September 6th, 2009
01:30 PM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: The media's role in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) - At least two U.S. troops died in combat in Afghanistan this weekend, but the war was mostly below the radar of the talk show circuit this weekend, the focus being instead on Obama's upcoming speeches: Tuesday to American schoolchildren on education and Wednesday to Congress about health care.

Howard Kurtz bucked that trend on Reliable Sources with an interview with CBS News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Lara Logan, taped just before she left for the region. CNN's Anderson Cooper will also report from Afghanistan beginning Monday.

Logan said that since the beginning of the war after the terrorist strikes of September 11th 2001 both journalists and the public have been misled about the real situation in Afghanistan

"Why were we lied to for all these years? Because it was getting worse every year. From the day of the invasion, we started making mistakes," Logan said.

Kurtz asked Logan why the "lies" weren't reported on in the U.S. media.

"I know a lot of journalists who tried," Logan told Kurtz. "I mean it's very hard to prove a lie. When the commanders are telling you we have enough troops, you know they don't have enough troops, but no one will tell you that on camera, on the record, how do you prove that that's a lie? When commanders are saying it's not that the Taliban's stronger, it's that we're more successful, all you can do is to try and prove that that's not the case."

With fewer reporters covering this dangerous, not to mention expensive, assignment, do Americans have a clear view of this war?

"No, I don't think they do. In spite of the best efforts of a lot of journalists, the Iraq war overshadowed Afghanistan for so long," Logan said, adding that after the Iraq invasion, she went back to Afghanistan and lived there for more than a year.

Logan said that covering Afghanistan doesn't easily translate into a compelling television segment.

"The problem is that, you know, until you're there, it's so hard to describe the obstacles. Just the physical conditions of trying to fight a war in that country are so overwhelming. It's very hard to communicate that. Even, you know, on television, you can't smell it. You can't feel the dirt. You can't feel the heat."

Logan, who has been based in Washington, DC since June 2008 – after reporting from war zones for 17 years –gave birth to her first child eight months ago. She said this had been a consideration in her decision to return to the war zone.

"I didn't hesitate, but it is very hard. It is. I mean, you're - everything has changed and I think about not coming home. I think about that child growing up without a mother and that - that's been the hardest thing I've ever done."

Filed under: Afghanistan • State of the Union
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