Clarissa Ward described on 18 August how a member of her CNN (US-based Cable News Network) crew was nearly pistol-whipped (hit by the hard material of a pistol) by a Taliban terrorist as they were covering a tumultuous scene outside the airport in Kabul.
“I’ve covered all sorts of crazy situations,” Ward said in a report aired on CNN. “This was mayhem. This was nuts.”
The CNN’s chief international correspondent has been probably the most visible reporter covering the rapid fall of Afghanistan to Taliban terrorists. Perhaps inevitably, that has made her words and even her wardrobe a topic of social media conversation.
In one report Wednesday, Ward said it was extremely chaotic near the airport, where people were pleading for help to get out of the country. At one point, she said, a Taliban terrorist shouted at her to cover her face or he wouldn’t talk to her. He was carrying a makeshift whip with a heavy chain and padlock.
The CNN producer, Brent Swails, was taking video with a cellphone when two Taliban terrorists approached him with their pistols and seemed about to strike him, Ward said, making a motion with her arms to simulate it.
Another Taliban terrorist stopped them, saying not to hit him because they’re journalists, she said.
“It’s very dicey, it’s very dangerous,” Ward said. “It’s completely unpredictable. To me, it’s a miracle that more people haven’t been seriously hurt.”
Ward has been work ing with CNN since 2015 when she left CBS News. She has worked also in ABC News and Fox News, covering a succession of the world’s hot spots.
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz tweeted a portion of one of Ward’s Monday reports, where she described an “utterly bizarre” scene of people shouting “death to America” while also appearing friendly.
“Is there an enemy of America for whom @CNN won’t cheerlead?” Cruz tweeted.
That earned him a sharp Twitter response from CNN’s public relations department: “Rather than running off to Cancun in tough times, @clarissaward is risking her life to tell the world what’s happening. That’s called bravery.” It was a reference to Cruz’s Mexican vacation during a cold spell last winter that caused widespread power outages in Texas.
An Internet meme showcased pictures of Ward during two different reports this week, one where she wore a tight black headdress that covered her hair, and another where her hair was uncovered.
Some on social media suggested the two pictures illustrated a contrast in life before and after Taliban rule. Rep. Vicki Hartzler, a Missouri Republican, said they showcased “just how crushing Joe Biden’s incompetence will be for the future of Afghan women.”
Ward has explained that the picture without her head covered was taken while she was in a private compound. When she was in public amid Taliban terrorists, she dressed more conservatively.
“My job is to get out on the streets and hear what people are thinking and see what’s going on,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press this week. “So I have to be willing to wear whatever it takes, honestly, to be able to go out and do my job and respect the tradition of whatever culture it is I’m reporting from.”