When Lara Logan reached the pinnacle of American journalism more than a decade ago, as chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, her bosses had no hesitation in sending her to the biggest stories in the world. Producers begged to work with her as she conducted interviews with a Taliban commander, chronicled the Arab Spring and monitored the Ebola outbreak. Former President Barack Obama called her to wish her well after the most traumatic event of what seemed like a limitless career: she was sexually assaulted while covering a demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011.
But today Ms. Logan cuts a very different figure in the American media. Rather than on national newscasts, she can be found as a guest on right-wing podcasts or speaking at a fringe meeting, promoting lies about Covid vaccine deaths and conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
She recently downplayed the seriousness of the January 6 attack on the Capitol on one of those shows. “Is this the crime of the century now?” she asked sarcastically. She repeated pro-Kremlin attacks on the United States, accusing Americans of “arming the Nazis of Ukraine”. And she has Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Hillary Clinton compared to some of Hitler’s most notorious henchmen.
Her latest project is an upcoming documentary about voting machines called “Selection Code,” which is funded by Mike Lindell, the chief executive of My Pillow, who helped spread some of the most outrageous myths about the 2020 presidential election.
From the outside, Ms. Logan’s path was one of the most puzzling in the modern history of television news. Her reporting for “60 Minutes” and the “CBS Evening News” helped the country understand the toll that a decade of military conflict is taking on US forces. CBS News executives saw her as a next-generation star in the form of a Mike Wallace or Dan Liever.
But her transformation, to a star of far-right media, is one that former colleagues who worked closely with her didn’t come out of nowhere.
More than half a dozen journalists and executives who worked with Ms. Logan during ’60 Minutes’, most of whom spoke anonymously to discuss private interactions with her, said she sometimes revealed political affiliations that left them wondering if she was reporting objectively. could do from the Obama administration. military and foreign policy. She has seemed increasingly conservative in her politics over the years, they said, and more outspoken about her suspicions of the White House’s motives and war strategy.
Some said her views were beginning to align with the views of Obama critics she then relied on as sources and who have since become close allies of former President Donald J. Trump, including Lindsey Graham, the aggressive Republican senator from South Carolina, and Lieutenant General. Michael Flynn, who has contributed to efforts to undo the 2020 election and has embraced countless other conspiracy theories.
Yet Ms. Logan’s turn has disappointed many who viewed her as smart and fearless and admired her for returning time and again to Iraq and Afghanistan, despite nearly losing her life in 2003, when a US military vehicle she was in. was hit by Taliban fire. She lay unconscious as her crew and military personnel struggled to get her to safety, assuming she was dead.
“She was extremely courageous in her war reporting,” Ira Rosen said.† a former “60 Minutes” producer who wrote a book about his years with the network, “Ticking Clock”.
“When I think of Lara,” added Mr. Rosen added, “I want to remember the Lara who put her life on the line by reporting for CBS News in Afghanistan and Egypt. The one I don’t want to know about right now.”
When asked for comment, Ms. Logan said she would not be participating in “a hit piece”, adding “I’m not interested”, before abruptly hanging up. But these days, she often speaks to conservative talk show hosts about her days at CBS, describing what she sees as a culture of conformity in the mainstream media.
“The minute I went off the lead I thought, ‘Oh, she used to be great, what happened to her?'” Ms. Logan said on a recent episode of Mr. Lindell’s web show, “The Lindell Report.”
“Oh, she’s outraged and disgraced,” Ms Logan added, referring to the criticism and ostracism she’s faced in recent months after making disparaging comments about public health officials such as Dr. Fauci, and others.
In November, after she saw Dr. Fauci compared to Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who performed inhumane experiments on concentration camp inmates, Ms. Logan was dumped by the production company that made a show in which she starred on Fox Nation, the streaming service for Fox. News. Her old talent agency has also cut ties with her, according to a press release.
