Whatever is eating Lara Logan these days—or maybe consuming is a better word—it all traces back to a time when she was still widely known as a bold and beautiful 60 Minutes war correspondent who had the respect of her peers, solid relationships with U.S. military officials, and a future as big as the Ritz. Or so some intimates will tell you.
Consider the evening several years ago, long before she had a reputation for spouting perplexing political views, when Logan, a veteran of many hair-raising Middle East and Afghanistan assignments, was dining outdoors with friends at a restaurant in Paris near Notre Dame. Everything was fine, her fellow reporter Laura Haim remembers, until a gaggle of young folk cavorted by on the sidewalk, playing with laser pointers like you’d find in any office-supply store.
The others in her party barely noticed, but when a red dot skittered briefly across Logan’s clothing, she “suddenly went crazy and started screaming,” Haim said. “‘We’re all going to die! We’re all going to die!’ When I urged her to calm down and said, ‘Lara, look at me. We are having dinner in Paris,’ she said, ‘No, no, you don’t understand—this is Isis! This is how they work! We’re going to die!’” It took about five minutes to get Logan settled, and the meal continued, but another person at their table that night, who happened to be a doctor, later told Haim, “This woman is fucked up from PTSD.”
Logan has been through a lot in her 51 years, and clearly something now seems majorly amiss. In the interval since that alfresco freakout, she has lost her job with CBS and been quickly in and out of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Meanwhile, as her résumé has gone south, her political opinions have veered sharply rightward. “Does anyone know who employed Darwin, where Darwinism comes from?” she asked recently on a conspiracy-minded streaming show called And We Know. “Look it up—the Rothschilds.” And, this Sunday, she is scheduled to join anti-vax comedian Jimmy Dore at an anti-mandate rally in downtown Los Angeles.
Her views are too extreme, it seems, even for Fox News, which for a while ran a humorously titled but otherwise earnest show called Lara Logan Has No Agenda on its streaming service. The network that shrugs off Tucker Carlson’s white-supremacist jargon ghosted her starting late last November after she said on air that people were telling her that Anthony Fauci reminded them of Josef Mengele, the sadistic Nazi “Doctor of Death.” Before she could sputter an apology, her streaming show dried up and her agent fired her.
“Lara Logan will never work again,” one 60 Minutes correspondent flatly told me—and that person means not even on a My Pillow infomercial.
The prediction may well come to pass. Her only media appearances since her Mengele moment have been on QAnon-ish Webcasts, where she spins interlocking conspiracy theories about things like pedophiles and a Bill Gates initiative to promote fake meat—while on at least one occasion sipping what looked like red wine. The closest thing Logan has to a steady job these days is a slot on Locals, a conservative Substack, where for $50 a year you can read her posts about Ivermectin and Dominion voting machines recycled from GETTR and Truth Social.
‘No, no, you don’t understand—this is Isis! This is how they work! We’re going to die!’”
So far there are few takers, though perhaps a boost by the Kremlin will help. Pleased by her late-March musings about Nazi occultism in Ukraine, as well as her comment about “not buying the idea” that Russia was causing a humanitarian crisis there, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador and some fellow Putin appointees have been quoting her by name across many platforms. This week, Logan told conservative talk-radio host Eric Metaxas that Fox pushed her out because, “they don’t want independent thinkers. They don’t want people who follow the facts regardless of the politics.”
Logan’s former colleagues were at least initially divided on whether we’re seeing a radical shift or a belated blossoming. It is easy to dismiss her as a kook or a sellout, but given the trials she’s been through—not just the inevitable close calls on bombed-out streets but also a brutal sexual assault and a high-profile journalistic faux pas—there’s a very real possibility that the doctor who had dinner with her in Paris was right, and that she’s still suffering from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Logan was from her earliest days at CBS staunchly pro-military, but she was also, some 60 Minutes veterans will tell you, pro-choice, anti-racist, and anti-gun. “Kind of a down-the-center Democrat,” one says, though her tendency to talk politics was never terribly strong. One thing the old gang can agree on is that (to use a phrase that kept cropping up) “Lara was always a handful,” a whip-smart blond tornado who needed more managing than most of her peers.
During college in her native South Africa, according to New York magazine, Logan was a part-time newspaper reporter while “also earning money as a swimsuit model.” She got her formative journalistic training in Durban writing for the Sunday Tribune and Daily News. After several years of TV experience in Britain and on CNN, she arrived at 60 Minutes in 2002. She always got along fine with the camera and sound folks, who admired her work-hard-play-hard style, but she clung tightly to the freedom that comes with being a lone-wolf reporter who makes her own schedule and prefers to wander about without a large, cumbersome crew.
Thus in war zones she might stroll into a nine a.m. story meeting at four in the afternoon. Not that she had been enjoying the spa services at the Kabul Hilton; more than likely she would have been chasing down new stories. And while some had problems with her glamorous style, others say she used her appearance skillfully to cultivate sources and get the best interviews. “It was almost a feminist thing with her,” a former producer told me. “It was ‘I’m beautiful. I’m not going to play that down—deal with it.’” Her reporting skill was undeniable (cut to the Emmy and Edward R. Murrow awards on her mantle in Fredericksburg, Texas), and in the eyes of some, her looks were, well, kinda fun. “She’s got tits and balls,” 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley once said.
Logan’s courage, however, was both her strength and her undoing. She was willing to take chances, whether necessary or not. After she survived a land-mine explosion, on the Afghan border in 2003, she contrived to go on patrol with the Taliban to get their side of the story. During the invasion of Iraq that same year, Laura Haim says, “Lara and I were on the roof of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad when it suddenly became a very dangerous place. She was working with a camera in one hand and a satellite phone in the other, and then this security guy appeared and told us to leave because a mob of pro-Saddam people were threatening to attack.”
