A month into the Taliban takeover of Kabul, and the misinformation and disinformation continues to soar into dizzying territory – driven not only by both clumsy, opportunistic social media sharing, but also seemingly structured propaganda initiatives both inside and outside Afghanistan.
Jack Pagano, a retired U. S. Army lieutenant colonel, and the COO of Shamshad TV, an over-the air and satellite television channel in Afghanistan, has a unique perspective on television in that troubled country. “The Taliban will eventually go back to 2001 television when it was religious broadcasting and that is it,” Pagano says. “Nothing more.”
A convoy of military experts have been invited onto cable TV shows to critique the calamitous end of the Afghanistan War, notwithstanding the central roles many of them played in the 20-year conflict, which was supposed to result in a democratic Afghan government that could withstand Taliban attacks. That has not sat well with some viewers — and even some TV hosts — who argue that some of these former leaders are eliding their own role in the failure of that mission and are unfairly criticizing the Biden administration for abiding by a withdrawal that was negotiated under Trump.
Networks mobilized on Thursday to cover what was described as a “complex” attack outside the Kabul airport, showing pictures and video of the carnage that killed a number of U.S. service members and left scores of others injured.
Fox News Media said today that it successfully evacuated three Afghan nationals who have worked alongside its correspondents as fixers and assistants throughout coverage over the years. It also said it retrieved a colleague from a regional media company and the families of all. The affected include producers, translators, drivers and security personnel. A total of 24 people were rescued, the news outlet claims.
Taliban fighters searching for a Deutsche Welle journalist in Afghanistan shot dead a member of his family and seriously injured another, Germany’s international public broadcaster reported. “It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organized searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!” said Deutsche Welle Director General Peter Limbourg on Thursday.
Ward, 41, has roamed the streets of Kabul with her crew for days covering the U.S. withdrawal of troops and the Taliban’s lightning-speed takeover of the country. Her dispatches from Kabul have shed light on the chaotic nature of the U.S. pull-out, the tense mood as the Taliban retakes power and the plight of the scores of Afghan civilians looking for a way out of the country.
Safety is always a concern for journalists in unstable countries. The added element in Afghanistan now, as it was previously in Iraq, is the safety of people — not just journalists but drivers, translators and others — who helped news organizations at different points in the 20 years the United States has fought in the country.
The paper’s publisher emailed U.S. National Security adviser Jake Sullivan this morning on behalf of the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
The broadcast networks will break into their regularly scheduled programming at 3:45 p.m. ET Monday to take President Biden’s remarks from the East Room on the crisis in Afghanistan and Taliban forces having taken over the presidential palace and now the country as a whole.