There were no women, I didn’t see a single woman in the crowd around her.”

So basically, Logan got roughed up like a hundred other unremarked-on reporters in the area around that time. But for having the bad taste to bear witness to the facts (and against precious Lara’s claim to specialness) Grecko got attacked as a “yellow journalist” by white knight/pretty boy/nepotism hire* Dan Abrams: “Lara Logan Attacked Again, This Time By Yellow Journalists.”

… There is no doubt. It is a fact that Logan was hospitalized with severe injuries. Not a theory, not an allegation not a claim, but a fact. Because Grecko and Starr did not actually see the attack itself and other “activists” with whom Grecko claims to have spoken, did not witness it (or more likely don’t want to believe it), he questions whether it was sexual in nature and whether it happened at all.

A “fact” that she had “severe injuries?” Where does Abrams get this? All we know is Logan reportedly spent four days in a hospital. We have no idea why, and more importantly, we have no report or evidence that any injuries that did occur were sexual. As I noted in a previous post, it’s unlikely a hospital would turn away a woman of Logan’s wealth and fame if she felt the need to stay there for a few days claiming any type of attack.

And ironically, the accounts provided in Grecko’s story provide the only witness accounts of Logan’s attack that have appeared to date. Despite Logan’s claim of being rescued by women and soldiers, not a single person other than Logan herself has corroborated her account of her sexual attack.

Abrams goes on to call Grecko a “charlatan,” and to accuse him of discouraging women from reporting rape. Why, because potential rape claimants will read Grecko’s account and fear they, too, might be discredited by witnesses who saw it not happen? No, I have a lot more fear that underdog journalists like Grecko will be discouraged from reporting the facts because they fear being smeared by wealthy powerhouses like CBS and Abrams.

*Abrams’ dad is Columbia constitutional law professor/rich lawyer Floyd Abrams, which probably helped Abrams when he was at Columbia law grooming for his career as a TV legal analyst.

Category: Elsewhere

It’s not just the lack of corroboration that makes me suspicious of Logan’s sexual assault claim. It’s her own reaction, or lack thereof. Forget the twaddle about sexual assault victims being too depressed and terrified to “come foward.” That may be the average victim. But Lara Logan is absolutely not average, and certainly not a timid, powerless little nobody who has to fear the police, idiot neighbors or sneering classmates. She is a wealthy, sophisticated 40-year-old woman who has spent 10 years in war zones, who saw a soldier’s leg blown off next to her in a tank, who has a huge machine of support behind her. She’s not your 12-year-old daughter. She’s not even you. She wasn’t embarrassed about the Baghdad Love Triangle, she wasn’t embarrassed about having the baby of a still-married man with a toddler, and she wouldn’t be embarrassed about this.

Lara Logan is clearly not one of those people who feels like bad treatment is her fault. And she may be a lightweight, she may be a bimbo, but she is not a weakling and does not lack confidence. No way do I buy that she’s too traumatized to talk. She talks for a living. She exposes other people — many much less wealthy and famous than she is — to public scrutiny for a living. And we’re just supposed to swallow the minimal misleading press release that has made her a household word, wish her well, and “respect her privacy?” Any self-respecting journalist would roll her eyes at the hypocrisy.

And if this really did happen to her, she is, above all else, furious. Ever talked to a real sex crime victim? They want heads on pikes. And they talk, oh yes, given an opportunity they will talk until their throat dries out. Even kids (I have seen them testify. “How did that make you feel?” Ten-year-old witness: “I want to punch him in the nose!”) They welcome the opportunity to bear loud and angry witness.

So why is none of that happening? She has one of the biggest voices in the world right now, and the perfect opportunity to help locate and punish her attackers, reward her rescuers, and focus attention on sexual harassment and assault of women, and female reporters, in Arab countries. Yet she refuses comment.

Here’s what CBS should have sent out immediately:

This evening [because we’re not going to conceal this news while a thousand other reporters are potentially in danger!], correspondent Lara Logan suffered [major? moderate?] injuries during a mob attack in Tahrir Square. Ms. Logan was attacked when she was separated from her crew and surrounded by a mob. She was rescued from further harm by a group of female Egyptian protesters and a group of Egyptian soldiers. Her injuries required hospitalization, for which she returned to the United States immediately.

I could see where it might take a few days to sort out and figure out how to handle the sexual battery element. Logan herself should have followed up with a clarifying statement, something along these lines:

“I want to thank the public for the outpouring of support and concern I have received regarding the incident at Tahrir. I also extend my gratitude to the brave Egyptian woman and soldiers who offered their assistance. I understand their have been rumors that the attack against me was sexual in nature. Those reports are true. I was surrounded by a mob, struck multiple times, had my two front teeth knocked out [I’m making that up for example — ST], and was grabbed and battered sexually and had my clothes torn. Thankfully, I was not raped, due to the intervention of those brave female protesters. They deserve the gratitude of their countrymen and ours.

