If you were to ask me who my heroes were, almost all the answers would be journalists. Edward R. Murrow, Amy Goodman and the fictional Hildy Johnson (as portrayed by the crackerjack Rosalind Russell in Howard Hawks' seminal His Girl Friday) all inspire supreme admiration from me. Even though I believe that the media did not handle reporting of the Iraq War the way it should have--with a more sensitive bullshit detector, that is--I know how the endless red tape, government tampering, censorship and occasional danger can damper the best intentions I believe true journalists have.
However, I also believe that like Isaac Newton, for every action there is an equal and negative reaction. If you believe in God, you gotta believe in Satan too, and for every Murrow there is some writer without tact, class or even a basic understanding of research. One of these such creatures is Simone Wilson, a writer for LA WEEKLY, whose piece on Lara Logan's physical and sexual assault in Egypt reeked of sexism and a vile attempt at making the assault seem to be Logan's fault. Even her heading is completely absent of any attempt to sensitively portray Logan's assault, in favor of using this tragic event for sensationalism, reading "Lara Logan, CBS Reporter and Warzone 'It Girl,' Raped Repeatedly Amid Egypt Celebration."
There are several glaring problems with just this headline, the least of which is how shocking and nonchalantly it uses the 4-letter R word, my least favorite word in the world. I find it startling how it attempts to make Lara Logan out to be a celebrity with the moniker "Warzone It Girl" like she was another of Hollywood's party girls out for no good (unfortunately, this is not the last of Wilson's accusation). Secondly, sensitivity issues aside, it is completely off to state Logan was raped, because it's just coming out that rape may not have been part of the sexual assault, despite how the euphemism frequently covers that awful crime. Wilson's headline alone shows shallow reporting and sensationalism for the sole purpose of grabbing attention on the basis that bad news sells. And looking into her other headlines, Logan wasn't the only victim of Wilson's feeble attempt at sensitivity--"City of Bell E-Mail Fun: Officials Called Themselves Fat Pigs, LOLed," "One 'Gate' Too Many: L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar Devoured Alive by Opponent Rudy Martinez, LA Times, Gleeful Citywatchers" and "L.A. Homeless Count Gets Off to Morbid Start: Dead Guy Found Outside Criminal Court" also grace her author page. There's also a very strange fascination with subject's physical appearances, including "South Gate Man With Dragon Tattoo Kills 10-Month-Old Baby Daughter" and "LAPD Officers Kill Man Wearing Only Boxers In Playa Vista," as though there should be a warning against people wearing only boxers and exposing their dragon tattoos (Lisbeth Salander, cover yourself up lay and off the Marky Marks if you ever visit LA).
As if Wilson's headline wasn't, er, truthful enough, her background description of Logan as "known for her shocking good looks and ballsy knack for pushing her way to the heart of the action, was brutally and repeatedly raped while a crowd of 200 celebrated..." Like Wilson's strange headlines earlier sampled, there is no earthly reason why someone's physical appearance should make any difference in the overall story or have any effect on Logan's reporting. The fact that these two tidbits, which Wilson apparently sees as important samplings of Logan's personality, come just before the first mention of Logan's assault, with extreme wording and inappropriately in bold font no less, only leads me to think Wilson believed Logan deserved her assault from her envelope-pushing reporting and good looks combined.
The single photo of Lara Logan supplied in the piece is also troubling and only adds to the strange, almost perverse fascination Wilson has with Logan's good looks. While most other news sites have used pretty de-glamoured pictures of Logan, including some of her in the heart of combat or profiled from the neck-up, Wilson apparently believed the only accurate portrayal of Logan was one in a low-cut dress (taken from the Gracie Allen Awards). Is this the kind of anti-feminist thinking that any woman would want to have thought of her? Wear a low-cut dress and you're asking to be sexually assaulted? That you deserve to be? Ms. Wilson, you don't do that for the same reason you don't have a headline reading, "21-Year-Old Wyoming Student Found Brutally Tortured, Killed" and feature only a picture of Matthew Shephard kissing a gay lover--because you never, ever want to think anyone with, for lack of a better phrase, a socially different outlook having a horrible hate crime done to them deserved it at all or they had it coming to them based solely on how society judges them. This kind of thinking can only reveal a hideously old-fashioned, out-of-touch personality. People are people and any hate crime, from sexual, physical and emotional abuse to murder should not be tolerated or thought to be deserved, and adding embellishments leading one to think otherwise is completely tasteless.
Wilson's "reporting" on how Logan was attacked is about as heinous as the crime itself:
Logan was in Tahrir Square with her "60 Minutes" news team when Mubarak's announcement broke. Then, in a rush of frenzied excitement, some Egyptian protesters apparently consummated their newfound independence by sexually assaulting the blonde reporter.
