Listen now (10 mins) | The excited pile-on
The job of the press should be to follow a story where the evidence takes it, but the press these days often gathers only the evidence that fits the story they already have in mind. So, we had lots of early stories about people scrambling to get on planes to depart Afghanistan, but only a few stories later about all the people flying out of the country on regularly scheduled flights. It is a given that the press often follows a pre-existing narrative. For that reason, the question is "What made the press fashion that particular narrative in the first place?". Here we bounce around with the possible answers: both sides must be represented in the news, so republican talking points get equal play; republicans own the media conglomerates; both owners and journalists prefer (for different reasons) exciting stories to boring stories...and so on. Whether we are talking about narrative-following or how the narratives are formed, we are talking about bad journalism.......And thank you, Eric, writing on these issues and for again using the word, 'dopey'.
The media doesn't seem interested in the Special Inspector General's reports on Afghanistan. One from 2016 noted that the 300-thousand man "army" was actually just 300-thousand paychecks. No one seemed to be able to confirm the actual existence of a significant percentage of the "troops." As was the case with post invasion Iraq, the corruption in Afghanistan was nauseating. Apparently that is not a sufficiently entertaining story for our junior high level reporters to track down.
The DC press for the most part has become the National Inquirer. Why do I feel like circulation and book deals define the coverage of news. The story should be how we dropped 2 trillion, much of it going to contractors, who were “training” the Afghans. As long as our national government is based on bribery, and the press won’t dig into that story, we are the mercy of people figuring it out on their own. If you have any questions, follow the money.
ah, yes and this news that JUST CAME OUT, will be totally ignored by the MSM. U.S. weekly jobless claims fall to 17-month low
I am struck by how few journalists are willing to point out that this was a quagmire that was never never going to have a good ending and that is the fault of Dubya and Cheney. The media widely covered Liz Cheney’s comments about who is to blame without pointing out that not only her father but she herself is culpable. Liz was the State Department’s Deputy Assistant for Near Easter Affairs for the Bush administration at the time Bush started this war and was a big supporter.
I am also infuriated by all the reports of that recent Morning Consult poll emphasizing it showed a big drop in support for he withdrawal with only 49% now approving. Many conveniently neglected to point out that that that 49% was still 12 points higher than opposition to the withdrawal.
Hi Eric. Big fan here.
My ongoing question is, where has the press been on this story for 20 years!? Sure there has been occasional coverage, and anyone paying any attention knew that sooner or later America would leave Afghanistan in defeat. Where were the David Halberstams, Neil Sheehans, Seymour Hershes, who covered Vietnam so well? Has the Pentagon learned to squash objective war reporting, have the media sold out for access, or some combo? Inquiring minds would like to know!
I am still galled that: if we had accepted the Taliban's offer to had bin Laden over to us -- or had insisted on going there to destroy al Qeda and capturing bin Laden then and there... the whole business should have been done by New Year's Day 2002. At the latest. The Bushes and Cheneys should be in jail, and certainly NOT getting free passes as elder statesmen.
I have come to loathe Politico, which I now refer to as "Republico." If I wanted GOP talking points, I could go to National Review. Feel pretty much the same about The Hill. And the fact that so much of the MSM are feckless and gutless in the face of right wing whining about "liberal bias" (keeping in mind that reality has a liberal bias anyway) makes me physically ill. Then again, it's not all cowardice. It's also greed, which Les Moonves revealed in 2016 when he said that Trump might be bad for America but was great for CBS. That cat's been out of the bag for five years now. Still wondering whether the MSM will enjoy the imminent fascism they are unwittingly enabling. Fascism and a free press have never been friends.
The ivory tower where I dwell is a state university that is one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. I'll be curious next week. I have the funny feeling that the students won't be caught up in the idea that Biden singlehandedly destroyed our successful program in Afghanistan. The media have to remain so because, remember, the L word still is not Liberal. The L word for the political media is Lazy, and this is a story where they can ignore reality even more than they usually do.
