How Lara Logan alienated colleagues with her risk taking and got security firm in Iraq

How Lara Logan alienated colleagues with her risk taking and got security firm in Iraq fired after her ex walked in on her with another man

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  • New York magazine shed light on South African journalist’s spectacular rise to top spot as chief foreign correspondent on CBS evening news and 60 Minutes
  • It also reports that her equally stellar fall from grace thanks to a fabricated Benghazi story means question marks remain about her return
  • Logan moved to Kabul, Afganistan following the 9/11 attacks, knowing immediately that the fallout in the Middle East was the story of her career
  • She soon had negotiated a $1m full-time contract at CBS
  • Brazen attitude rubbed some people up the wrong way and left others fearing for their lives

By Helen Pow

Embattled CBS News war reporter Lara Logan alienated her colleagues with her insatiable appetite for risk, and got her security firm in Iraq fired after her ex walked in on her with another man.

In a fascinating expose, New York Magazine has shed light on the South African journalist’s spectacular rise to the top spot of chief foreign correspondent at the CBS evening news and 60 Minutes and how her equally stellar fall from grace thanks to a Benghazi report that turned out to be fabricated means question marks remain about her return.

Logan cut her teeth in London before convincing her employer – morning show GMTV – to send her to Kabul, Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attacks, knowing immediately that the fallout in the Middle East was the story of her career. 

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Future remains in question: Journalist Lara Logan of CBS News, pictured in Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq November 17, 2006, has still not returned to 60 Minutes since she broadcast a story on the Benghazi attack that turned out to be fabricated

Future remains in question: Journalist Lara Logan of CBS News, pictured in Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq November 17, 2006, has still not returned to 60 Minutes since she broadcast a story on the Benghazi attack that turned out to be fabricated

In November 2001, the bold move paid off. With no reporters on the ground, CBS enlisted Logan to cover the fall of Kabul for the evening news. She found a satellite and dispatched a report.

The coverage was immediately noticed, not just at the top of CBS News but competing networks. She soon had negotiated, with the help of an agent, a $1million full-time contract at CBS including work on a 60 Minutes spin-off.

‘She’s got t*ts and balls,’ is how the late 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley summed up Logan’s appeal, according to New York.

But her brazen attitude rubbed some people up the wrong way.

New York revealed that some producers considered her difficult and many colleagues found her ‘almost insatiable stomach for risk’ hard to deal with.

Sources told the magazine that one of her security detail was shot during a trip to Pakistan to see an al Qaeda training camp and, after a time, cameramen in the London bureau of CBS News ‘revolted’ against her, fearing for their safety.

‘They thought she was dangerous and she was going to get somebody killed,’ a CBS executive told New York.

She also flouted traditional Islamic dress codes, which inevitably put herself and her entourage in precarious positions.

However, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves loved her and she knew it.

‘[Logan] was very fond of saying, “I could end your career with a phone call,”‘ a former CBS producer told New York of the reporter.

The in-depth article also reveals how Logan had CBS’s security team fired after her ex caught her in a compromising position with another man – now her husband Joe Burkett.

In a fascinating expose, New York Magazine has shed light on the bombshell South African journalist's spectacular rise to the top spot of chief foreign correspondent at the CBS evening news and 60 Minutes and her equally stellar fall from grace thanks to the October 27, 2013, Benghazi report, pictured

In a fascinating expose, New York Magazine has shed light on the bombshell South African journalist’s spectacular rise to the top spot of chief foreign correspondent at the CBS evening news and 60 Minutes and her equally stellar fall from grace thanks to the October 27, 2013, Benghazi report, pictured

Big scoop: Finally, after months with no leads, 60 Minutes producer Max McClellan was offered an exclusive: the first look at a book by a man claiming to have witnessed the attack, pictured

Big scoop: Finally, after months with no leads, 60 Minutes producer Max McClellan was offered an exclusive: the first look at a book by a man claiming to have witnessed the attack, pictured

Logan was protected by a team of former British special forces soldiers employed by Pilgrims Group who guarded the CBS bureau in Baghdad and transported her to the various dangerous locations she needed to be for stories.

But her patience with the company was wearing thin, New York reported.

By late 2007, Logan has been seeing renowned Australian correspondent Michael Ware, who worked for Time and CNN, for some time but had Burkett in the wings.

Burkett was a government contractor in Baghdad whose company did public relations for the military, trying to get positive war stories into print.

He began paying regular visits to the CBS compound and on one such amorous visit, Ware sprung the pair after security let him up to her quarters on the second floor. According to New York, Ware and Logan began to argue.

