Saturday 18 September 2021

Different president, different reporting


Even since the Biden administration's bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan climaxed in the deaths of 13 US marines and some 200 others at Kabul airport at the hands of Islamic State's Afghan offshoot and the US quickly retaliated, claiming to have successfully struck two ISIS-K targets, doubts have been expressed about those targets. Were they really terrorists? 

We'll probably never know if those killed in the first, surprisingly swift strike were really senior IS commanders, as was claimed at the time, or were merely low-level IS members, or just unlucky locals killed by mistake, because the US has refused to provide any details. It happened out in the Afghan countryside, far from journalists' eyes.

The doubts about the second ''righteous strike'' [Mark Milley, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] surfaced straightaway. I saw photos of the children killed in the attack within hours and some media organisations were on the case straightaway too saying that an innocent family had been hit, not IS-KP terrorists. From the first hours it looked to me as if the US had struck the wrong people. But the bullish Biden administration/Pentagon officials stuck to their line that it was IS terrorists on their way to attack the airport again who had been vaporised. Finally, the US has now admitted that they did indeed strike the wrong target. They actually hit an aid worker and a translator and another ally, and seven children. What the US military thought were weapons were actually water bottles.

Watching BBC News at Ten's brief coverage of the US admission last night and reading the BBC News website's report on the story, featuring 'analysis' from Barbara Plett-Usher, I was struck by how little they were tying the Biden administration to the story. It's as if they were downplaying the Biden administration's responsibility. No mention of Mark Milley. Just a passing somewhat positive reference in the online piece to Joe Biden.  [''The last US soldier left Afghanistan on 31 August - the deadline President Joe Biden had set for the US withdrawal.'']. And quotes from the US Defence Secretary being added to the online piece 9 hours later.

I think blog favourite Adrian Hilton sums it up well:
Adrian Hilton: If this appalling tragedy had occurred under Donald Trump, I'm sure UK media (esp. BBC News and Channel 4 News) would have apportioned blame directly at his feet, and given it hours of negative coverage. But under Joe Biden it's excusable; not newsworthy...'collateral damage'.
To put it another way: Just imagine what would have happened if Donald Trump had carried out the strikes, and seven children had been killed in a botched response to a terror attack which killed 13 Americans as a result of bottlenecking caused by the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul airport, accompanied by images of people falling from the wheel wells of aeroplanes. 

It speaks of biased reporting. 

And scanning the BBC's TV channels today for 'Biden', he's only being mentioned in connection with a pro-Trump/pro-Capitol protesters rally coming up this weekend and the French withdrawing their ambassadors to the US and Australia over Aukus.

UpdateNomia Iqbal's report on the BBC News Channel this morning ended by focusing on ''the US military'', not the Biden administration:
This awful mistake further dents the US military's reputation, that has already been damaged by its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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