Of course Ben Sasse is correct in that declaration. But that’s not the real question, is it? Earlier this morning, the Senate Republican from Nebraska blasted Joe Biden and his administration’s attempts to shift focus to domestic policy while thousands of Americans remain trapped behind Taliban lines in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration might want to offer distractions to spin the news cycle, but Americans seeking escape “don’t give a damn” about media management:
“President Biden desperately wants to talk about anything but Afghanistan, but Americans who are hiding from the Taliban, ISIS, and the Haqqani network don’t give a damn about news cycles, long weekends, and polling — they want out. The Biden administration has a moral obligation to give a full accounting: What is the exact number of Americans trapped in Afghanistan? What is the exact number of legal permanent residents? How many SIV allies? Without answering those questions, they’re just doing political propaganda.”
They certainly don’t care about news cycles, and for obvious reasons. The real question, however, is whether the news cycles care about abandoned Americans in Afghanistan. The answer today, just as it was yesterday, seems to be no. For instance, here’s the home page for CNN, in which the abandoned Americans, legal permanent residents or citizens, get nary a link or mention:
How about the Washington Post, which called Biden’s abandonment of Americans and allies a “moral disaster”? Democracy dies in darkness, their banner warns in other parts of their site, but their home page keeps the abandoned Americans in darkness nevertheless:
At the New York Times, where they promise “All the news that’s fit to print,” they can’t even fit a mention of Afghanistan into the home page until one scrolls far down. The abandoned Americans apparently don’t fit at all:
There are three mentions of the Supreme Court ruling on the Texas abortion law before we ever get to the single mention of Afghanistan on the Gray Lady’s front page. That mention is a report that the Taliban have begun a restoration at Kabul’s airport in anticipation of aid resumption.
Abandoned Americans? What abandoned Americans?
Jim Geraghty called this yesterday morning, in fact:
Mark it down, Thursday, September 2 is the day that vast swaths of the U.S. national media turned their attention away from the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, and the Americans stranded there, and turned to domestic news stories.https://t.co/Qi2fWSrMz7 pic.twitter.com/md2ANiDRGl
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) September 2, 2021
The White House couldn’t ask for better political cover. However, this almost certainly won’t last, especially if the Taliban and/or ISIS decide to make propaganda use of abandoned Americans and allies Biden left behind. If they start making videos, this story will go back to the very top of the news cycle, each and every time. Jimmy Carter had his presidency destroyed by a hostage crisis that only involved a few dozen Americans, and those didn’t get left behind in a chaotic retreat from an enemy we had fought for two decades. There are literally thousands of Americans, not to mention tens of thousands of our Afghan allies, that terrorists can exploit to humiliate the US and bolster their own standing among radical-Islamist networks.
The news media have made clear that the abandoned Americans aren’t a priority for them. The news cycle might eventually have other ideas, whether they like it or not, and this absence of coverage will look mighty strange and curiously corrupt if and when it does.
Update: Sasse isn’t letting it go, either. Joe Biden gave a statement after today’s jobs report urging Americans to “stick together,” while refusing to answer questions on Afghanistan. The spectacle apparently prompted a gag reflex for Sasse:
“It takes a lot of nerve to give a lecture about ‘sticking together’ when you just left hundreds of Americans behind enemy lines and your only plan is to change the subject.”