The New York Times isn’t as hard on Joe Biden as it should be, but it isn’t giving him the kind of cover Biden’s backers would like to see (and probably expect). My friend who is following the Times’ coverage of the Afghanistan fiasco filed this report on today’s edition:
NYT’s core news coverage does relatively little to protect Biden. The drone attack gets a headline, but the article quickly notes that the U.S. is “leaving untold thousands” of Afghans who helped us behind. The piece calls our exit “chaotic and bloody.”
Another article focuses on fears that American-allied Afghans will be killed, despite Taliban assurances to the contrary. Another article covers Biden at the transfer ceremony for the bodies of the slain American soldiers.
On the other hand, although the crucial matter of American citizens left behind is not ignored by NYT, it is not much of a focus either. Arguably, the Times is pulling its punches on this to minimize damage to Biden.
Curiously, one article says that according to the U.S., “about 250 American citizens still in Afghanistan are trying to leave, some of whom were already at the airport.” Yet an article on the next page says, “The State Department said an additional 350 Americans were still waiting to be evacuated as of Saturday.”
Why do these numbers differ? Do they include Americans trapped outside of Kabul? Do they represent what the administration claims to be the total number of American citizens who want to leave who are left in country? None of this is clear.
The status of stranded American citizens ought to be subject to the sort to detailed coverage the Times is devoting to our Afghan allies, but we are offered nothing of the sort.
The Op-Ed page features a piece by Dennis Ross, an American diplomat who‘s worked under Republican and Democratic administrations. Ross makes the case that U.S. credibility has not been dealt a “mortal blow” or “forever doomed.”
This is a straw man. Ross concedes that American credibility has taken a significant hit, and that is what counts.
Strikingly, Ross calls on Biden to extend the withdrawal deadline so as to evacuate all Americans, and all Afghans who worked with us. I see no sign that Biden will do this.
So even an Op-Ed that beats a straw man in order to minimize Biden’s blow to American credibility implicitly criticizes the president by calling on him not to desert our citizens and allies. There is no covering for this fiasco.