Photo: Cass Bird/Trunk Archive
After a six-month, network-imposed leave-of-absence, Lara Logan is reportedly back at CBS and its venerable news magazine show, 60 Minutes.
Logan and her producer, Max McClellan, both skulked quietly out of Black Rock back in November of last year after their bombshell Benghazi report blew up in their faces in front of the entire country. CBS News, you'll remember, was forced to retract the story that was based almost entirely on the word of a security contractor named Dylan Davies after it was revealed that Davies was pretty much lying his ass off. The results of an internal investigation by the network declared the story to be "deficient in several respects," including the fact that Logan and McClellan for some reason never bothered to look into whether Davies had told a different story to the feds in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack (he had) and nobody thought it might be a conflict of interest that a CBS-owned publisher was about to release Davies's tell-all book.
In the end, the whole thing was a huge black-eye for a news product that's enjoyed a generally stellar reputation for decades.
At the time, I wrote that CBS was almost surely not going to fire Logan. It would have been great to conclude that the reason for this had something to do with the network's ongoing faith in her as a journalist or even some behind-the-scenes conspiracy to bring contrived "balance" to 60 Minutes in the name of fighting accusations of a liberal bias. But my assessment pointed to nothing so noble or complicated. I believed then and believe now that the reason CBS is keeping Logan around is that she's a star and therefore a commodity. She's a beautiful, smart correspondent with name-recognition, and she was always going to redeem herself after this debacle. She could either do it for CBS or for its competition. Lara Logan isn't the kind of face you want to see on someone else's network.
Yes, they're going to have to keep a tight leash on her and her producer and you can be sure that every investigation they put together will be subjected to strict oversight from start to finish, but it was always practically a guarantee that Logan would be back. There are of course still plenty of questions as to how a faulty story that essentially called the President of the United States a liar was allowed to run the gauntlet of safeguards that are supposed to be in place at the network news level and still make air. But I'm not sure we'll ever get satisfactory answers to any of them.