A CBS and Murdoch Hoax?  The “Sexual Assault” on Lara Logan

It is a mark of prudence never to put our complete trust in those who have deceived us even once. – René Descartes 

Propaganda is the bread and butter of covert action. – Gregory Treverton 

Such wild, delirious excitement has seldom been seen on U.S. television as the scene of celebration in Tahrir Square, Cairo, on Friday, February 11, the night that Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, announced finally that he was leaving office.  In the thick of the jubilation no one was more popular than the members of the international news media, who the Egyptian protestors recognized had helped shine the light on their desperate efforts to the rest of the world.  The reporters for CBS, NBC, and ABC captured the mood quite well.  The reporters, themselves, could hardly help being caught up in the jubilation. 

Then we learned—or thought we learned—a full four 24-hour news cycles (that is, four days) later that CBS News had known for all that time that a truly shocking news event had taken place amidst all the jubilation.  We must gather from their sparse report, because details are completely lacking, that their reporter Lara Logan or members of her crew had told their superiors at CBS as quickly as they could all about the occurrence that served as the basis for CBS’s cryptic announcement the following Tuesday, February 15:

CBS News


On Friday, Feb. 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS chief foreign 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 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 home recovering.

Update: Logan left the hospital on Wed. Feb. 16, to recover in her Washington, D.C. home. She received a call from President Obama expressing his concern.

Two months have now passed, and CBS has had no further elaboration.  On March 17 CBS News Executive Director for Communications, Kevin Tedesco, responding to a telephone inquiry, said that what happened was a “private matter,” and that no further details would be forthcoming from CBS.

The response is, of course, absurd.  Lara Logan is a public figure, and when CBS published its brief report it made headlines all over the world.  Even had it never been reported to anyone, it would not have been a private matter.  A “brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating” is a serious crime, whoever the parties involved and anywhere it might occur in the world.  Moreover, the one question to which Tedesco was responding, that is, “Why did CBS wait four days to report the occurrence?” is not a private matter for Logan or her crew members to answer.  It is a question for CBS to answer and they refuse to do so.

It may come as a surprise to many readers that CBS has had nothing further to say, because other supposed “facts” about the case have been reported.  The following clarification came from the Wall Street Journal online the very day of the CBS release: “The separation and assault lasted for roughly 20 to 30 minutes, said a person familiar with the matter, who added that it was ‘not a rape.’ A CBS News spokesman declined to comment beyond the [original] statement.”

On the next day, Wednesday, February 16, the New York Post reported that, “A network source told The Post that her attackers were screaming, ‘Jew! Jew!’ during the assault.  Using a spate of unattributed sources, they also address the issue of the delay in reporting:

Her injuries were described to The Post as "serious."

CBS went public with the incident only after it became clear that other media outlets were on to it, sources said.

"A call came in from The [Associated Press]" seeking information, a TV-industry source told The Post. "They knew she had been attacked, and they had details. CBS decided to get in front of the story."

Most network higher-ups didn't even know how brutal the sexual assault was until a few minutes before the statement went out.

"We were surprised it stayed quiet" as long as it did, one source said.

Another source insisted that Logan was "involved in the process" of deciding whether to make her attack public, and ultimately understood why the statement had to be released.

CBS is not saying it, but the New York Post is creating the impression for them that CBS sat on the story for four days because, for some reason, Logan wanted them to sit on the story.  Further, they are leading us to believe that the other news organizations were behaving like real news organizations and had no intention of doing like CBS and unprofessionally suppressing this blockbuster of a news story. 

Four days after the New York Post story, on Sunday, February 20, additional details that were, again, all from unnamed sources came out through The Times of London.  We have to rely upon Monday’s Daily Mail for our quotes because one must be a subscriber of The Times to read the original story:

According to one source, reported in The Sunday Times newspaper, sensitive parts of her body were covered in red marks that were originally thought to have been bite marks.   After further examination they were revealed to be from aggressive pinching.

It has also been revealed that she was stripped, punched and slapped by the crowd, which was labelling [sic] her a spy and chanting 'Israeli' and 'Jew' as they beat her.

And medical sources have revealed that marks on her body were consistent with being whipped and beaten with the makeshift poles that were used to fly flags during the demonstration.

An unnamed friend of the reporter told The Sunday Times: 'Lara is getting better daily. The psychological trauma is as bad as, if not worse than, the physical injuries. She might talk about it at sometime in the future, but not now.'

