Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reporting versus Opinionating

Lara Logan of the CBS News show "60 Minutes" has been put on a leave of absence, because her story was based on a rather uncritical acceptance of Dylan Davies' story of having been there at the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, when she could have rather readily checked that Davies had told to the FBI quite the opposite.

It turns out Lara Logan has a strong point of view,  and Al Ortiz, the CBS News Executive Director of Standards and Practices found (via Digby)
In October of 2012, one month before starting work on the Benghazi story, Logan made a speech in which she took a strong public position arguing that the US Government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda, and urging actions that the US should take in response to the Benghazi attack. From a CBS News Standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story.
 Digby also notes that Lara Logan has rather strong opinions about the war in Afghanistan.  She thinks America was/is fighting the wrong fight. 
The best analogy I can give you, what you're doing to your U.S. troops on the ground, line up all hundred thousand or so of those troops, handcuff them behind their backs, give them a shove, send them straight into the Taliban guns. Because that's effectively what you're doing. The enemy is not in Afghanistan. The low hanging fruit, the expendable people, are in Afghanistan. The real enemy is across the border in Pakistan, and I'm not advocating for war in Pakistan. But there are a thousand things you could do to address that. As long as you are not going after the command and control and the true source of the enemy-- and by the way, we have the capacity and the information to do that and we have not because of our foreign policy towards Pakistan-- then you have no business being in the fight.
...The Quetta Shura runs the Afghan war from the city of Quetta inside Pakistan..... You take them out the same way you took out al-Loki and Nek Muhammad and all the others that have been killed that way.....And you do it, you target not just the Quetta Shura, you target the Miran Shah Shura, the Peshawar Shura, the Haqqani Network. 
You take 24 to 48 hours out of your day where you target all the people who you know where they are and you send a message to the Pakistanis that putting American bodies in Arlington Cemetery is not an acceptable form of foreign policy.
And there is this, Lara Logan points out to Gen. John Allen some unpleasant facts about Pakistan, and he says, she is telling the truth.

No one can be both a reporter and an advocate for a point of view. Lara Logan was exactly right about the problem that Pakistan posed. Gen. Allen and I - we agree. But she had a choice to report on the problem and on what policies the US was following to address the problem; or else, to have policy opinions and be a pundit, and not be a reporter.