Juan Williams on Trump’s Afghanistan trip: ‘It looks like a photo op’

December 2, 2019

Juan Williams trashed President Donald Trump’s trip to Afghanistan to visit the troops this Thanksgiving as nothing more than a “photo op.”

“It has this political spin that you put to it,” Williams said of Trump’s trip this week on Fox News Sunday, according to Breitbart. “The other part of the political spin is that with Trump, it seemed — and I think this is why you had the thought, I certainly had it — that it looks like a photo op.”

“Everything is political”

The president took troops and many in the media by surprise when he dropped in to Bagram Air Field under the cover of night on Thursday. The president served turkey to the troops and gave a rousing speech commending them for their service — but to certain pundits in the mainstream media, there was something more nefarious afoot.

Donald Trump, facing impeachment back home, was looking for a distraction with his Afghanistan trip, they said. Chris Wallace teed up Williams with that cynical take by questioning whether Trump had an ulterior motive for seeing the troops, since “everything is political.”

Williams agreed, saying that Trump appeared to have staged a “photo op” and that the president’s boasts about restarting talks with the Taliban were meaningless. Trump broke off the talks in September after the Taliban killed an American in a terrorist attack, but Trump claimed to have restarted the talks Thursday.

“Remember, he hadn’t gone to visit any war zone until last year. He was criticized for it. This is his first visit to Afghanistan, our longest war, 2,000 plus Americans dead. He had no preparation. He talked about a ceasefire, but his military people said we know nothing about any ceasefire with the Taliban, and the Taliban said they know nothing about a ceasefire,” Williams said.

Former Republican lawmaker and Fox commentator Jason Chaffetz said that Democrats, by attacking Trump for visiting the troops, were playing into Trump’s hands by making him look like a “victim” and a Washington outsider.

Cynical media bashes Trump “photo ops”

To the mainstream media, it seems like everything President Trump does is wrong — and even when Trump does something good, the media finds some cynical spin on it. Williams wasn’t the only pundit with a gloomy take on Trump’s Afghanistan trip, and of course, it’s hardly the first time the media has criticized Trump for doing a good thing.

The media has repeatedly described President Trump’s meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “photo ops,” rather than genuine efforts to normalize relations with a bellicose, unpredictable dictator. More recently, the media was downcast again when the Trump administration eliminated ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with many criticizing the way Trump reacted to the killing.

Williams, a regular critic of Trump, previously blasted the president for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban when peace talks were scuttled in September, according to Fox News. Williams now appears to be criticizing Trump for claiming that talks are back on.

“[Trump] talked about negotiations with the Taliban. And again, his own diplomats said we know nothing about any ongoing talks with the Taliban. The president canceled talks with the Taliban last September, if you recall, after they were engaged in a violent incident,” Williams said Sunday. Take a look:

But despite what Williams contends, there’s another, more reasonable explanation for Trump’s visit: Trump is a people person and he loves the troops. And whatever the media may think of the “photo op,” the troops certainly seemed to appreciate the gesture.

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.