CBS News announced yesterday that correspondent Lara Logan was attacked and sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square on February 11, amid celebrations following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. The outpouring of support for Logan online was immediate, as news organizations, blogs, and Twitter flooded with messages of solidarity for the injured journalist, who was held up mostly for her brave reporting, keeping with the general theme of lionizing those who put themselves in dangerous situations in order to spread information. But not everyone was sympathetic, with a few using the opportunity to politicize the quick, intense reaction to Logan’s plight, or otherwise make insensitive jokes. Most noticeable was journalist and New York University fellow Nir Rosen, whose crass tweets have already led to his resignation.
“Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. Where was her buddy McCrystal?” Rosen tweeted in a since deleted message yesterday afternoon, referencing CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, previously beaten in Egypt, and the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal, alluding to Logan as a pro-war reporter. Rosen followed with, “Yes yes it is wrong what happened to her of course, but it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too.”
Rosen continued: “It’s always wrong, that’s obvious, but I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she’ll get,” and, “She’s so bad that I ran out of sympathy for her.”
As the outrage grew — Rosen says he gained about 500 new followers as of this morning — he first attempted to defend himself, writing, “Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger,” before scaling back and repenting. “I apologize and take it back. Joking with friends got out of line when I didn’t want to back down. Forgot twitter is not exactly private,” he wrote.
This morning, Rosen’s Twitter page is a string of subsequent apologies: “I feel I should make one last statement. I offer my deepest apologies to Ms. Logan, her friends and her family. I never meant to hurt anyone.” He says he will no longer be using Twitter.
But Rosen, who has written for publications like the New Yorker, Time and the New York Times, along with three books on subjects like violence in the Middle East and martyrdom, will have a hard time outrunning this snafu, if his current Google results are any indication.
We called the New York University Center on Law and Security, where Rosen is a fellow, this morning for comment and were pointed to an online statement on the matter:
From Karen J. Greenberg, Executive Director, Center on Law and Security
Nir Rosen is always provocative, but he crossed the line yesterday with his comments about Lara Logan. I am deeply distressed by what he wrote about Ms. Logan and strongly denounce his comments. They were cruel and insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mr. Rosen tells me that he misunderstood the severity of the attack on her in Cairo. He has apologized, withdrawn his remarks, and submitted his resignation as a fellow, which I have accepted. However, this in no way compensates for the harm his comments have inflicted. We are all horrified by what happened to Ms. Logan, and our thoughts are with her during this difficult time.
Rosen, though, isn’t alone in his insensitivity. Right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel used the opportunity to push her racist, anti-Muslim agenda:
So sad, too bad, Lara. No one told her to go there. She knew the risks. And she should have known what Islam is all about. Now she knows. Or so we’d hope. But in the case of the media vis-a-vis Islam, that’s a hope that’s generally unanswered.
This never happened to her or any other mainstream media reporter when Mubarak was allowed to treat his country of savages in the only way they can be controlled.
Now that’s all gone. How fitting that Lara Logan was “liberated” by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the “liberation.”
Hope you’re enjoying the revolution, Lara! Alhamdilllullah [praise allah].
In an update to the above post, Schlussel writes, “The reaction of the left to this article is funny in its predictability. Sooo damn predictable. Of course I don’t support ‘sexual assault’ or violence against Lara Logan, and I said that nowhere here. … I did say that it warms my heart when reporters who openly deny that Islam is violent and constantly promote it get the same kinds of threats of violence I get every day from Muslims. Because now they know how it feels.”
Of course, both Schlussel and Rosen’s brands of hate and anger are echoed in comments sections across the internet, where the anonymous hordes chime in with insight like, “The Third World is no place for an attractive female journalist, particularly one who is white and blond. She is actually lucky it wasn’t worse. This modern day Egypt might as well be Haiti.”
“I would totally rape her,” said one commenter when Logan was detained in Egypt earlier this month. And on and on.
As a relevant cleanse from the evils of both human nature and the internet, remember that there is both sympathy and good information out there too: Here is Judith Matloff’s report “Foreign Correspondents and Sexual Abuse,” including male journalists, downloadable as a .pdf, from the Columbia Journalism Review. Meanwhile, Logan is said to be in good spirits and was released from the hospital on Tuesday evening.