Mr. Boehlert. The “long crisis” faced by President Biden is the eternal hammering he will take from RW Media and other “Media” looking for a story.
I refer you to recent articles by Max Boot on the issue. Boot, literally, suggests endless war, or another 70 years which is the same thing at my age.
It is so interesting to watch cable (msnbc in this case) as the news from Afghanistan has quickly morphed from headlines of hair on fire chaos to a more organized, evacuation. Katty Kaye still stressing the loss of America’s standing in the world though conditions on the ground are changing/improving; others having to rely on loops of the same 3 or so videos of the first day of the evacuation at the airport as though those conditions persist. Do they think no one will notice the rapid shift back to vaccinations and away from Afghanistan as the lede, no questions asked. Really something. Press damage done. Next. Eric, you are indeed a jewel! Thanks per usual for your steadfast commitment to sanity, facts, context in press reporting.
I'm glad you included Nicole Wallace's comment. I thought it was very telling. On the other hand Richard Engle's reports from Kabul have been way beyond 'coverage' and into the editorial territory for me. Plus loving that Los Lobos record. So much great music coming out this summer.
Eric, excellently researched and well-written piece! And I appreciated your link to Twitter User Jess Coleman making a point about Politico calling Biden's speech Trumpian, where he tweeted: "Look, Biden deserves criticism for his execution of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. But calling his speech yesterday 'Trumpian' is outrageous and bordering on pro-war propaganda." Definitely. I commended him and pointed out that this came more specifically from the notorious Politico Playbook team — @playbookDC — which consists of @rachaelmbade, @EugeneDaniels2, @RyanLizza and @tarapalmeri (in case anyone wants to angry tweet at them). This is far from the first time they've done something like this — these guys are the height of stirring the pot for clickbait.
From Judd Legum on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JuddLegum/status/1428363331916599315?s=20
Tonight, Lawrence O'Donnell addressed the gotcha withdrawal framing. Impactful first segment. Not enough time but at least he stepped up.
Well, at huge risk of repeating myself and being boring...: The mainstream press haven't acquitted themselves all that well regarding Afghanistan, more specifically our invasion, since ca. September 2001. Now we're getting concern for Afghans about to be killed, but over twenty years approximately no concern from the media for the at least tens of thousands as a result of our invasion and occupation. Essentially no detailing of why the invasion quickly became a failure. Or that we couldn't actually succeed without destabilizing Pakistan.
And then sort of parallel to the issue of Biden's timing with the withdrawal is that Trump's 2020 treaty with the Taliban in which we promised them a return to power in a year or so as well as the release of 5,000 prisoners in exchange for empty promises served to tell them to start preparing to take power again whilst our Afghan puppets for whom being corrupted by Uncle Sugar was Job 1 and delivering for their people was pretty goddam far down their list of priorities if at all just kept on failing.
Too, there's a presumption, I guess, that the problem with the military-industrial complex is that it's a flood of money flowing to businesses. But it has a collateral effort of, to a degree, shifting the military's focus towards enriching private interests at the expense of actual military security matters. I'd like to think upper management in military knew goddam well that going in Afghanistan was an ungodly mistake; it was really, really obvious at the time and nothing changed since then. Vietnam demonstrated that no amount of materiel can win hearts and minds when we insist on doing business with corrupt puppets. (BTW: I'm highly skeptical of the Russian report that Ghani left with nearly $170B in cash -- the size of such a load and no reason think any Russian would be in a position to know triggers the BS detector. OTOH, I do doubt that he's very, very far from destitute.)
Our Failed Political Press ™ cannot report honestly on Afghanistan, or it would have to report how their experts got it wrong for 20 years, and then who would trust them again. The media would be forced to say that Barbara Lee got it right as did all the filthy hippies, and that just won’t happen. We will never, ever see the 2000s anti-invasion of Afghanistan Left on the news.
If you or I had done our one job as disastrously as the media, we would be shown the door with a cheese sandwich and a roadmap out of town.