Mixed Bag: ABC, NBC Journos Body-Slam Biden While Others on CBS, NBC Go Soft

August 31st, 2021 10:20 PM

On Tuesday afternoon, following President Biden’s address about the end of the war in Afghanistan, some broadcast network journalists slammed President Biden’s speech as angry, defiant, and misleading while others fawned over his claims about the withdrawal as “largely a success” and said his firm deadline will be “reward[ed]” by voters.

CBS was devoid of the tough talk that we saw on ABC and strayed from NBC’s extremes of body-slamming and fawning in that they were solely invested in propping up Biden.



CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell stated after Biden left the podium that he gave “a detailed and defensive speech” that “was point-by-point addressing each of his critics.” White House correspondent Weijia Jiang concurred, saying Biden “took on every criticism that we have heard...especially from Republicans who have really hammered [him] not only for his decision to withdraw, but the way that he did it.”

Later, O’Donnell strangely made sure that viewers realized they should separate Biden’s decision-making from the work of the troops (which was something that wasn’t really in doubt).

As far as the fawning NBC, Biden flunkie and correspondent Mike Memoli boasted that Biden’s “comfortable” on “whether to extend the mission” and blaming Donald Trump. Memoli added that Biden “acknowledged those chaotic, those messy and yes, the tragic scenes” while hailing the withdrawal as “largely a success.”

Closing out the Special Report, fill-in anchor Tom Llamas gushed that while, “the images that we saw” in Kabul will stick with the American people, they will also remember that Biden came through after “promis[ing] to withdraw from Afghanistan.”

NBC historian Michael Beschloss played his usual role of a liberal sycophant, smirking that Biden did exactly what he said he would do: “[When] you look at history, Americans and historians reward presidents who do what they promise.”

Beschloss then proceeded to compare him to Dwight Eisenhower and the opposite of Richard Nixon. Gag.

Otherwise, NBC continued its hardline against their friends in the administration. This would include chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel’s ongoing savagery of Biden’s worldview.

This latest fact-check started with Biden’s insistence that the U.S. will ensure Afghanistan doesn’t become a terror haven. Engel dismantled that by saying “already, ISIS is accommodating with the Taliban to a degree” on top of the fact that “al-Qaeda still has very close connections to...the Taliban.”



And on that note, Engel said some al-Qaeda leaders were “being welcomed...as heroes” that could add an “inspiration aspect” that could spell danger for the world (click “expand”)

It doesn't necessarily have to be that the next Osama bin Laden is sitting in Tora Bora, is sitting in Afghanistan. It is the example of what has just happened. The example that a small group of Islamist fighters can push out a super power that could inspire the next bin Laden. So President Biden talked a lot about the — this war being yesterday's threat, that it had gone on too long, and a lot of Americans support leaving — leaving Afghanistan, but he didn't talk very much about the current dangers, the current situation, the threats that we face today because a state in central Asia has collapsed. It is now being controlled by the Taliban.

The Taliban still have relations with other extremist groups. No real indications that they're going to break those — those — those ties, and the region itself is very, very nervous about further instability. Iran is spreading its influence. Pakistan, which has 200 million people and nuclear weapons, shares a border with — with Afghanistan. Many tribal connections, many militant groups just on the Pakistani side of the border who could very easily be inspired by what has happened in the — in Afghanistan. So, when you talk about future threats, I think you need to recognize that what has happened right now is also extraordinarily dangerous for Afghan, for the regions, and potentially also for Americans.

Pentagon correspondent Courtney Kube added to the ISIS-K piece of this and said they’re a “very real and persistent threat in Afghanistan” with “concern...that they will grow” with potentially for them and/or al-Qaeda to have the “ungoverned spaces” to plan “attacks against the west.”

Even Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd joined in, slamming portions of the speech as “extraordinarily defensive” and “political spadework” that included him “raising his voice” as signs that criticism had “gotten under his skin” (click “expand”):

On one hand, they want to own the larger picture here, put a period on this sentence in American history. But I do get the sense that they didn't even — that this was a this felt like a tale of two speeches when you see it and perhaps it had multiple contributors into the speech because the first part was extraordinarily defensive at points. He even sounded like he was raising his voice when he went through his rationale for doing the withdrawal the way it was done. You can tell that clearly has gotten under his skin — the backseat driving on this because he seems to be extraordinarily defensive. I thought his speech and the rationale on the bigger picture got stronger in the second half when he made it about the larger idea. Why did we go to Afghanistan in the first place... [Y]ou can tell the political concerns were hovering over his head, hovering the decision in the first part of that speech because it was awfully defensive. It once again wanted to make it clear — wasn't his idea to work with the Taliban, that President Trump put him in this position, that he had no choice, the Taliban was stronger than ever so that defensiveness came through, I think, very awkwardly, I think, I'll be honest at the beginning of the speech. You do wonder, like I said, the second half of the speech had a — had a — had a much more coherent sort of case that he was trying to make. The first part of the speech felt like he was doing political spade work, if you will, just desperately trying to push back on the near-term criticism he's been getting. And look, we're not going to get a resolution on that for some time.

Once again, ABC didn’t have this problem. Chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz called out Biden for “conflating the withdrawal with the evacuation” and especially considering the fact that “[t]he evacuation occurred because the withdrawal was” on account of the fact that “they did not realize the Taliban would take over so quickly.”

Raddatz continued outlining Biden’s shifting statements, drawing agreement from World News Tonight anchor David Muir (click “expand”):

RADDATZ: They did not realize the Taliban would fall in 11 days and that's why you ended up with this chaos. That's why you ended up with so many desperate people. Just on July 8th, the President was saying there's going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. They were clinging to airplanes in those early days. He was touting the Afghan forces, saying I trust the capacity of the Afghan military. The President said they were ready, they were prepared for this, but no one was prepared for 11 days for the Taliban to take over. The President also promising on July 8th that we can guarantee the safety of the interpreters. There are thousands of interpreters in Afghanistan right now who are desperate and frightened. And just about a month ago, he told our George Stephanopoulos that he would get all Americans out. They've gotten 90 percent of those out and that 10 percent right now is scared and still does not know exactly how they're going to get out, David. 

MUIR: You're absolutely right, Martha. With time comes clarity and the question over those 11 days, 11 days it took, for the Taliban to sweep through that country and take control. President Biden, his national security team and military leaders could not predict that would happen that quickly[.]

ABC senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell concurred with Muir’s bleak outlook at Team Biden having success in trusting the Taliban to help get Americans and Afghan allies out of the country, saying that Biden “seem[ed]...intent” on “burnish[ing] his record, in some senses and there was a lot of blame attributed to many, many people.”



After calling out Biden’s claim that Americans left behind want to stay in the country, Pannell expanded on Muir’s assessment (click “expand”):

But the key question is, can you trust the Taliban? And the President, again, referred to Taliban statements and promises that are being made. Well, talk to any Afghan and they'll tell you, yes, the Taliban make a lot of promises but the reality on the ground is very different. I think it is true that, if the Taliban are true to the word that they want to have external relations, they want to be able to have good relations with America which is what Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesperson for the Taliban said, only today at the airport, then they're going to have to come good. They're going to have to make a deal with the Americans but we have to wait and see.

To see the relevant network transcripts from August 31, click here.