Logan protested these reports as sexist. But she was also open-eyed about the uses of sex in her profession—it was a tactic, and not to use it would be stupid. “Men play on the military thing, they play on the macho thing, they play on the brotherhood thing,” she told a reporter. “No one accuses them of using gender to their advantage. The fact is that sometimes being a woman can open doors for you, but more often than not it makes things more difficult.”
In truth, Logan understood the value of the publicity and regularly gave exclusives to the Mirror, including one that read, “Here’s a sight that would stop the Taliban in its tracks. War reporter Lara Logan relaxes on a deck chair in a sizzling swimsuit.”
She told a friend that she once tipped off a photographer about her lingerie on a laundry line so he could take a picture.
This would be a theme in Logan’s career, how her beauty cut several ways. Men who did what Logan did in the war zone were hailed for bravery and virtuous machismo, while Logan was critiqued for the same thing. She deployed her beauty to charm and persuade colleagues and sources to great effect—but the effectiveness didn’t prevent co-workers and competitors from calling her a lightweight.
The trip to Kabul quickly paid dividends. Logan started reporting for CBS as a radio stringer. In November 2001, when the Taliban’s grip on the capital was loosened, there were no CBS reporters on hand except Lara Logan. She found a satellite and made a segment for the evening news. Producers in New York had never laid eyes on Logan, but when she appeared onscreen she instantly caught the attention of the executive producer of the CBS Evening News, Jim Murphy, who phoned CBS News president Andrew Heyward to alert him.
Initially, Heyward didn’t act on the tip—and was soon in the position of having to bid for her contract against every other network that noticed what Murphy noticed: a captivating beauty with a smoldering presence in the war zone. Logan was picked up by a powerful agent, Carole Cooper, and soon had a full-time contract at CBS for a reported $1 million, which included work at the Wednesday spinoff of 60 Minutes.
As Ed Bradley, the late 60 Minutes correspondent and a strong advocate of Logan’s, memorably if crudely observed, “She’s got tits and balls.”
But Logan was still a raw talent, inexperienced at storytelling and considered difficult by some producers. Her almost insatiable stomach for risk made many of her colleagues uncomfortable. One of her security detail was shot during a trip to Pakistan to see an Al Qaeda training camp. And Logan often flouted traditional Islamic dress codes: At an Afghan election rally for Hamid Karzai, Logan wore blue jeans and a white T-shirt in the makeshift press cordon, which was surrounded by mobs of men. Her crew became nervous, afraid she was attracting undue attention from the aggressive and all-male crowd. Logan herself seemed oblivious. When Karzai finished his speech and left, most of the security decamped and left Logan and her crew exposed to the crowd’s jeers. According to two people familiar with the incident, Logan’s crew had to surround her and “battle” their way to safety.
Other such incidents followed. After a time, cameramen in the London bureau of CBS News refused to work with her. “The crews in London revolted,” says a CBS executive. “They thought she was dangerous and she was going to get somebody killed.”
Logan had to combat considerable skepticism—and sexism—among veteran news people at CBS. Don Hewitt, the founder of 60 Minutes, had told a story of a time when Logan came to him for advice. He recounted that he told her she was not up to 60 Minutes’ standards and needed voice training to get rid of her accent. When she replied that she had been getting training for two years, he said simply, “Then there’s no hope.”
Hewitt refused to put her on the flagship program. Fager, Hewitt’s chosen successor, thought she needed work. And the executive producer of 60 Minutes II, Josh Howard, only gave her lightweight stories on the spinoff program. Says a former female CBS colleague: “She was a great-looking woman, which means you have to prove yourself doubly and triply.”
But even the skeptics had to admit she had an exceptional work ethic. “On any day, when the normal person put in 12 hours, Logan put in 20,” says a former CBS colleague. “She was passionate and indefatigable. She went after the story and had more heart for the story than many people in the organization.”