Since then, she has been relegated even further to the fringes of conservative media, where vaccine skeptics and election deniers receive and greet her as a whistleblower who they say exposes cover-ups in the mainstream media. In interviews over the past few weeks, she has focused on a range of seemingly unrelated targets – rioting against “open border ideologues” and the United Nations bureaucrats she accuses of supporting them, so-called smart meters that record energy consumption in homes, and activists. working to reverse climate change, which she has called “another load of BS”
Though she expresses views that are harshly correct today, some former CBS News colleagues recalled that her politics wasn’t always easy to label as conservative when they worked together. One said Ms. Logan, who grew up in South Africa, once expressed her dismay at the widespread arms trade in the United States and said she did not understand the affinity many Americans have with the Second Amendment. She spoke of her family with pride when she described them as staunch opponents of apartheid, they said.
Several people who worked alongside her said her fearlessness in war zones was double-edged – it made for good television, but also sometimes made them question her judgment. Occasionally, they said, she led her producers and crew into situations they didn’t think were worth the risk. Some cameramen refused to work with her, one of the former colleagues added, and she may be dismissive of the security teams the network had hired to protect its journalists.
A former CBS producer who worked with her, Peter Klein, said in an interview that the structure of a large newsroom had a moderating influence. “There is a system in newsrooms that provides checks and balances,” said Mr. Klein, founder of the Global Reporting Center in British Columbia, a non-profit organization. “Most of us need that system, but she really needed that system. And we knew that from the start,” he says.
“Now she’s just unfiltered,” Mr. Klein added.
The former CBS reporters said spending more than a decade reporting from war zones began to take an emotional toll on her, as it did with nearly anyone repeatedly exposed to the trauma of combat. And they said they noticed a significant change in her behavior — at times seemingly more paranoid, erratic and deferential to her military sources — after she was sexually assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011. In that attack, a mob of men grabbed her, separated her from her crew and ripped her clothes in what she described as a “ruthless” attack. She was in hospital for several days.
The following year, Ms. Logan gave a speech that would predict her demise at CBS. The US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had just been attacked, killing four Americans and sparking a firestorm among Republicans who accused Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, then Secretary of State, of underestimating the threat terrorists posed to Americans .
Sounding more like an army advocate than a reporter, Ms. Logan told her Chicago audience that she hoped the government would get ready to deploy its “best clandestine warriors” to exact “exact revenge.” The world should know, she added, that the United States would not be attacked and then “watch and do nothing about it”. And she accused the Obama administration of downplaying the Taliban threat and of lying “about who they really are.”
Then, about a year later, she started telling people that she was working on a story that would “blow the lid on Benghazi,” according to one person’s recollection.
The story she came up with was the kind of work that in “60 Minutes” was known somewhat disparagingly as a “book report” because it was based in part on an upcoming book. Ms. Logan interviewed the author, a security contractor stationed in Libya, who said in an excerpt broadcast on Oct. 27, 2013, that he had helped defend the compound on the night of the attack. He described in poignant detail how he came face to face with the enemy.
DailyExpertNews reported several weeks later that the contractor had told the FBI that he was not on the property that night. After initially defending Ms. Logan and the report, CBS News withdrew it and apologized. Ms. Logan and her producer were given leave and she admitted she made a “disappointing” mistake.
Then-chief and executive producer of “60 Minutes,” Jeffrey Fager, later called the story “the worst mistake on my 10-year-old watch.”
Ms. Logan quietly left the network in 2018 after her contract expired. In a defamation lawsuit she filed in 2019 against New York magazine over a 2014 profile that she claimed had hurt her ability to find other work, she said CBS cut her salary to $750,000 in 2015 from $2,150. ,000 in 2014. (A federal judge dismissed the case. ) She moved from Washington to the Texas Hill Country with her husband and children, a move she told People magazine in 2016 allowed her to focus more on life. motherhood, especially to her son with a learning disability.
Ms. Logan’s expulsion from the mainstream media has barely limited her access to the center of gravity in the Republican Party.
This month she made a trip to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump in Florida, before a screening of a new film by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza. Other guests included General Flynn, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, and Kyle Rittenhouse, the man acquitted of the murder of two people during a political demonstration that turned violent in 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. . on the property, Mr. Rittenhouse stopped to take a picture with Mrs. Logan.