Guards who had escorted her into the square were also badly beaten by the mob, with one suffering a broken hand, and it took women in the square and about 20 soldiers to finally rescue her from her attackers.

She was taken to the Four Seasons hotel, where she was treated and sedated by the hotel doctor.

Within hours of the attack she was was [sic] flown out of the country and spent five days in a New York hospital.

So, putting it all together, what we are being told is that on this night of delirious celebration Logan suffered some sort of non-rape sexual assault and beating by a crowd of more than 200 people, some of whom might well have been using the sticks that carry signs, and that the beating was so bad that it required five full days of hospitalization in an unnamed facility in New York City.  In spite of the extreme severity of this attack, CBS then dawdled for four days in reporting what had occurred.  At the same time, in spite of the tight lid CBS was keeping on the story, quite soon after they released it reporters at The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and The Times of London were somehow able to learn a number of additional details from sources that they choose not to share with the public.

Obviously, some serious questions about this completely uncorroborated story are in order, but before we enumerate them, let us have a look at who is telling it to us.  Though there would appear to be four separate news organs involved, there are in essence only two sources, CBS and the Rupert Murdoch empire.  The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and The Times of London are all owned by Murdoch.

The Motive for the Hoax

Are we saying that CBS and Murdoch have simply made this story up?  Indeed so.  But why would these news organizations do something so utterly outrageous?

The key to the question is in the term, “news organizations.”  Anyone who has been paying attention through the years would know that they are better characterized as propaganda organizations.  Item number one on the agenda of these propaganda organizations has been to demonize Muslims and Arabs.  From that perspective, in their attempts to get on top of events, the major networks had produced an absolute propaganda disaster for themselves.  Never before had the people of the “Arab street,” those who are regularly demonized by the mainstream press and entertainment industry, been shown so sympathetically.  If it’s, say, a major peace demonstration in the United States you won’t have reporters down among the crowds projecting the concerns of the demonstrators.  The crowds will also be laced with radical government plants and countered by small knots of “opposition” demonstrators, who will get outsized media attention.  By contrast, the events and the coverage in Tahrir Square were completely out of control.

Something had to be done to bring the propaganda back on message, and it took four days to put it all together.  That is a much more plausible explanation for the delay in reporting the Logan “assault” than anything that has been offered by anyone so far.

The Implausibility of the “Attack”

Had there been an actual attack of the nature described, CBS was running a real risk in waiting so long to report it, and it was not that they would be scooped by other mainstream U.S. news organizations.  That story might have carried some weight a dozen years ago, but this is the cell-phone camera, citizen-reporting, Internet age.  The real danger is that it would have been all over the Internet before CBS had told anyone.  CBS was safe in sitting on the story, though, if it never happened.

Now, if you haven’t already done so, please go back and look at the scene that night in Tahrir Square as shown by the major U.S. networks and try to imagine the events that CBS told us with its Lara Logan release.  The events are completely incongruous, as incongruous as the look of worry and dread on Lara Logan’s face in the one photo that CBS has released with the jubilation in the background.

As it happens, the behavior of the anti-government demonstrators was even better than it appeared on the major media reports.  The following is from a February 22 interview by Michel Martin of National Public Radio of Rawya Rageh of Al Jazeera and Martha Radatz of ABC:

MARTIN: So, Rawya, if I could start with you, because you've been with us from time to time and we know you've been out, you know, covering these events, you know, from the beginning. And I wanted to ask you, did you have any concerns about your safety when you were out on the street?

Ms. RAGEH: Not at all, Michel. What happened to Lara Logan was actually quite surprising for many people here, myself included. Particularly in the reference of this taking place in Tahrir Square during the protests. All throughout the 18 days of the protest in Tahrir Square, the gatherings were refreshingly free of the sexual harassment and taunting that women are not particularly strangers to here in Egypt.

In fact, I witnessed firsthand in the square how organizers of the protests were very keen on having space for the women, allowing the passage through more comfortable areas rather than being crushed in the sea of humanity that's been camped out there for days. There's a lot of respect for women in the square. Female activists have long been a part of the opposition movement here. But we also saw a lot of newcomers, conservative women covered up in the niqab, upper class women clad in designer clothes, a mixture of women from all walks of life, really.

And I remember thinking to myself how comfortably they were all gathered there, with the threat or prospect of being harassed, really. The last thing on their minds, certainly on my mind, for one, the known gender boundaries, really, in the Egyptian society, had completely broken down during this uprising.

