Photographed by Bjarne Jonasson
Vogue.com has a great article on CNN's Arwa Damon with quotes from CNN colleagues Tony Maddox and Anderson Cooper. Here's the first few paragraphs, to read the entire piece just click on this link.
The Manhattan apartment CNN’s Arwa Damon has been camping out in this past week is a disaster zone. Among the flock of pashminas and well-worn jeans are all the trappings of a Boy Scout: fingerless gloves; bottles of DEET; dry shampoo; a bandanna that, with a pen, can be jury-rigged into a tourniquet; LED headlamps; small black nylon hoods (“because here’s the deal: We’re using night-vision cameras with bright screens, and we don’t want to be seen,” she says); size 8 combat boots; three cell phones (American, Libyan, Lebanese); a heap of dark clothing. “I buy colors, but I don’t wear them,” says the diminutive blonde, her hair tucked into a paperboy cap. “Black is easier.” She throws it all into a suitcase, forming a pile twice its height, and points to a backpack in the corner. “When I’m on assignment, everything I need has to be carried on my back.” She climbs on top of the suitcase and zips it closed.
In the weeks since Damon discovered the personal diary of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in the burned-out American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, this 35-year-old television reporter has been at the center of a developing story—never a comfortable position for someone whose job is to break the news, not create it. She and a cameraman arrived at the consulate three days after the terrorist attack on September 11, and, with no U.S. officials or security on the scene, they went right in—cameras rolling, lights blazing. “It was a grim sight,” Damon says. Smashed furniture was everywhere; tile shards littered the floor. “There were smeared partial handprints. The safe room was completely burned from the inside.” In an ash-shrouded bedroom, Damon found the ambassador’s hardbound diary, set in plain view on the floor between the bed and an upholstered side chair. The seven pages of handwritten scrawl inside revealed a man who had begun to fear for his safety in a country only recently emerging from revolution.
Damon’s network broadcast her footage and reported on concerns raised in the diary, sparking a now-roiling debate over security conditions in Benghazi. Why was the consulate so lightly defended? Why were news crews seemingly the only ones with eyes and ears on the ground after the attack? The State Department weighed in harshly, calling CNN “disgusting” for its use of the ambassador’s diary as a source (CNN says the Stevens family was contacted within hours of the discovery and the diary’s newsworthy content was independently corroborated).
Damon doesn’t revel in the reporting that initiated a national outrage. Nor does she waste a minute worrying about what Hillary Clinton’s team thinks of her. “Honestly, it’s a blip,” she says, piling her final pieces of gear into the backpack. “You never want to be part of the news. But doing what I do, you’re used to curveballs. You deal with it because you deal with everything.”