CNN Reporter Clarissa Ward Talks Taliban, Kabul, Sean Hannity

Mariana Salvo

When CNN’s Clarissa Ward approached a Taliban fighter on the streets of Kabul on Wednesday, a gunshot rang out behind her. If you observed this on Anderson Cooper’s nightly exhibit, you may well have missed her flinch. It was transient. Delicate. Her emphasis remained squarely on the team of Taliban fighters in front of her, like a man who shoved his hand ahead to protect her cameraman’s lens and waved a whip designed of weighty chain and a padlock. The chaotic scene, he told her, is America’s fault.

As he spoke, Ward found his eyes. They look dazed, she explained to me. Was he higher, whether or not from a narcotic or pure adrenaline? She wondered.

All of a sudden, he stated he did not want to converse to her, and she calmly walked away. A further man walked up to request Ward for tips on how to get out. As she tried using to remedy him, additional gunshots. These had been louder. This time her flinch was more seen. But her voice was amount as additional adult men in the group arrived up to clearly show her their paperwork, describing they’ve worked as translators and are determined for support to leave the place. The Taliban fighter with whom she 1st spoke, the a single with the makeshift whip, pushed past them, releasing the security of his AK-47, threatening to shoot into the crowd.

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“I appear serene, but that does not imply I am tranquil,” Ward, 41, reported in excess of the cellphone in between shooting and modifying on Thursday afternoon Eastern Daylight Time. (It was practically 10pm in Kabul.) “I really do not panic because you can not panic in all those cases. If you are somebody who panics, then you in all probability should be accomplishing a unique career, since it will get you into far more trouble. But it does not signify I’m relaxed on the inside of. That’s just the way I offer with dread: I get peaceful and very concentrated.”

What we didn’t see on digicam was Ward, her cameraman, and her producer striving to transfer away from the fighter with the AK-47. Every time they relocated, he followed. When they finally moved via the crowd to place house involving them selves and the Taliban fighter, two unique adult males approached them, threatening to pistol whip Ward’s producer, Brent Swails, who was filming with his Apple iphone.

When I requested if she feared for her safety in that moment, Ward paused, thinking about the query. “At the minute exactly where they ended up about to hit Brent, I did. It is the Taliban, it is not like you’re dealing with a drive in which there is recourse. It was mayhem.”

Ward, CNN’s chief global correspondent, has worked 19-hour times for the a few weeks she’s been in Afghanistan. As chaos has unfolded with the Taliban’s takeover, Ward has been a almost regular presence on the news community, often filming in the middle of the chaos on the streets, providing a rare look at the occasions on the floor in Kabul.

Clarissa Ward reporting for CNN on the streets of Kabul. “I will not panic,” the CNN reporter reported, “but it isn’t going to indicate I am calm on the inside of.”


The reporting excursion wasn’t supposed to unfold this way. When Ward arrived in Afghanistan just about a month back, she prepared to go over gains the Taliban was making and film a couple of reflective segments as the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th assaults approached. She even introduced a e-book to read through in the off hrs of her vacation. That modified this week when the Taliban seized power of Afghanistan two weeks right before the United States was established to entire its troop withdrawal.

“My producer noticed the ebook very last night time and questioned, ‘You’re truly looking through this?’ And I was like: ‘No. A minimal bit in the beginning, but not any longer,’” Ward stated with a snicker. “I had a instant the other day—maybe this is TMI—when I experienced no thought the final time I washed my hair. I just never have time to wash my hair proper now. You get to the conclude of that previous Anderson Cooper are living shot and it’s like yeah…” She trailed off with a further giggle.

On All Fronts: The Education and learning of a Journalist

For 15 yrs, Ward has noted from the entrance strains in Syria, Iraq, and Ga through the Russian incursion. It was 9/11 that led her to conflict reporting. She was a college student at Yale learning comparative literature with programs to come to be an actress when the assaults happened. Immediately after the assault, she was drawn to comprehension what led to this horrific occasion. “I really desired to be at the tip of the spear,” she claimed although endorsing her modern memoir, On All Fronts.