(Skip response by Liza Gross of the International Women’s Media Foundation.  It is based upon conjecture, not experience.)

MARTIN: Martha Raddatz, with her two different views - Rawya tells us that she was very surprised to hear about what happened to Lara. And Liza was telling us that she actually was not. What about you? May I ask your reaction when you heard about the attack on Lara Logan?

Ms. RADDATZ: Well, I think the thing that surprised me most was the day it happened, because most of the violence in Tahrir Square had been days before that, before Mubarak had stepped down. And when he did, it was largely a celebration. So I was stunned by the fact that in that crowd that you looked at as celebratory, that those horrible things were going on somewhere in that crowd with Lara.

I have not ever experienced any feeling that anyone was looking at me in any different way. In other words, yes, there's always danger. I was in Yemen during some of the protests last week and certainly there is a sense of danger there. But I didn't feel particularly any more danger as a female correspondent than as a male correspondent.

Somehow, out of this happy, well-behaved crowd a radically different sinister mob of some 200 males (we may presume) coalesced and coincidentally Lara Logan got separated from her protective cocoon.  If this was really the “dangerous element” that had been “whipped into a frenzy” wouldn’t this have been absolutely the least likely time for Logan to have become separated from her crew?  What about the cameraman who captured the look of dread on Logan’s face?  Shouldn’t her expression alone have signaled that now is the time to become particularly protective?  But wait, TV cameramen don’t use still cameras; they take moving pictures.  What did the camera capture before and after that one still frame?  Did the camera show Logan being somehow enveloped by this dangerous element?  Where is the video footage?  And are we to believe that Logan did not scream at any time or that if she did scream, her crew didn’t hear it, or if they did, they ignored her? 

Almost as difficult to picture is how it was that those brave women and 20 soldiers rode to the rescue and how Logan “reconnected with the CBS team.”  One would think that at least one of the rescuers would want to tell someone how they did it, but for some reason they seem to crave privacy as much as this feckless CBS team.

As unforthcoming as the CBS team or anyone else who might know anything at all about the “incident” has been with the public, various unidentified members of the Murdoch organization have been able to learn those additional “details” that soon appeared in his newspapers. 

Further adding the odor of pure propaganda to the supposed incident, Neocon Muslim-hating sites weighed in with additional “information” for their faithful followers:  “We have learned now that the gang rape and beating may have gone on for three hours,” exclaimed Uncoverage, which touts itself as the “Official 2011 CPAC Blogger.”  “The gang rape and multiple beatings of Lara Logan in a crowd of 200 hyena-Muslims in the main square in downtown Cairo totally destroys that glowing, happy mantra of the mainstream media about the darling, freedom-loving revolutionaries.”

Not to be outdone, professional Islamophobe, Pamela Geller, claimed that there were videos and camera phone footage showing extreme brutality inflicted upon the victim.  The supposed “details” that she recounts, which are too disgusting to be repeated here, can be found at her web site, Atlas Shrugs.

Because they are more “respectably mainstream” one may surmise that The Wall Street Journal and The Times accounts of a considerably tamer attack of shorter duration are the ones we’re supposed to believe, but who knows?  The matter should not be left to surmises and suppositions.  CBS should clear the air.  In fact, they should not have left the air so foggy in the first place with their vague delayed report.  But one can’t help but believe that this situation in which one is free to believe whatever one wants as long as the reputation of Arabs and Muslims is besmirched is just how the CBS propagandists want things to stand.

How Dare You?

In most cases, anyone expressing skepticism about a charge from a woman of sexual assault can expect to be met with howls of indignation from all directions.  To remind us of that fact, we were treated to a particularly weak performance by a presumed antiwar activist and freelance reporter by the name of Nir Rosen.  In one fell swoop Rosen managed to discredit both opponents of U.S. military aggression in the Middle East and any possible skeptics of Logan’s story by calling her a “warmonger” and trivializing what CBS said happened to her on his Twitter account.  He promptly stepped down, presumably under pressure, from his job as a media fellow at the New York University Center for Law and Justice, and the pro-war Neocon blogosphere went into full gloat mode.  This is from NewsBuster: Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias:

This looks like a rare moment where a leftist media commentator has had to pay the price for truly outrageous remarks. Put it on your calendar. Let's hope that Logan and her family did not see Rosen's hateful remarks as well.

PS: Rosen has a long record of trying to promote an American withdrawal from Iraq based on false assertions about how well the war is going there. In late 2006 when the war was starting to turn and the surge was working, Rosen was preaching the gospel of failure.

