For those of you who thought that Lara Logan’s suspension from CBS News a few weeks back might have heralded her permanent exit from the network, sorry to burst your bubble. Yesterday it was reported that both Logan and her producer, Max McClellan, would be returning to work early next year.
Politico’s Dylan Byers:
Logan and her producer, who had unfinished projects in the works when they left in November, have started booking camera crews for news packages, network sources said. Their return could come as early as next month.
Kevin Tedesco, the spokesperson for “60 Minutes,” said a specific return date had not been scheduled.
“Lara Logan’s return has not been scheduled,” he wrote in a statement. “Beyond that, we do not comment on speculation.”
Translation: Yeah, she’s not out of a job, despite being at the center of one of the biggest and most embarrassing journalistic fuck-ups in the modern history of network television. Logan and McClellan essentially accused the President of the United States of lying about the September 11, 2012 Benghazi siege, all based on the accusations of a man who himself was lying through his teeth, a fact which could easily have been uncovered had anyone bothered to look. By any measure, both of them should be out of a job right now.
But as I said last month, CBS was very likely never going to get rid of Lara Logan. In fact, keeping her is the savviest business decision possible for the network, simply because she’s a beautiful, bright and shining star whose tarnish will wear off over time — and she has a lot of time left in her career so it’s better she redeem herself in a position where it can benefit CBS News rather than its competition. So, yes, a very smart business decision on CBS’s part.
Now, is it a good decision from an ethical standpoint? No, of course not. There probably should’ve been an indentation in the shape of both Logan and McClellan’s asses on the sidewalk outside Black Rock about an hour after the story publicly fell apart and CBS News realized just how badly 60 Minutes had screwed up. But CBS News is a smart media organization and it knows that in our era of 140-character attention spans and social media fixations on a different shiny object every day, the scent of scandal surrounding Logan wouldn’t last so, again, better to just keep her in place and wait for the whole thing to inevitably blow over.
Unfortunately, 60 Minutes has managed to prove twice in a matter of a couple of months that from a journalistic standpoint it’s nowhere near the beacon of unimpeachable standards it used to be. Just last Sunday the show ran a story on the NSA that looked a hell of a lot like, as Slate cleverly put it, an episode of MTV Cribs. It was an inside look at an organization under quite a bit of fire right now that failed to ask any tough questions, offer any adversarial opinions, or even feature a reporter willing to maintain some shred of objectivity. The face of the piece, John Miller, is a decent journalist — he’s a former ABC correspondent and member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and his 2002 book, The Cell, was indeed a damn good look at the political and law enforcement failures leading up to 9/11 — but he bills himself as an insider and therefore wasn’t the right person to front such a story.
Sunday’s story made it pretty clear that we shouldn’t expect a sudden halt in the unfortunate decline of 60 Minutes. Bringing Logan and McClellan back on board cements it.