After months of fawning over the septuagenarian president, corporate media already looked bad. But now even they can’t cover for the nowhere-to-be-found Biden as his disorganized withdrawal from Afghanistan descends into heartbreaking chaos, and they look even worse for ever trying to.
On Monday, CNN’s Clarissa Ward reported that nearby Taliban members who were shouting “Death to America” seemed “friendly at the same time.” Her analysis is a fitting soundbite to represent the shallow stupidity of the corporate media’s failed Afghanistan reporting.
Over and over, talking heads scorned the Trump administration’s efforts to get out of Afghanistan as disorganized, foolish, and planless. The messaging about the incoming Biden administration — on Afghanistan and everything else — was that seasoned professionals were finally back in the situation room and the hotheaded Trumpsters who wanted to throw the system to pot were out.
“With Afghanistan decision, Biden restores foreign policymaking process that Trump had largely abandoned,” headlined the Washington Post in April 2021.
“To many in the White House, widely reported accounts of the disagreements [between Biden officials] miss the point, especially in light of President Donald Trump’s habit of not even consulting the military before tweeting abrupt diktats on troop withdrawals,” the Post’s Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan wrote.
Prior to this week, the propaganda press crowed that incompetence had kept Trump from completing an Afghanistan withdrawal, and lauded the coming victory that withdrawal would be for Biden.
“Trump’s crippling Attention-Deficit-Disorder and the serial incompetence of both him and his team let a huge opportunity slip away — and now Biden will reap the rewards,” said Keith Naughton in The Hill.
“Trump blew it, and now Biden will get the win,” he added, under the headline “Afghanistan withdrawal: Trump fumbles, Biden scores.”
“Leaving Afghanistan the Right Way” was the Wall Street Journal editorial board’s synopsis of Biden’s plan, back in February.
Trump’s “reckless” deadline of withdrawing by May 1 “was driven by Donald Trump’s domestic political instincts — not a strategic calculation,” the board noted. “President Biden is wisely reviewing that decision.”
CNN coverage echoed the description of Trump’s plan as “reckless,” choosing to describe Biden’s approach with a quote from his former boss about Biden’s “bold leadership.”
One of the things I’ve discussed before is how outlets can frame the narrative they want by focusing on people who support or oppose a certain policy. It’s misleading, but also a calling card of @CNN. pic.twitter.com/sypGhatZdZ
MSNBC found someone (who now happens to be a member of Biden’s cabinet) to quote saying Trump’s foreign policy decisions were made “impulsively, erratically, emotionally” and then found someone else (a former running mate of Hillary Clinton) to describe the Biden administration’s plans for withdrawal as “the right call.”
Corporate media spent Biden’s entire presidency up to now hyping Biden’s looming exit from Afghanistan, after painting the Trump team as incompetent. Now, the Biden team has woefully failed to deliver. Biden’s failure to have any perceptible strategy in pulling out of Afghanistan is exactly what the media predicted from Trump, and assured us would never happen under the gentleman from Scranton.
And now they look like idiots, who never knew what they were talking about (or if they did, were never honest about it).
As the Biden administration seeks to blame its embarrassing failure on Trump — an excuse that doesn’t hold up under the most basic scrutiny — some in the media will surely seek to cover their own role in the fiasco by doing the same thing. ABC News was already amplifying Biden’s blame game on Monday, making the cop-out halfhearted non-rebuttal that maybe both presidents hold responsibility for Biden’s failure to accompany the decision to withdraw with any kind of strategy for withdrawal.
Others in the corporate media have feigned shock, glibly accepting the claim that the White House and the intelligence community are just as “stunned” as they are.
President Joe Biden and other top U.S. officials have been stunned by the pace of the Taliban’s nearly complete takeover of Afghanistan, as the planned withdrawal of American forces urgently became a mission to ensure a safe evacuation. https://t.co/gx4tmJ4AYv
Still, others are frustrated that after months of pushing the narrative of Biden’s competence they have been definitively shown to be liars. Anyone who denied, overlooked, or downplayed Biden’s incompetence up to now cannot deny his administration’s failure to have an exit strategy in Afghanistan. Not only is the withdrawal chaos showing a complete lack of planning, Biden spent the weekend AWOL and his press secretary is unreachable on vacation.
“At the heart of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign was a single word: competence,” wrote CNN’s Chris Cillizza on Monday with hands-in-the-air dismay. “After four years of Donald Trump’s incompetence in, well, everything, the Biden argument was that the country badly needed a steady hand on the tiller.”
But now, Cillizza hand-wrings, “the crisis in Afghanistan is front and center in this reexamining of Biden’s competence argument.” Cillizza himself described Biden as “confident and competent” during Biden’s campaign.
Of course, you still won’t see the mealy-mouthed media breathe the same fire toward Biden that they would have directed at Trump had this disaster (and lack of response to it) occurred under the former president.
I can’t begin to comprehend the reaction if Trump took a long weekend, worked for 2 days, flew to Mar-a-Lago and then went radio silent for a weekend at Camp David while all of this was happening
But whether pundits salvage their injured pride by weakly turning on Biden or by continuing to cover for him, his failure to deliver on their promises of his competence has made them look deeply foolish. He has displayed the cluelessness and folly they repeatedly predicted of Trump, and anyone with a brain can see it.