Did Wilson think she was writing a Jack London novella when she chose her words? If I am ever sexually assaulted, I pray to a God I don't believe in that nobody uses the phrase "a rush of frenzied excitement" to describe how my attackers went after me as though a man forcing himself on a woman should be given the same titillating description of a Michael Bay movie. Then there's the question of the word "apparently," which is thrown around callously to describe the Egyptian protester's reasoning for assaulting Logan. Nobody even knows if it was exactly the protesters who attacked Logan, erroneously referred to as "blonde reporter" this time by Wilson (Two questions: First, is Ms. Wilson at all related to the Janitor from Scrubs, and two, should we include "blonde" in the pantheon of Physical Traits To Get You [Justifiably] Attacked According to Simone Wilson?), and despite the gravity of this crime and my hope that Logan's attackers be brought to justice, it's far too early and there are too few details to instigate this name-calling.
Thirty-nine-year-old Logan has long attacked Hollywood-lite reporters for their dumbing down of overseas violence -- at the same time using her Hollywood good looks and spotlight to push a more hard-hitting agenda.
And what about a blogger who exploits other people's tragedies (and erroneously underlines her subject's ages) in order to get more hits for her pieces? Logan's desire to "push a more hard-hitting agenda" stems from not seeing war covered the way it should be and having government interference censoring her--which, frankly, is just a woman wanting to do her job. Of course Ms. Wilson wouldn't know that, not being a real reporter and all...
But Wilson's most unforgiving mention comes in the form of bringing up Logan's personal relationships, of all places shortly after quoting MoFo Politics with this morsel of poetic wisdom: "OMG if I were her captors and there were no sanctions for doing so? I would totally rape her."
Although one could argue that Wilson's self-referential style is just a way of showing other medium's reactions, the syntax of her piece is as poorly placed as an American Airlines ad during a commercial break from the pilot episode of Lost. A person's romantic/sexual relations have absolutely no place in an article primarily concerning said woman's sexual attack, and certainly not after the quote from someone who believes rape to be acceptable as long as there are no sanctions. "Nobody's invincible" proclaims Wilson, yet numerous times in her pieces she demonstrates that while nobody is invincible, some are less invincible than others.
The backlash of Wilson's article, posted yesterday (February 15, 2011), was enough to warrant a follow-up comment and a feeble attempt at an apology, though even this is laden with more accusations than genuine remorse; mostly her additional comments make snide remarks to other pieces which attacked her own original article, including the good people at Salon.com, whose article about the pointedly sexist backlash against Logan's attack heavily quoted Wilson's original article, and rightly so. Wilson's counterattack was this: "Salon.com, apparently looking for its own hard-hitting approach to the day's biggest story, did choose to take that angle -- meanwhile reprinting about half our story on its own pages (enough said) -- but that was another blogger's choice."
That's the second time she's used the word "apparently" with such utter callousness, and this time it's just undeserved. While Salon.com might not be hard-hitting when it comes to the news, it certainly has more dignity and journalistic integrity in one article than Simone Wilson can ever hope to imagine in her entire life. It's also downright hypocritical for Wilson to criticize Salon.com's article for "reprinting half our story on its own pages;" While author Mary Elizabeth Williams certainly quoted Wilson's article for journalistic purposes, it certainly wasn't half the article. And you know what? Williams' quoting was fucking basic good criticism and journalism which anyone in an AP English class could grasp. Wilson might want to take a few notes from Williams' article, since her own leans heavily on excerpts from Esquire, The New York Post, and MoFo Politics--and of all those, only a brief mention from an LA Times blogger actually mentions Logan's brilliance in her career instead of her personal relations.
Lara Logan has a long emotional recovery ahead of her, and I sincerely doubt she would have wanted her own tragedy exploited for the agendas of victim's fault or anti-Egyptian sentiments. She deserves far, far more from her peers than to be derided as "blonde journalist," and deserves a sincere, goddamn apology from Simone Wilson, who still cannot stop ridiculing Logan's good looks, as evidenced here: "...hopefully well on her way back to fighting the good fight for truth, journalism and girls who happen to fall on the gorgeous side of the fight for truthful journalism."
Whatever issues Wilson may have with her self-esteem (was she teased by a blonde bully from Journalism class in high school?), it's no excuse for her callous words. Logan put her life on the line to go to Egypt so the world could get a story, and so hateful women like Simone Wilson could write sensationalized follow-ups to it behind the safety of her computer screen. She's a disgrace to the importance of the written word as well as womanhood and she is not, nor will she ever be a truthful journalist, and she should follow in Nin Rosen and Mubarek's footsteps and resign from her post; There is, apparently, no tact left in journalism.
You can read Wilson's original article as well as Salon.com's rebuttal below:
Simone Wilson: http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/02/lara_logan_raped_egypt_reporte.php