ABC News has been accused of editing its Wednesday night interview with Joe Biden to paint the president in a better light by removing mumbled statements and lapses of memory.
Biden’s interview with George Stephanopoulos was criticized for his claim that the chaos in Afghanistan this week was inevitable. When the full transcript was published on Thursday by ABC, it emerged that chunks of it were edited out. Biden falsely claimed that his son Beau, who died of a brain tumor in May 2015, aged 46, had served in Afghanistan. He then corrected himself and said it was Iraq, but he also claimed Beau was in the Navy, when in fact he was in the Army. The president again had to correct himself.
“Toward the end of his interview with ABC there was a telling exchange,” said Tucker Carlson, Fox News host, on Thursday evening. “That exchange was never broadcast on camera. Now television networks edit interviews very often for time. But ABC News appears to have edited out portions that made Joe Biden look – how to put it. Not presidential. Incoherent. Confused.” Carlson then read from the transcript.
Asked by Stephanopoulos why the U.S. could not have withdrawn from Afghanistan with dignity, Biden’s response was jumbled. “Look, that’s like askin’ my deceased son Beau, who spent six months in Kosovo and a year in Iraq as a Navy captain and then major, I mean, as an Army major,” Biden said. “And, you know, I’m sure h– he had regrets comin’ out of Afganista– I mean, out of Iraq. He had regrets to what’s– how– how it’s going. But the idea– what’s the alternative? The alternative is why are we staying in Afghanistan? Why are we there?”
Republican lawmakers are now demanding the ABC release the full footage of Biden’s interview. Rep. Jim Banks, who is an Afghanistan veteran, tweeted: “@abc should release the tape now! American lives are at stake. America deserves to know if their Commander in Chief is up for the job.”
When he was asked about the “pandemonium” outside Kabul airport in recent days, Biden claimed during the interview, which was filmed on Wednesday afternoon that “no one’s being killed right now.” Officials said on Monday there had been five deaths amid the chaos at Kabul’s airport when thousands of Afghans rushed onto the tarmac to try and board US military planes. The officials updated that figure to 12 deaths on Thursday.
Biden also appeared to inflate troop numbers in Afghanistan but deflate the number of troops in Syria during the interview, according to the Washington Post. The president referenced the 300,000 Afghan troops the US had been training but a 2021 report from the International Institute of Strategic Studies found Afghanistan has an active force of 178,800.
Biden also suggested there was no US military presence in Syria. A senior Biden administration officials told Politico last month that there were 900 troops stationed in Syria and that they are likely to remain there for the foreseeable future.