Programming

TCA: McManus, Couric Stand Behind Logan

CBS News president Sean McManus, CBS Evening News anchor, managing editor Katie Couric back embattled foreign correspondent Lara Logan. 7/18/2008 08:14:00 AM Eastern

Beverly Hills -- CBS News weathered considerable media scrutiny for the outspoken nature and, more recently, personal life of foreign correspondent Lara Logan. But Sean McManus, president of CBS News, defended Logan, saying that she would ultimately be judged by her reporting in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lara Logan

"In 15 years, I think Lara Logan is going to be judged on the quality of her work not her personal life," he said.

During a recent appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Logan complained about the dearth of airtime U.S. television-news organizations devote to Iraq, saying that if she had to watch American television, she "would blow her brains out."

She went on to accuse CBS News editors of eviscerating the pieces she files from the field and joked that she aims an "armor-piercing RPG [rocket-propelled grenade launcher] … at the bureau chief and if you don't put my story on the air, I'm going to pull the trigger."

"I think if you ask Lara again about the quality of her coverage and the amount of her coverage particularly from Iraq," McManus said, "I don't think you would find as much criticism [from her]. I also don’t remember any stories that she did that were necessarily longer that were compromised because they were cut down. Every correspondent I know is always frustrated because they never get on the air long enough. We have an executive producer and a managing editor who understand that stories need to be two-and-a-half minutes or they won't be on the air. Lara's pushing as hard as she can, and I’m glad that she is."

Katie Couric, anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News, added that Logan's frustrations were understandable in light of the treacherous environment in which she works.

"The conditions [in Iraq] are brutal," added Couric, who spent several days in the region last summer. "It's incredibly difficult to cover stories and cover them well. When your stories do not get on your air, I think the frustration is commiserate with the conditions under which you're working."

More recently, Logan's personal life has been the topic of breathless tabloid headlines. The South African-born correspondent, who did a short stint during her college years as a swimsuit model, broke off an affair with CNN correspondent Michael Ware last year and subsequently began dating a federal contractor stationed in Iraq.

Joseph Burkett, who was separated from his wife at the time he began dating Logan, has been embroiled in a messy divorce, with his estranged wife saying Logan destroyed her marriage. And now Logan is pregnant. She and Burkett plan to marry eventually.

Three weeks ago, Logan took on a new stateside position with the network. She'll continue to do some foreign reporting, but the new assignment gives her a home base in Washington, D.C., where she'll cover foreign affairs and international security issues.

"It's a fact of life that when you have a public job, your personal life is covered," McManus said. "It was uncomfortable at the time. I think it's behind us now."

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