‘Why Isn’t ‘Afghanistand’ Leading The News?’ Sky’s Coverage Of US Troop Withdrawal Is Going About As Well As You’d Expect



As distressing scenes emerge from Afghanistan of a panicked population trying to flee slaughter, it’s comforting to know that Sky News has worked out who is to blame. Chris Graham suspends reason and accountability to bring you this special report.

Sky News Australia abandoned any pretence of trying to appear rational, logical or balanced quite a few years ago. Now, they’re pretty much just filming the misfiring synapses of foaming conservatives, and then putting it to air.

Even so, as a small but loud cog in News Corporation’s ‘drums of war machine’, it’s still been fascinating to watch them twist themselves in knots over Afghanistan and the disastrous withdrawal of troops from a 20-year lost war, while managing to stay on script.

Former Abbott government cat-herder Peta Credlin, long considered one of the world’s leading defence experts, opens her deeply knowledgeable and astute rant overnight by getting the name of the country we attacked wrong.

“It is Afghanistand (sic) that should be leading the news tonight here, and in any country that values its freedoms,” unleashed Credlin.

I couldn’t agree more. Everyone needs to just Chile the fuck out, Jamaica a cup of coffee, and join a Taliband or something.

Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. Although in Sky’s defence, it’s not as much of a mistake as you might think. The ‘Budget-outrage news model’ is meant to look exactly like this – you’re not there to provide information or analysis, you’re just there to make noise. Fuck up the name of a country you’re pretending to give a shit about? Meh, move on, we do everything in one take at Sky News.

But back over to Credlin, who asks herself the hard-hitting questions… and keeps coming up with the wrong answers.

“This whole sorry mess itself was foreseeable, given the cocked-up withdrawal of the Biden administration. As people said the instant it was announced, who gives a terrorist enemy your departure date?”

Excellent question, Peta… although you’re not going to like the answer because it certainly wasn’t dithering Joe Biden. He announced in April this year that US troops would be out by no later than September 11 (he actually wanted them out by the end of August).

The only person who set an actual day-specific deadline was… Donald J. Trump. He negotiated May 1, 2021 with the Taliban in February 2020…. i.e. he negotiated a peace agreement with, what’s that phrase again Peta… ‘a terrorist enemy’.

This was about six months before Trump announced a new, updated withdrawal date – December 25 (he dropped that pearler via Twitter in October, as he languished in the polls in the lead-up to the US presidential election).

And as you might expect, all of this seemed lost on Credlin: “The fall of Kabul in the past 24 hours is a catastrophe. It’s truly diabolical for the people of Afghanistan. It’s a devastating blow for the families and mates of the Australian soldiers killed there. [insert sad face emoji, turd face emoji, then another sad face emoji].”

Indeed it is. But no soooo diabolical that it’s above politicking, right? Of course, Credlin is an amateur in that regard when set against the likes of other Sky commentators, who’ve had a lot longer to practice on-camera ‘faux outrage’.

This interview yesterday, entitled “It’s time to ‘cut our losses’ in Afghanistan as ‘the game is over’”, perhaps best sums up how utterly oblivious (not to mention unashamed) Sky has become of its own bullshit…. (and yeah, given the Taliban has been camped out in the presidential palace in the capital Kabul for a couple of days, and also has control of the entire country, probably a good idea to “cut our losses”… great call Sky).

Paul Murray is interviewing Catherine McGregor, one of Tony Abbott’s old mates and a former middle-ranking soldier in the Australian Army (later Air Force).

Says Murray: “The fundamental failures of how these final moments happened, they are on Biden’s watch. Now yes, there was a trickle down for a long time, Obama at one point, they’ve all wanted to get out, Biden’s the one who has to wear how they got out though, doesn’t he?”

Murray has apparently drunk so much News Corp Cool-Aid that he can’t even utter Republican names anymore, when apportioning blame for wholesale slaughter. Quite apart from the fact that his question is not a question – it’s a statement with a question mark sheepishly inserted at the end – the phrase ‘they’ve all wanted to get out’ appears to be a reference from Murray to the… other two war-time presidents, Republican George W. Bush and Donald Trump. You remember them… the one who started the war, and then the one who declared it over before he left office?

Murray’s ‘questionment’ drew this response from McGregor, who appears to have also received the memo from Rupert: “Yep, I think Paul, that the absolute folly of telegraphing the withdrawal to the anniversary of September 11, I found that a bewildering decision….”

Did you really Cate? Bewildering? Or did you just make that up?

Joe Biden is a war hawk and undeniably a dithering fool. With almost five decades in government he’s about as responsible for the wholesale slaughter by US forces of innocent people all over the world as anyone. But that’s kind of the point. The withdrawal from Afghanistan IS an unmitigated clusterf*ck, so you don’t need to embellish the story. Just report the facts.

Like this statement from Donald Trump in April, about him telegraphing the US withdrawal for May 1, after telegraphing one for December 25.



Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.