After several days of heavy criticism directed against President Obama’s decision to trade five of the world’s leading terror masterminds for a suspected Army deserter, America’s mainstream media, lead by its top daily newspapers, the New York Times and Washington Post, appears to be stumbling upon a narrative that provides some cover for the President.
In the last day or so, The New York Times has taken to inserting the word “aging” before almost every reference to the now-freed detainees. “Aging Taliban commanders” is how they were described on Thursday’s front page.
“Aging” detainees and “aging” prisoners are some of the other recent uses. Perhaps the sudden but regular use of the word “aging” is a conscious decision of editors, or maybe not. No matter; the implication is obvious. “Aging Taliban commanders” are far less menacing than just plain “Taliban commanders.” Whether this is a deliberate attempt to minimize their potential risk as re-engaged terrorists and thus relieve some of the pressure now placed on President Obama will likely never be known.
The Times also seems to be investing reportorial resources into buttressing administration claims that Bergdahl’s “deteriorating medical condition” made the swap urgent after the Taliban released a propaganda video of Bergdahl’s hand-off which showed him dazed but otherwise in apparent good health.
Boasting of interviews with “more than a dozen American and foreign officials,” the Times credits the administration’s claim that time was running out for Bergdahl after watching a video released by his captures that showed him “weak and dazed.” Even days after Bergdahl’s successful return to US custody, the White House still refused to release the alleged “secret” video. No mention is made of the six-month gap between seeing the alleged “secret video” and the swap. If Bergdahl’s condition was so ominous, why did the White House wait six months before completing the exchange?
Meanwhile, the Washington Post, still a very harsh critic of the deal, is nonetheless promoting criticism of the critics of the deal. Thursday, Post columnist Dana Milbank, a normally reliable Obama sycophant, goes so far as to accuse Republicans of creating the Bergdahl scandal.
Nonetheless, it was the Washington Post that directly contradicted the President’s own new narrative-shaping attempt that it has always been a “sacred obligation” for the United States to spare no effort to ensure the return of all those left behind “no matter the circumstances” of how or why they were left behind.
“Past presidents,” the Washington Post reminded its readers, “have often treated confirmed deserters more harshly, even when they’ve been held prisoner. Charles Robert Jenkins spent four decades in North Korea after abandoning his post in the demilitarized zone. When he returned to the United States in 2004, he served nearly a month in the brig and failed to receive a welcome-home call from President Bush. Pvt. Eddie Slovik – who left combat duty in France in 1944 – was shot by a firing squad after Gen. Dwight Eisenhower declined to grant him leniency.”