Media Plays the Blame Game with Lara Logan

By Kirsten Meeder, Field Intern

It appears that almost everyone has something to say about CBS news correspondent Lara Logan’s recent sexual assault. The incident occurred in Tahrir Square, Egypt, where a mob, reportedly of more than 200 men, attacked Logan and her news team, who were covering the political developments in the field. After separating Logan from her crew, the mob beat and attacked her in what CBS called “a brutal and sustained sexual assault.” Her ordeal ended only once Egyptian soldiers and a group of women were able to stop the mob and free her.

Little did Logan know that her horrendous experience was still not over. Her next trial came in the form of speculation about her story that reverberated around the web. Many journalists and conservative bloggers were quick to assign blame for Logan’s experience. Drawing from their own racism and sexism, individuals like journalist Nir Rosen and conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel placed the blame directly on Logan herself. Schlussel stated that since Logan was in a Muslim country, she should have expected as much. Shortly after making dismissive and insensitive statements about Logan, Rosen resigned from his position at New York University.

Strangely enough, this type of vulgar dialogue was not present when ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff almost died from wounds he received in Iraq in 2006. No one dared suggest that Woodruff’s injuries didn’t count since he was a young, white and (some might say) attractive civilian who had been reporting in a chaotic region.

Even more recently, Anderson Cooper was also caught in a mob that resulted from his covering the Egyptian protests. Although his injuries were much less serious, and Anderson was able to walk away from the incident, he was also not subject to any victim blaming. He was, just as Logan had been, doing his job.

Unfortunately, for survivors of rape and sexual assault, malicious and erroneous slander is all too familiar. Too often victim blaming is used to justify violent crimes, dehumanize survivors, and dismiss the legitimacy of the crime and the person it was perpetrated against. It does not matter that Logan was a woman or in a turbulent area — no one should have to experience violence or be subject to the perverse justification that they brought it upon themselves. Blaming women for being targeted for violence is not only a heinous injustice, but also a sick and unsubstantiated rationalization based in misogyny and ignorance.

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