Major U.S. media outlets appear to be turning against President Joe Biden this week with uncharacteristic criticism of him after the U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan turned into a nightmarish debacle.
Correspondents from outlets including ABC, NBC, and CNN were unusually frank in refuting what they saw as highly inaccurate summaries Biden was giving to reporters at the White House of the situation on the ground in Kabul, the Afghan capital, where thousands of American troops have been sent back in to secure the rescue of thousands more American citizens trapped there.
“We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport,” Biden said during a press conference on Friday in response to a question about whether he’ll agree to send U.S. troops into the city to “evacuate Americans who haven’t been able to get to the airport safely.”
“We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban thus far. They’ve allowed them to go through,” Biden continued.
“It’s in their interest for them to go through, so we know of no circumstance where American citizens carrying American passports are trying to get through to the airport. But we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it they get to the airport,” he said.
However, several national media outlets featured follow-on segments in which correspondents who were on the ground in the city reported much different conditions.
“Well, we had difficulty getting into the airport,” CNN’s Clarissa Ward said from Kabul.
“It’s very difficult. It’s not a simple process at all. And you might remember I did a live shot a couple of days ago outside the airport,” she told anchor Victor Blackwell.
“I was talking to people with green cards, people who had all their SIV applications accepted, their visa, and they couldn’t get close,” she said.
“Anyone who says that any American can get in here is, you know — yeah, I mean, technically, it’s possible, but it’s extremely difficult and it is dangerous,” Ward added.
ABC News, David Muir asked senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell, who was broadcasting from Kabul as well, a similar question.
— Terry Moran 🇺🇸 (@TerryMoran) August 20, 2021
“No indication Americans can’t get to the airport” @POTUS
Simply not accurate https://t.co/zxfaehcENr
— Ian Pannell (@IanPannell) August 20, 2021
“The president said he has no intelligence that Americans have been unable to get there. The question obviously, does that square with reporting on the ground?” Muir asked.
“I mean, just totally not,” Pannell responded.
“It just seems the reality and the rhetoric are miles apart. I’m not quite sure what advice the president’s receiving, but the truth on the ground is that these people who are in fear of their lives can’t get through,” Parnell added.
He went on to say that some Americans were beaten with a rubber fan belt hose from a vehicle by a Taliban fighter.
Chief NBC News foreign correspondent Richard Engel, who was reporting from Doha, Qatar, told anchor Lester Holt, “President Biden just described a very orderly process, an American airlift that is going efficiently, that there’s a negotiation with the Taliban, that it may be difficult but Afghans can get to the airport and then get on these flights and then come to places like Doha.”
“It is far more chaotic than that.”
Syndicated with permission from USA Features News.