“Responsibility for fake news begins with us.”
Former CBS News reporter Lara Logan said in an interview Friday that the mainstream media is “absurdly left-leaning.”
The veteran foreign correspondent, who covered the attack on Kabul and the riots in Tahrir Square, talked to retired Navy SEAL Mike Ritland on his Breitbart podcast. Speaking from her living room in Washington, DC, she said that major news networks were just the mirror image of his right-wing website.
Two hours into the wide-ranging conversation, Logan, 47, opened up on the press’ dirty little not-so-secret: American media is “absurdly left-leaning,” she said.
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“Visually, anyone who’s ever been to Israel and been to the Wailing Wall has seen that the women have this tiny little spot in front of the wall to pray, and the rest of the wall is for the men,” she said, drawing on a Middle East metaphor to describe the news media landscape. “To me, that’s a great representation of the American media, is that in this tiny little corner where the women pray you’ve got Breitbart and Fox News and a few others, and from there on, you have CBS, ABC, NBC, Huffington Post, Politico, whatever, right? All of them.”
“And that’s a problem for me,” she added. “Because even if it was reversed, if it was vastly mostly on the right, that would also be a problem for me. My experience has been that the more opinions you have, the more ways that you look at everything in life.”
Logan criticized the media’s lack of viewpoint diversity and self-criticism. “The problem is the weight of all these organizations on one side of the political spectrum. When you turn on your computer, or you walk past the TV, or you see a newspaper headline in the grocery store … If they’re all saying the same thing, the weight of that convinces you that it’s true. You don’t question it, because everyone is saying it. Unless you seek out Breitbart on your computer, you’re probably not even going to know what the other side is saying.”
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This ideological hegemony is not limited to the news, she said. “One ideological perspective on everything never leads to an open free diverse tolerant society. The more opinions and views … the better off we all are. So creating one ideological position on everything throughout your universities, throughout academia, in school and college, in media, and everywhere else, that’s what concerns me. I don’t have to agree with everybody,” she said.
Discussing coverage of Donald Trump’s presidency, Logan said that the media generally suffers from black-and-white reductivism, leading to “distortion” and even “fake news.” She specifically took issue with reporters’ increasingly heavy reliance on anonymous sources and unsourced leaks.
“That’s not journalism, that’s horse shit,” she said. “Responsibility for fake news begins with us. We bear some responsibility for that, and we’re not taking ownership of that and addressing it. We just want to blame it all on somebody else.”
She described the media’s lack of balance as “disaster for this country,” and added, no less pessimistically, that the trend is global.
“The media everywhere is mostly liberal, not just the US,” she said.
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Logan said that the bias has lately become more overt, if not stronger (“we’ve abandoned our pretense — or at least the effort — to be objective”). Conservatives watching last month’s media frenziez over “MAGA” hat-wearing teenagers or the fictional “MAGA” hat-wearing assailants of Jussie Smollett probably wouldn’t argue.
And of course, talking about media bias violates the first rule of media club.
“This interview is professional suicide for me,” Logan half-joked.
Logan recalled becoming the center of a media controversy herself, when she reported on the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on US government facilities in Benghazi, Libya.“I made one comment about Benghazi,” she recalled, somewhat underselling what had been in fact a false account of night of the attack that she had shared on “60 Minutes” at the time, and which, before being disproved, was adopted as a talking point against then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. When the truth came out, Logan became the target of liberal media backlash.
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“[Then] I was targeted by Media Matters for America, which was an organization established by David Brock, who has dedicated himself to the Clintons. It was their known propaganda organization,” she said.
Brock is indeed an open Clinton supporter, and one that makes even liberal outlets, like The Nation, uncomfortable.
On a different, personal note, Logan recalled her harrowing experience covering Cairo’s revolutionary moment in 2011, when she had been sexually assaulted by the mob.
“Piece by piece, they tore all my clothing off, and just tore my body almost to pieces, and tore my insides apart. I saw people taking pictures,” she recalled. “I remember fighting, being raped, and being able to sometimes push people away, and then I remember just realizing that there were too many of them — and it was over and over and over again — and that there was always someone else when you could fight one person.”
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