Kurtz: “In-Bedded” Reporter (Now With Child)!

Last week, I complained about Howard Kurtz’s handling of all the recent Lara Logan-related news. Basically, Kurtz reprinted five juicy paragraphs of the New York Post’s story for Washington Post readers before adding, helpfully, that it was “not much of story.”

This week, Kurtz does his part again to keep that “not much of a story” in the news by profiling Logan (it’s really a profile of “Foreign Affairs Correspondent Lara Logan’s Public Private Life”, as the article’s subhed confesses), which, of course, requires Kurtz to again rehash the New York Post unpleasantness from last week. Now, it’s possible that Kurtz approached this piece as, as the tabloids might say, Logan’s Chance To Tell Her Side, a make-up of sorts for his own passing along of The Logan Scandal last week. That’s not, in the main, how the piece reads. To wit:

Now, having just moved to Washington with an expanded portfolio for the [CBS] network, Logan finds her romantic life reduced to tabloid fodder. And there is a new complication: She recently discovered that she is pregnant.

Reduced to tabloid fodder, you say? (Exclusive: Logan’s preggers!)

Logan tells Kurtz: “‘Nobody likes to read about themselves like that, especially the way it’s been sensationalized,’ Logan says of the coverage that spread to the front page of the New York Post,” and from there, let’s not forget, onto the pages of the Washington Post. “‘I hated it,’ Logan adds. ‘But I’m just going to rise above it and keep going…looking forward to being a mom.’”

Not so fast with that “looking forward” business —Kurtz has a few more details on that “decidedly messy” divorce to share with readers.

A highlight, to my mind, is the sentence that starts: “Much of the media interest is fueled by the South African native’s…” hotness? No, her “…rapid rise to stardom, which has brought her both celebrity status and a string of journalistic prizes, including an Emmy Award, Overseas Press Club Award and, last week, an Edward R. Murrow Award.” So we in the media are interested mostly in Logan’s “rapid rise to stardom,” that which “brought her” those journalism awards. (Weren’t those for her reporting? I’m confused.)

More Kurtz: “While some may accuse her of tawdry conduct, what happened to Logan is an all-too-familiar tale of someone consumed by a career and needing a partner who understands the peculiar pressures involved.”

If Logan’s “tale” is not one of “tawdry conduct” (like “some” say), but rather one that’s “all-too-familiar,” why is Kurtz writing about it (yet again this week)?

This “not much of a story” is about — at least, in part — two journalists (Logan and CNN’s Michael Ware) who have done exhaustive, important reporting from Iraq. But their stories aren’t the story — they hooked up! And the lead was never Ware’s hot Baghdad nights. (Really, who’d care?)

It’s like the existence of a Lara Logan-looking, award-winning war correspondent creates such cognitive dissonance for some of us in the media that it messes with our news judgment.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.