AP reporter says Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal ‘punctured the appearance… of competence’
AUSTIN, TX – Associated Press correspondent Seung Min Kim said President Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 “punctured the appearance” that his administration was competent.
During a panel discussion on how journalists cover the Biden administration at the 2023 Texas Tribune Festival, Kim was among White House correspondents who were asked to comment about the significance of the president’s exit from Afghanistan, which included the terror attack at the Kabul airport that resulted in the murder of 13 U.S. service members.
“It was a turning point for the administration in a lot of ways… and the president has defended this through and through,” Kim began Saturday. “He has said that this was something that was already- this kind of process was something that was already in place because of something set up under the Trump administration. He was determined to end America’s longest war. But one of the biggest problems beyond just the tragic loss of lives and the chaotic ness of the withdrawal is that it really punctured the appearance of Biden and his administration as one of competence.”
“[Biden] ran on kind of restoring normalcy, restoring institutions, restoring competence in government, in which would have been a very big contrast from the Trump years. But when you look at TV, you see a withdrawal that was not handled in the way that it should have. You see the chaos, you see the death. That is not the image of, basically, of a competent White House,” she continued.
The White House correspondent pointed out how there hasn’t been a “reckoning” from the Biden administration, pointing to the report released earlier this year that blamed the Trump administration for the turmoil that unfolded several months after Biden took office.
“I remember being in the briefing room that day, and we were questioning the national security spokesman John Kirby over and over, like this doesn’t actually lay out where things went wrong with this administration,” Kim said. “And first of all, some of the information that could illuminate more what happened you decided to keep it private, not really disclose it. That’s fine. It’s classified information. But even to this year, there just hasn’t- it has been a really big black mark for the administration in so many ways.”
Kim also alluded to the fact that Biden’s polling went underwater in the days following the Afghanistan withdrawal and has remained upside down ever since.
Fellow panelist, New York Times correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs, added that Democrats have told him that the Afghanistan withdrawal was “one of the darkest periods for the president and the administration” and highlighted the thousands of Afghan interpreters and allies who were stranded as Hamas took control the war-torn country.
The White House did not immediately respond to FOX News’ request for comment.
Earlier in the panel discussion, the White House correspondents were asked about the president’s lack of availability to the press in comparison to his predecessor former President Trump, who constantly took questions from reporters when he was in office.
Kanno-Youngs took a swipe at Biden for being overly-selective when it came to granting interviews.
“They pretty much made it clear that I don’t think they – they see that they may be meeting that standard by putting the president up for interviews with, I would say, friendly talk show hosts and maybe getting their message out on social media,” Kanno-Youngs said.
He continued, “Their kind of priority is going to get their message out for the agenda and to galvanize voters. Our priority is going to be to ask them tough questions and hold them to account. And I think there’s still value in putting a president up against a reporter from any of our outlets. And if you don’t, you know, if you create a void of information, other people are going to fill it with their assumptions, which I think is factored in a bit into questions over whether this is actually a strategy, whether this is potentially protecting him away from reporters.”
As Kanno-Youngs alluded to, Biden’s most recent interviews have been friendly ones, beginning in June with a rare live sitdown with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, one in July with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and last month with The Weather Channel.
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