Unfortunately, as many of us who cover foreign wars know, my experience is not unique. Many reporters have suffered similar attacks. Some were not as lucky as I was. In addition, the women of may of the countries we cover suffer worse fates every day. Women’s rights, yadda yadda yadda they should be treated a lot better, I only hope I’ve increased awareness so others may be helped etc. I and my producers are reviewing tapes of the square that night and will bring forward any leads we have to U.S. and Egyptian authorities, and will be very grateful for any assistance from the public in stringing up these bastards by their balls.” [I hate press releases, but you get the idea].

Yet for some reason, Logan is choosing to act like a fictional sexual assault victim. Precious, delicate, traumatized into silence. Recovering in private. Letting the concerned public assume the worst about her condition and her injuries. Stoking the buzz. Maybe she just doesn’t want to invite the scrutiny that the other approach — the real, angry, public approach — would bring.


Update: Finally, some independent reporting, although it’s unsourced. The Times of London (through the NY Daily News, because it’s behind a paywall) indicates the mob actually attacked the entire crew, calling them spies and Israelis, and Logan was separated at that time. This should be extremely verifiable (so let’s hear from some named witnesses, dammit!). The attack doesn’t sound nearly as sexual in this story, however. Apparently some or all of her clothes were torn off, and she was beaten with fists and flagpoles, and suffered welts from “aggressive pinching.” Sounds pretty bad, but I’ll bet it’s not what all those sympathetic readers envisioned when they read “brutal and sustained sexual assault” in the CBS press release.

Category: Elsewhere

I’ve loved to hate Lara Logan ever since CBS fired an older, more experienced female reporter to bring her on (here’s me and TL going at it back in 2005). Before she became the poster girl for sexual harassment in the Middle East (link is to a South African publication with more info than the press release – she wasn’t actually raped*), Logan was known for an unprofessionally sexual persona at least as well as she was known for her war reporting. It’s not that she was completely worthless as a reporter — at least she has a long reporting resume — but her behavior and personal presentation suggested, well, bimbo. Her low-cut tank tops, breast implants, and her groupielike attitude toward the military made her seem more appropriate for Fox News.

I could count on Logan for a good pissing-off at least every couple years. Last year, she sucked up to the military by publicly castigating another war reporter for scooping her daring to report disrespectful things soldiers said about the administration (see another Rolling Stone reporter’s response in Lara Logan, You Suck) ; in 2008, the still-married Logan got proudly pregnant with a married high-up military contractor’s baby (they are now married and have a second child). His then-wife and mother of his 3-year-old was so distraught she overdosed on tranquilizers. In response to the scandal, Logan told the Washington Post a poor-me story about how people just don’t understand how it is when you’re overseas on assignment, and she’d lost a fallopian tube to an ectopic pregnancy so, gee, she’d thought at the ripe old age of 37 she wouldn’t get pregnant. (Remember this example of how when her actions are in question, Logan tells a sad story about herself with graphic detail.**)

But last week I read this CBS press release, and my distaste for Logan went temporarily on ice. That’s how we women are; when we hear about a “brutal and sustained sexual assault,” we identify and empathize. We dislike it so much that even when it happens to someone we dislike, we still get really mad. And as I searched Google looking for more information, I felt even worse for Logan, because every site that linked to the story had male commenters sneering about how she deserved it, and using her misfortune to grind their axes against just about every type of woman who exists. They meant me, too.

So let’s review my political options: 1) Scheming bimbo TV reporter; 2) The pro-rape lobby. It’s not hard to pick my side.

But that’s in public; on the Internet, “Sheila Tone” can voice her nuanced suspicions without fear of getting her eyes clawed out. It’s ironic that my feminist views are why I dislike Logan, but now they’re why I have to support her (inasmuch as being a “feminist” means “I REALLY don’t want to be sexually assaulted.”) . Ironic, but perfect sense. And it’s ironic that the same sexism I think is responsible for Logan’s rise (if we have to have a woman doing this job, let’s pick a youngish hottie with fake boobs) is now directed against her due to her alleged mistreatment by men. As I was combing Google for more information, I got suspicious of the one-source story. I wrote a post about my suspicions, looking for clues or additional insight. You’d think at least her detractors would be interested in discrediting her, but I still got some of the same piggish treatment the bro-net gave Logan.

It seems there is no group of people interested in questioning Logan’s story. If she is lying, she’s picked the perfect lie. It’s got something for everyone. Let’s review how her story validates the feelings of some diverse groups:

1) Jewish people. Jewish people fear anti-Semitism, especially from Arabs. And although it wasn’t in CBS’s press release, some nameless source told the NY Post that Logan’s Arab attackers were yelling “Jew!” So even though Logan isn’t Jewish, now she’s got their unquestioning sympathy. Her story supports the view that even average Arabs are dangerously anti-Semitic. I’ve got a Facebook friend from the college paper, another feminist former reporter, who would usually smell bullshit in such an uncorroborated, convenient story. But she’s also really scared of Arabs. She says even if there were lots of witnesses and good Samaritans, no one would speak of it publicly because they’d be terrified of being identified as someone who “helped a Jew.” Even soldiers. Even though they were willing to actually help her publicly. A lot of feminists and reporters are Jewish, and those are the folks we’d normally count on to scrutinize Logan.

