I am a cynical person. It takes a lot to amaze me. But, twice in the past couple of years I have been utterly and completely astounded by the blatant manipulative nature of the corporate media. I don’t know exactly why this should be so.
Years ago, I wrote a book about ideology, the media and the invasion of Panama. I started off the book relating a story of sitting in my study watching the coverage of the invasion. The invasion. That’s what it was called by the news media in the beginning because that was what it was. It only took a few hours, however, until otherwise respectable news people became cheerleaders for the clearly illegal invasion. And, also within a few hours they started referring to the invasion as “Operation Just Cause.”
I kid you not. Major news anchors would say: “We are covering Operation Just Cause” using the name given to the invasion by the military.
I wouldn’t at all be surprised (although I would be disgusted) if by Monday, the major corporate news outlets started referring to the Biden withdrawal from Afghanistan as “Operation Just Ending to a Forever War.”
Another reason none of this should surprise me is that I sat and watched the outrageous effort on the part of MSNBC news to destroy Bernie Sanders’s candidacy after he won the Arizona primary. I have photos on my cell phone of Joy Reid’s devastated face when she had to report Sanders’s win, a win that was multi-ethnic and that included union members who refused to obey their bosses and voted for Sanders.
After that primary, MSNBC anchors (especially Reid) went into overdrive to help the DNC prevent Sanders from being nominated and promoting Joe Biden. There was nothing subtle about it. Chris Matthews even said on his dreadful nightly show that Bernie Sanders would take people like him (Matthews) out in Central Park and execute them. (We can only wish).
Now, this time, corporate news, especially MSNBC, is busily trying to whitewash Biden’s ill-conceived and disastrously bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan. They are doing it for the same reason they worked to destroy Bernie Sanders – to promote and protect Joe Biden.
Since early last week I have been watching with growing alarm the Taliban take over Afghanistan. Every time I looked at an article with a map of who controlled territory in Afghanistan the Taliban’s control expanded. I had read with shame and disbelief about the decision to abandon Bagram air force base in the middle of the night without even consulting and informing the local governments.
I had read with disgust about the “negotiating” between the Trump administration and the Taliban. Who in their right mind would even think of “negotiating” with the Taliban? But, that was Trump and the dangerously ill religious zealot Pompeo. We had elected Biden to change things.
Then, I watched with utter horror and incomprehension as Joe Biden doggedly continued to pursue a policy of total withdrawal from Afghanistan by a specific date even in the face of mounting evidence that we could not even get all the Americans out much less all the Afghans who fought with us and for us.
I was 24 when the U.S. withdrew from Saigon. I had nightmares about those scenes well into my 40s and I had been an anti-war activist who worked with SDS. I opposed that war.
I opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, even the most anti-war activist can make a distinction between going into a war and getting out of one. I opposed the war in Afghanistan but once we were there, had been there for 20 years, we owned it. We couldn’t just walk away as if we had never started any of this.
But that was evidently exactly what Joe Biden intended to do. I just could not wrap my mind around it. Who was this precipitous withdrawal intended to please? To what constituency was this supposed to appeal?
Added to this, the behavior of Biden and his administration was so Trumpian it made me sick to my stomach. Biden appeared on television doubling down on his decision to pursue this ill planned and ill conducted withdrawal. He would not even admit that there had been any mistakes. It was a “do you believe me or your lying eyes” strategy. I thought we voted for Biden to stop that kind of behavior. Ned Price (from whom I expected more) and Jake Sullivan spouted bureaucratic-speak nonsense from the podium trying to legitimate the policy. They were both utterly terrible at it. They lied and obfuscated with evasive eye movements and even hostility when they were asked to answer legitimate questions.
It reminded me of the “I’m the smartest person in every room” hubris of the Obama people who have always felt that criticizing or even questioning Obama’s policies or behavior was tantamount to treason and also a personal affront.
On the corporate news, in an attempt to protect Joe Biden, hosts minimized the chaos and the impact of the set of decisions Biden made with regard to this withdrawal from Afghanistan.
As Charlotte Rampell wrote, otherwise rational people seem to be having a great deal of trouble distinguishing between the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the way in which this particular withdrawal was carried out. They are having trouble and they are having trouble for a reason, they wish to protect Joe Biden.
As one former Republican, Matthew Dowd, hosted on several of the programs last week said, Democrats should circle the wagons around Joe Biden, support the president, because that’s what the Republicans would do. So, this guy is treated like an oracle because he is saying was that we should support the leader of our party whatever he does because he is the leader of the party.
As someone tweeted recently: You can unwaveringly support your ethics and morals or you can unwaveringly support the leader of your party, you can’t do both.