With tensions high, Logan blamed Pilgrims for letting Ware up when they knew she was with Burkett, and she pulled the contract, giving it instead to their rival company Blue Hackle. This showed her clout at the network.

‘A lot of people were p*ssed,’ a former CBS News employee told New York, adding that the Pilgrims security team had befriended many.

But CBS News boss, Jeff Fager, wasn’t fazed. In fact, he seemed somewhat proud when news broke of Logan’s Baghdad affairs, hanging a framed copy of a New York Post story headlined ‘Sexty Minutes’ in his office.

Not long after, Logan returned to Washington, D.C. with Burkett, and they had their first child.

However, she’d been promoted to chief foreign correspondent so was always jetting to war zones for stories.

She was on the front line at the uprisings in Egypt during the Arab Spring, still her brazen self despite having a family back home.

‘She was told 15 different ways: “Do not leave the hotel after curfew,” and she did,’ a source told New York.

Lovers: Lara Logan and her husband Joseph Burkett are pictured at the 2013 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner left while reporter Michael Ware is seen rightLovers: Lara Logan and her husband Joseph Burkett are pictured at the 2013 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner left while reporter Michael Ware is seen right

Lovers: Lara Logan and her husband Joseph Burkett are pictured at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner (left) while reporter Michael Ware is seen right

Early career: Lara Logan is pictured here as a reporter for British GMTA in 2002. From there she moved to Kabul where she was noticed by CBS

Early career: Lara Logan is pictured here as a reporter for British GMTA in 2002. From there she moved to Kabul where she was noticed by CBS

On February 3, Logan was detained by Egyptian security forces and her local driver was badly beaten.

She flew out the next day, but within a week she was back, unable to keep away from the brewing chaos in Cairo. However, this time things got even more ugly.

In Tahrir Square, Logan said that she and her crew began getting verbal threats from the increasingly violent crowd. Logan described being separated from her security team and then a mob of men ripped off her clothes and assaulted her.

When she returned to the U.S. she had immense support from her colleagues, however she struggled to return to the field, New York reported.

She was handed soft stories and quickly grew restless. President Obama winding down American military involvement in the Middle East also made for fewer war stories in general.

But then came the attack on the Benghazi, Libya, consulate in 2012.

This offered a return to form, and, according to the magazine, Logan pounced on the opportunity.

She was determined to get the scoop on what happened, and no other 60 Minutes correspondent was allowed to pursue stories on Benghazi.

‘This was her story, and nobody could do anything on it,’ a 60 Minutes staffer told New York.

Finally, after months with no leads, 60 Minutes producer Max McClellan was offered an exclusive: the first look at a book by a man claiming to have witnessed the attack.

Assault: In this February 11, 2011 photo released by CBS, 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan is shown covering the reaction in in Cairo's Tahrir Square the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. CBS News says Logan was attacked, and suffered a brutal beating and sexual assault before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers

On leave: Logan and producer Max McClellan were both put on an indefinite leave of absence last year, as CBS scrambled to salvage the long-running 60 Minutes reputation

On leave: Logan and producer Max McClellan were both put on an indefinite leave of absence last year, as CBS scrambled to salvage the long-running 60 Minutes reputation

The Embassy House, was written under the pseudonym Morgan Jones, by former military contractor named Dylan Davies, and was published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Davies claimed he saw it all and that he even witnessed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s dead body lying in a hospital bed.

For a number of reasons, including the fact the book was being published by CBS’s sister company, the program skipped its usual fact-checking procedures.

According to New York, Logan nor anyone else called the State Department or the FBI to check Davies’ claims before they went to air and the senior vice-president of standards and practices, Linda Mason, who would have scrutinised the authenticity of the report, left in early 2013 and hadn’t been replaced.

After much hype, the show was broadcast October 27, and former State Department officials under Hillary Clinton were immediately suspicious of Davies’s account.

‘I think he’s lying his head off about where he was and what he did,’ a former official wrote in an email to a colleague while watching.

‘I mean, 14 months later we’re hearing about this guy for the first time?’

Soon after, the Washington Post revealed Davies had told his own firm, Blue Mountain, a contrary story. From there, it escalated.

Simon & Schuster pulled the book from the shelves early November.

After defending the report, finally the evidence was overwhelming and Logan was forced to admit ‘we were wrong’ on CBS This Morning.

Logan and McClellan were both put on an indefinite leave of absence, as CBS scrambled to salvage the long-running program’s reputation.

Fager reportedly refused to fire Logan and said at the time that she would return to the programme sometime this year.

But New York reports that the atmosphere is toxic within the network at the moment, and, as the months roll by, the date of Logan’s return remains uncertain.

CBS News declined to comment to MailOnline.

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