2) People who don’t like Arabs. This one’s self-explanatory.

3 ) Sexist pigs. So why wouldn’t they challenge Logan’s story? Apparently because it’s more fun to think it actually did happen. Also, to challenge her truthfulness is basically admitting it is a big deal if it did happen, and a lot of these guys have the agenda that sexual assault is no big deal. Finally, many of these guys fall into category No. 2.

4) Women, especially female reporters. Apparently sexual harassment and assault of women in public, especially reporters, has been common in the Middle East and in war zones. Usually it consists of catcalls or groping, but there have been rapes and attempted rapes of foreign correspondents. Often it goes unreported because the women are embarrassed, or fear they’ll lose assignments. Logan’s story benefits them by drawing attention to their plight. And if we question her account, we’re criticizing her, and we’re siding with the sexist pigs and against all the real victims.

But here’s one of the suspicious things: While this may be true about war zones in general, it doesn’t appear this is how it was in Egypt during the protests. Here’s something by a female Slate reporter who was there: ).

What happened to Logan is every woman’s nightmare, but it’s also atypical. Most cases of sexual assault in Egypt are not as gruesome as Logan’s experience, they are instead much like what happens to Hussein—a near constant stream of verbal harassment and the odd groping.

But according to Hussein and from what I observed, Midan Tahrir during the 18-day Tahrir encampment was different. Logan’s assault is even more demoralizing for Egyptian women because it comes at a time when they truly believe things are changing for the better.

Harassment was at an all-time low during the protests. … Other women I spoke with inside Tahrir at the time remarked on the same thing. Many hope their role in the revolt that removed Mubarak’s 30-year regime has changed attitudes toward their gender.

And here’s a Jewish Journal commenter, “MLE,” who claims to be an actual Jewish woman who was also in the area that night, speaking as to the supposed anti-Semitism leading to Logan’s assault:

This is absolutely false. I am a Jewish female and I was in Midan Tahrir that evening and there were no problems. Everyone was celebrating and the xenophobic tones of the past few days were completely absent. I actually was surprised how safe I had felt because I had bad encounters in other massive crowds.

I didn’t cherry-pick this stuff. There just isn’t much out there. Which is, again, why I’m suspicious. Where are all the other women agreeing “Yeah, it was really creepy there that night?”

But why would Logan lie? Well, women lie about rape (or unspecified sexual assault) for the same reasons people lie about anything else. Usually it’s 1) for personal gain; or 2) to get out of a bind. The fact that fear of sexist pigs makes most women feel they have to believe the claimant makes it an especially effective lie.

As for personal gain, I conditionally agree with Chuck of “Piggy.” If you think Logan isn’t going to benefit from this, you’re either naive or stupid. It’s average women who don’t benefit from sexual assault. Average victims — average reporters — legitimately fear bad social effects from sexual assault. But not criminals ***– and not rich famous women. Lara Logan gets a phone call from Obama. Lara Logan, former tabloid-fodder bimbo, is now a bulletproof hero, a cause celebre. Only someone with a heart of … stone … would dare to bring up her weaknesses as a reporter and her questionable sexual past. Her critics only increase her public sympathy.

As for No. 2, getting out of a bind: A real possibility. Remember, Logan and her crew got tossed out of Egypt on their ears at the beginning of the protests. Meanwhile, the other networks were getting the story. I could see this causing some problems with CBS. Logan finally came back, and unrelated to any stories she reported became the most discussed reporter from the event. She accomplished little in Egypt, yet her name is now a household word.

Victim or not, she sucks. But you guys suck even more, because you’re the reason she’ll get away with it. She, of all people, gets to be compensated in spades for your misogyny.

* Her clothes were torn off her and she would have been raped, but for Egyptian female protesters throwing themselves across her body! So moving … yet so unsubstantiated.

** After she and her crew got detained in Egypt and then kicked out for allegedly spying, and she felt she’d failed, she told a story of being cruelly interrogated, so sick she was vomiting in her cell and needed an IV. She’d been sick for days before, you see, and the poor brave dear didn’t tell anyone because she was so dedicated to her job. But yet again, our only witness to this extreme suffering is Logan herself.

***Because I talk to a lot of them in my job. “I disappeared for two months and couldn’t drug test … because I was RAPED! Yeah, that’s the ticket.” (Did you call the police?) “No, um, I was scared he’d come after me.” Most of the excuses I heard have nothing to do with rape, but the excuse is more frequent than I would have expected. Doesn’t work though.

Category: Elsewhere, Newsroom