Journalist censured over response to Lara Logan’s assault
Emily Badger: Nir Rosen censured over response to Lara Logan’s assault
18 Feb 11

by Emily Badger

When CBS News announced earlier this week that chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan had been hospitalised for a brutal sexual assault in Egypt’s Tahrir Square last Friday, journalists across the nightly news and blogosphere were appalled. Some also expressed the faint hope the news might help remove the stigma female journalists face in acknowledging such encounters. An even bigger shock, though, came the next day, as left-leaning journalist Nir Rosen tweeted the reaction that he quickly came to regret.

“lara logan had to outdo anderson. where was her buddy mccrystal?” Rosen tweeted, referring to CNN broadcaster Anderson Cooper’s report that he’d been punched in the face in Cairo two weeks ago. Logan had earlier criticised a controversial Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal, who was later relieved by President Obama for his own intemperate remarks.

Then, Rosen added:

“jesus christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger.”

He later took down the tweets – but not before some conservative news sites snapped screen shots of them for posterity. “I thought, it’s just silly social media,” a chastened Rosen told media blog FishbowlDC, by which time it already was too late. New York University announced that Rosen would resign as a fellow with the Center on Law and Security.

“Nir Rosen is always provocative, but he crossed the line yesterday with his comments about Lara Logan,” the programme’s executive director, Karen J. Greenberg, said in a statement. “I am deeply distressed by what he wrote about Ms. Logan and strongly denounce his comments. They were cruel and insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mr Rosen tells me that he misunderstood the severity of the attack on her in Cairo. He has apologised, withdrawn his remarks, and submitted his resignation as a fellow, which I have accepted. However, this in no way compensates for the harm his comments have inflicted. We are all horrified by what happened to Ms Logan, and our thoughts are with her during this difficult time.”

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg called Rosen’s history of incendiary comments “deeply pathetic.” Salon scolded: “Apparently he still hasn’t remembered that sexual assault isn’t great joking around material.” Mother Jones, to which Rosen has contributed, said he “completely lost his mind today and forgot that “joking” about rape falls into the category of NOT EVER FUNNY.” Cooper, for his part, confronted Rosen personally on his show on Wednesday night.

Rosen has now attempted to explain his position in an article for Salon. He described what he wrote as “a disgusting comment born from dark humour…developed working in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Lebanon—and a need to provoke people.” He also pointed out the apparent double standards which allow “racist right-wing pundits (to) say whatever they want on serious platforms.”