If there were no other reason to suspect the CBS/Murdoch Logan story, the prominent place that Rosen quickly achieved in the episode should be enough.  See how quickly he got on CNN and how badly he acquitted himself, claiming that he didn’t even know originally that it was a sexual assault that was being alleged.  Rosen is precisely the wooly haired and wooly minded sort that our manipulators like to put up in the front of peace demonstrations, turning off average citizens whom, if they were given a more honest view of the demonstration participants, they would be more inclined to identify with and support.  Rosen’s lack of authenticity is also evident in this interview on Russian Television.  Notice, in particular, his statement late in the interview that the 911 calamity was an instance in which some terrorists “got lucky.”

CBS and Murdoch, Propagandists   

For anyone doubting that CBS and the Murdoch empire are essentially propaganda operations, perhaps some background is necessary.  Concerning the former, this is from Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and Her Washington Post Empire, by Deborah Davis:

[John S.] Hayes had been able to contribute to [Washington] Post Company broadcasting largely because of his wartime acquaintance with Colonel William S. Paley, the founder and chairman of the board of CBS. Paley was a businessman who believed that the commercial media, as well as the military, must develop ‘all manner of propaganda' to help in the war effort; Hayes was the director of a radio network that was the military extension of Paley's commercial network. When Hayes came to the Post, which then owned only one local radio station, he looked to Paley, who owned a Washington radio outlet, as the company's entree into national broadcasting.

"Paley's own friendship with Allen Dulles is now known to have been one of the most influential and significant in the communications industry. He provided cover for CIA agents, supplied out-takes of news film, permitted the debriefing of reporters, and in many ways set the standard for the cooperation between the CIA and the major broadcast companies which lasted until the mid-1970s.

The nature of their reporting on our various wars seriously calls into question the assertion that the CBS-CIA relationship ever ended.  As for Murdoch, suffice it to say that if he were a front for Israel’s Mossad, it is difficult to see how he would behave any differently.  Look at the news magazine that his News Corporation founded in 1995, The Weekly Standard.  Noting its prominent stable of regular contributors, its virtual lack of advertising, and its ubiquity at newsstands and book stores around the country, it is easy to believe the statement in The New Yorker that it loses “more than a million dollars a year” and the claim in Wikipedia that it “has never made a profit.”  Combine that information with its tendentious content and what you have is the very definition of a propaganda organ. 

For some mystifying reason, the Clarity Media Group purchased the perennially money-losing magazine from Murdoch in 2009, but it’s still the same Weekly Standard.  That it should spill copious ink shooting the Rosen fish in a barrel over his Logan remarks and his antiwar position in general, then, should come as no surprise.  And The Weekly Standard’s and other “mainstream” media’s publicizing of Rosen as a leading representative of the antiwar position dates from long before 2009.  Their article about him entitled “The Surrender Solution” was written in November of 2005.  You won’t find them giving similar publicity to such antiwar spokespeople as, say, former Reagan official Paul Craig Roberts or former Marine Gordon Duff.

Would They Lie?

Almost everyone knows by now that the mainstream media regularly relay and even embellish the lies of the government, particularly when issues of the greatest importance are involved.  If you don’t, you are unlikely to have read this far and you are probably unfit to read anything above the level of children’s fantasies.  But would they go so far as to make up such a colossal lie as we are suggesting that they might well have done in this case?

When it comes to CBS, and even to Logan’s immediate employer, 60 Minutes, we are not exactly in uncharted waters.  In his piece on the 1993 death of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster by gunshot, the venerable Mike Wallace on October 8, 1995, stared straight into the camera and made the following statement:  "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."  There is not a word of truth there.  Wallace even goes well beyond what the official “investigations” say.

One can read all about it in the appendix to Part 6 of “American’s Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster.”  That appendix memorializes this writer’s exchanges with Wallace’s producer, Robert Anderson.  Characterizing one of the two principal defenses that Anderson had made for the words that he put in Wallace’s mouth, I say, “…you wrapped yourself in the prestige of CBS News, saying that because you have no particular axe to grind, if, in your professional opinion a thing is adjudged to be true, we should all accept it as true.”

Up to now, that’s about all we have from CBS with respect to the Lara Logan sexual assault story.  When the source is the likes of CBS News and Rupert Murdoch, we should demand more.

David Martin

April 13, 2011


See also Neocon Blogosphere Changes Tune on Lara Logan and A CBS and Murdoch Hoax, Part 2.




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