A prominent CNN news anchor has blasted the Biden administration’s recent suggestion that journalists who don’t trust their claims are siding with terrorists or foreign powers, pointing out that the US government has a long history of “lying to the American people.”
The on-air criticism of the administration by Jake Tapper was prompted by two separate incidents in the past week in which White House and State Department spokespersons clearly implied that journalists challenging the validity of their official statements were siding with Washington’s enemies.
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was challenged by a reporter to offer evidence proving her claim that Daesh (ISIS) leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi had detonated himself with a suicide device during a raid by the occupying US special forces in Syria.
“As our troops approached to capture the terrorist, in a final act of desperate cowardice, with no regard to the lives of his own family or others in the building, he chose to blow himself up,” US President Joe Biden also claimed.
Psaki then suggested that the reporter, NPR’s White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe, was implying that the US military was “not providing accurate information,” while “ISIS is providing accurate information.”
Psaki to reporter asking about those "skeptical" about civilians killed in raid: "Skeptical of the U.S. military's assessment when they went and took out... the leader of ISIS, that they are not providing accurate information, and ISIS is providing accurate information?" pic.twitter.com/7g90mc1x1U— Tommy moderna-vaX-Topher (@tommyxtopher) February 3, 2022
Sources on the ground in Syria’s northwestern border town of Atmeh -- where the nighttime US raid took place -- told media outlets that at least 12 civilians were killed in the raid. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, also confirmed that six children were killed in the immediate area.
The exchange between Psaki and Rascoe onboard the presidential plane coincided with a similar argument over the reliability of information provided by the US government at the State Department, where Spokesman Ned Price claimed on Thursday that Russia was preparing to stage a ‘false flag’ attack as a pretext to invade Ukraine.
When asked by veteran Associated Press reporter Matt Lee for evidence to support the official claim, Price did not offer any evidence and in a lengthy argument went on to accuse the journalist of doubting “the credibility of the US government” and finding “solace in the information the Russians are putting out” instead.
“What the Biden administration is doing here is saying to journalists, whose jobs are to be skeptical… ‘Oh, so you side with our enemies?’,” said the CNN anchor during his news show -- ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper’ -- on Thursday, pushing back against this line from the government.
This is a pretty brutal segment on @TheLeadCNN w/@JakeTapper for the Biden administration in terms of transparency about the the U.S. Special Forces operation in Syria.— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) February 3, 2022
Here's part one with @AbbyDPhillip and @SeungMinKim (1/2) pic.twitter.com/ZJyy9S417V
“There’s a long history in this country that long predates the existence of everybody at this table…of the US Government lying to the American people,” Tapper then underlined. “Lying for the right reasons maybe, or because they had the wrong information or they’re backing their guys, but it is our job to challenge.”
During the show, CNN contributor Abby Phillip also cited US military’s drone strike in Kabul last August -- in which the administration originally claimed that Daesh terrorists were targeted but it was shortly proven that the strike had actually killed only civilians -- as an example of why journalists should question the government’s claims.
Tapper last summer described Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as “disastrous,” while his co-hosts compared the hasty withdrawal to the fall of Saigon and suggested that Biden “must feel humiliated.”
Since then, Biden’s claims have been ‘fact checked’, he’s been hounded over inflation and crime, and the network has even proposed a list of alternative candidates should the 79-year-old president decide not run for another term.
CNN also consistently challenged the Trump administration, with reporter Jim Acosta regularly engaging in verbal sparring matches with Trump during press briefings.
The mainstream and liberal news network, however, has also been heavily criticized for giving the Biden administration an easy ride, and its hosts were ridiculed by right-wing politicians and journalists for their coverage of Biden’s electoral victory, in which its hosts wept tears of joy and hailed the ‘healing’ that the Democratic president would bring to the country.