The Western Media on the War in Afghanistan: Still Mirroring Official Views

Tabe Bergman, Fangyuan Liu

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter discusses the Western media coverage of the war in Afghanistan. After providing relevant historical background, a summary of the Afghanistan Papers and a brief discussion of the US media’s reception of the secret documents, the chapter proceeds with a synthesis of the existing academic research that has probed the Western reporting and commentary on the war. The chapter aims to gauge the extent to which the coverage diverged from or supported the official justifications for the war and more generally the propaganda disseminated by the Western powers. The chapter concludes that the Western media supported official narratives in crucial ways: by highlighting and validating the West’s story of aiming to liberate the women of Afghanistan; by glorifying the occupying soldiers and their equipment; and by using an Orientalist frame that reinforced instead of undermined stereotypes of Afghanistan. In addition, in concord with Bennett’s indexing theory, the Western coverage of the war in Afghanistan presents as yet another example of how state narratives continue to drive foreign news produced by Western mainstream media, the internet and social media notwithstanding.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJournalism and Foreign Policy
Subtitle of host publicationHow the US and UK Media Cover Official Enemies
EditorsJesse Owen Hearns-Branaman, Tabe Bergman
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003162964
ISBN (Print)9780367541378, 9780367755614
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2022


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