President Biden took questions for roughly 90 minutes during a highly publicized, although low-rated, CNN town hall event on Thursday, but nobody bothered to ask the commander-in-chief about the botched withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
“How Anderson Cooper — who has won awards for his reporting from war zones including Afghanistan — felt no need to ask even one question on Afghanistan is telling. Former CNNer Jen Psaki and current chief comms adviser to the president had to be pleased,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha said.
“The White House clearly got what it wanted from CNN, which isn’t remotely a shell of the once-proud news brand it once was,” Concha added.
Critics have faulted Biden for holding to an arbitrary Aug. 31 deadline for the removal of U.S. troops, even though it seemed unlikely the military would be able to withdraw all troops and civilians by that time.
Biden infamously assured Americans that the Taliban would not storm the U.S. Embassy in Kabul the same way the North Vietnamese stormed the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975. However, events disproved this confident prediction, as footage of Kabul eerily echoed Saigon.
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a Fox News contributor and former acting national security advisor to President Trump, told Fox News at the time that Biden owns the Afghanistan withdrawal disaster, and that the Afghan power vacuum Biden left behind is “much worse” than the power vacuum in Iraq that spawned the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
However, Biden has been reluctant to answer questions from reporters who might ask about the chaotic withdrawal. In August, he famously blew off a question about Afghanistan after offering to take inquries at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters during comments about Hurricane Ida.
“I’m not supposed to take any questions, but go ahead,” Biden told Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs.
Jacobs began, “Mr. President, on Afghanistan—”
“I’m not gonna answer on Afghanistan now,” Biden interjected before walking away from the podium.
CNN had the chance to question Biden about the ordeal on Thursday but apparently didn’t find it necessary.
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was reported earlier this week that the State Department‘s inspector general is launching a series of investigations into the Biden administration’s last diplomatic moves in Afghanistan. The reviews will focus on the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa program, Afghans processed for refugee admission into the U.S., resettlement of refugees and visa recipients, and the emergency evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, according to an Oct. 15 memo to Secretary of State Blinken first reported by Politico and confirmed by Fox News.
Of the 12 participants who were able to ask questions during CNN’s event, seven were identified as Democrats, three were identified as Independents and only two were identified as Republicans. The first Republican, who asked Biden why he hadn’t been to the southern border, wasn’t introduced by Cooper until within the final 20 minutes of the event.
The second Republican, who was the last participant to ask a question, asked the president how he’ll keep up with the Chinese military amid news of their hypersonic missile testing if he’d vow to protect Taiwan.
CNN’s town hall with President Biden didn’t help the struggling network in the ratings department, as the event averaged 1.2 million viewers to finish behind both Fox News and MSNBC from 8-9:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. During the same time period, Fox News averaged 2.8 million viewers and MSNBC averaged 1.4 million.
Fox News’ Joseph W. Wulfsohn and Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report.