Kurtz: Why Lara Logan Couldn't Stay Away from the Story

Ten Female Journalists in Harm's Way CBS News-AP

Lara Logan kept going back to war, even after coming under enemy fire, even after an antitank missile struck her Humvee in Iraq and the soldier next to her lost his leg.

Having children, however, changed her. When the South African native became a mother, for the first time her bosses sensed hesitation. “There’s an adrenaline rush in being in war zones, and there’s no doubt Lara thrived on it,” CBS News chairman Jeff Fager tells NEWSWEEK. But after giving birth, he says, “she was starting to get a little squeamish about it.” When she returned to Afghanistan after her first baby was born, Logan told me: “I think about that child growing up without a mother, and that’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Logan’s closest brush with death, though, came not on the battlefields of Afghanistan or Iraq but in the heart of revolutionary Cairo. “The streets were joyous and it didn’t seem likely there was danger that night,” says Carole Cooper, Logan’s agent, who tried to talk her out of making the trip. “She had security with her.”

It didn’t matter. Swept up by a frenzied mob in Tahrir Square, she was separated from her crew, severely beaten, and sexually assaulted. A group of Egyptian women saved her from the attackers, and soldiers pulled her to safety.

Just a week earlier in Alexandria, Egyptian soldiers had arrested, handcuffed, and blindfolded the 39-year-old reporter and her crew. Logan, violently ill, returned to Washington, but soon flew back to Cairo for 60 Minutes. “Lara is utterly fearless,” says veteran journalist Bob Schieffer. “She just has guts and courage under fire.” CBS and Logan decided to make the sexual assault public last week after learning that an Australian journalist was onto the story.

Logan began her career with a South African newspaper. She was just a lowly CBS radio stringer in 2001 when she wrangled a visa and rode into Kabul with the rebels who toppled the Taliban. That’s when Fager hired the cocky correspondent, who boasted that she wanted to be as “legendary” as Mike Wallace.

Critics say Logan is too protective of the Pentagon, but she has also accused the military of lying about progress in Afghanistan. A CBS staffer says he knew she was on her way to recovery “when she started to sound belligerent again.”