Other reporters complied, but “Lara screamed, ‘Don’t you dare tell me what to do! I’m a journalist! I have to show the people what’s happening!’ The security guy was terrified, and we stayed on the roof until I had to drag her into a car.”
Even if you find ways to let off steam in the evenings, and the camera loves you as much as it loves Logan, war reporting is hell. “The violence, the heat, the overall horribleness of the places I was in with her are almost indescribable,” one writer told me.
Compounding the stress, no doubt, was that for most of her tenure at CBS she was, like a lot of former print folks, not particularly adept at writing for TV. “She had this excess of raw brain power, and her first drafts bubbled over with too many ideas to fit on the screen in the allotted minutes,” one of her producers told me. Almost every script had to be wrestled to the ground by burly editors. The consensus among former co-workers is that if Jeff Fager, who was then the CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer, and CBS chief Les Moonves (both of whom were eventually swept out by the #MeToo movement) had not been her active champions, she would have never survived as long as she did.
Two terrible events indelibly marked her tenure at CBS. The first occurred during the Arab Spring of 2011, when Logan went to Egypt to cover what turned out to be the end of Hosni Mubarak’s rule. Cairo was being lit by alternating currents of joy and chaos, and after Anderson Cooper and his CNN crew got roughed up in Tahrir Square, Logan and all the other correspondents were told to stay indoors.
Good luck with that. A week later, she was reporting from Tahrir Square and got cut off from her cameraman by a roiling mob of about 300 men who “raped me with their hands” for 25 minutes before she was saved by Egyptian women and soldiers. She might well have been killed. “I felt hands grabbing my breasts,” she told Scott Pelley on the air several months later, “grabbing my crotch, grabbing me from behind.…They just literally tore my pants to shreds. And then I felt my underwear let go.” It was a shocking, terrifying event. “She told everyone she didn’t want the incident to define her,” a former colleague says. “But there’s no way you can dismiss the idea that it didn’t have a lasting effect.”
Shortly after the assault, Logan spoke openly about her own PTSD to the New York Daily News. “I want to be free of it, but I’m not,” she said. “It doesn’t go away. It’s not something I keep track of. It’s not predictable like that. But it happens more than I’d like.”
Disaster No. 2, her botched Benghazi segment of 2013, was the misstep her detractors had been waiting for. Logan believed that the Obama administration had underplayed the threat of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya in September of 2012, which left four people dead, seemed the perfect way to illustrate her point, if only she could find her way into the story.
After months of sniffing around, a book written by former military contractor Dylan Davis, who said he’d witnessed the attack and described how he’d scaled a wall and fought off a few terrorists Harrison Ford–style, practically fell into her lap. The Embassy House was being published by a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster, a corporate cousin of CBS, which made some people at 60 Minutes wonder if it passed the smell test. Why didn’t anyone else know about this swashbuckler’s derring-do?
“She’s got tits and balls,” 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley once said.
When it became known, shortly after the piece aired, that he had given the F.B.I. a very different account and that his book was pure fiction, Logan was suspended, and then put on a soft diet of mostly showbiz pieces until she was finally eased out in 2018.
Nor were these the only hard knocks that might have contributed to Logan’s altered mental state. She had breast cancer in 2012, which she says scared her worse than the attack in Cairo.
But can trauma make you Trumpy if you weren’t already halfway there? Logan did not respond to multiple interview requests. Some people say there’s a husband to blame. Her second husband, Joseph Burkett, a military contractor and former Texas Army National Guard member, has always been a far-right sort. The problem with that theory, though, is that Logan has never seemed very deeply in his thrall.
O.K., then, what about the theory that this is all a ruse, that she’s still the old Lara pretending to be a new one? In an op-ed for the Toronto Globe and Mail, excoriating Logan’s Mengele remark, her ex-producer Peter Klein, the son of Holocaust survivors, wrote, “These days she strikes me more like Sacha Baron Cohen playing the character Borat.” She could just be doing it, he suggested, to satisfy her “gullible audience.”
But if she’s putting on an act, why is it that in private Logan sounds no less paranoid, telling fellow journalists that they are being duped by, if not on the payroll of, the Deep State or the always handy Mr. Soros? And then there’s the issue of her seeming to treat every new day as an opportunity to make herself less employable.
Fox’s decision to “dump” her, she said last week on And We Know, was a blessing in disguise. “God has intervened in my life in very significant ways to spare me from being tainted. I was taken off the air at Fox just before they went into a whole marathon of war porn in Ukraine.” And now that she has largely weaned herself from Facebook and Twitter—because, according to the Daily Wire, she said those platforms encourage pedophilia and the sexual abuse of animals—she’s that much closer to being in a world of her own, a world comprising just her and her bare, ruined choir of enablers.
“I’ve gone from ‘the darling of the right’ to the ‘alt-right’ because I’m pointing out that [Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials] are Nazis,” she said on And We Know. “They think that people like me are going to be quiet. That we’re afraid of being called ‘alt-right.’ I don’t care what you call me anymore. I know what I am.”
If Logan has accomplished anything positive in these last few months, it may be that she has pushed herself beyond criticism. As her line of gab became more unhinged and anti-Semitic, a 60 Minutes correspondent I’d interviewed got back in touch to express regrets about our previous conversation and to raise the possibility of an intervention. “I was mean and I shouldn’t have been,” the correspondent said. “This is not the person I knew. It’s not fair to knock her anymore. This is just sad.”
Charles Leerhsen’s new book, Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain, comes out later this year from Simon & Schuster