A yr and a half ago, Ward spent 36 hours driving Taliban traces in northern Afghanistan, so, by the Afghan filmmaker with whom she was doing work, Ward experienced an “open line” to the Taliban though planning her present trip. “They had certain us that we would be risk-free and that we could hold carrying out our work reporting,” she explained. “But of course in those hours, when it became distinct Kabul experienced fallen and there was gunfire, you dread for your basic safety since you do not know what’s heading to take place.”

In Kabul on Wednesday, a Taliban fighter ordered her to go over her facial area as she spoke to him in the course of a are living phase, to which she complied. She has lined her hair fully with an abaya, which is much more conservative than she’s dressed although reporting in Afghanistan in the past.

“It’s challenging sufficient to communicate to them as a female less than usual situation, enable by itself if you are making an attempt to push the envelope in phrases of what they deem appropriate,” she reported. “I’ll wear whatever I have to have to dress in to get the tale … I just never want my garments to be a distraction. I want to be ready to do my work.”

clarissa ward
Ward has been masking her hair even though reporting in Afghanistan.


So significantly, the Taliban has not provided any unique directives about principles for coverage. She’s been equipped to interview whoever she wishes without the need of limitations, however she thinks it is probable that will modify. “I don’t assume they’ve had time to aim on that however, but this definitely feels like a bit of a honeymoon period,” she reported. “It’s one point for the leadership to say you can do your career if you want, but when you are working with the rank-and-file troopers it can be a distinctive story. “

“With all the stuff on Twitter, whether or not it can be great or poor, it is really all a distraction. I just really do not have significantly time for it.”

Before in the 7 days, as the Taliban took command of Kabul, Ward’s reporting drew the criticism of some on the correct, like Sean Hannity. The Fox News host shared on Twitter a truncated edition of a estimate Ward employed in describing the ambiance in the town.

“CNN REPORTER: ‘They’re Chanting Death to America, But They Feel Welcoming at the Very same Time,’” Hannity tweeted. Senator Ted Cruz piled on, tweeting, “Is there an enemy of The united states for whom @CNN Won’t cheerlead?”

Here’s what Ward claimed:

This is a sight I actually imagined I would by no means see: Scores of Taliban fighters and just guiding us, the U.S. Embassy compound. Some carry American weapons. They convey to us they’re in this article to maintain legislation and get. Every little thing is underneath management. Anything will be great, the commander states, no person ought to be concerned.

What is your information to The us proper now? The usa previously used more than enough time in Afghanistan. They will need to depart, he tells us. They already shed heaps of lives and tons of cash.

People today arrive up to them to pose for photos. They are just chanting loss of life to The united states, but they feel helpful at the very same time. It is completely strange.

“With all the stuff on Twitter,” Ward told me, “whether it is fantastic or bad, it is all a distraction. So for me ideal now, anything which is distracting from what is heading on in this article and the distress and the desperation, I just don’t have considerably time for it.”

The exhaustion in Ward’s voice is very clear as she walks me by way of her times over the previous a few weeks: Wake up early in the non-public compound wherever they are remaining, go out to shoot footage, search for great areas for dwell pictures in the street, return to their non-public compound, edit jointly a story (or “crash a deal,” as Ward claimed deploying Television information jargon), go live till 5 in the early morning their time, which is key-time in the U.S.

Her family looking at at home is applied to her heading to perilous spots. They have faith in that she’s not “a large adrenaline junkie or a cowboy,” she said, but by this stage, they are ready for her to arrive home, which is not a straight-forward thing. She explained the organizing for getting her and her crew out of the region as “a Rubik’s dice.”

clarissa ward
“I’m missing my 1-year-previous and 3-12 months-aged,” Ward reported. “So, it is almost certainly time for me to get out and just take a minimal little bit of a crack in the not-so-distant upcoming.”


“There’s a good deal of considered and planning that desires to go into it since it is very intricate, it is not a straight-ahead factor,” she claimed. “This is why it is so essential to have actually superior crew customers and security consultants who invest a whole lot of time setting up this sort of stuff for the reason that you can’t get it erroneous.”

And she’s just about all set to go.

“We’re searching into inevitably swapping out teams in the near long run. Not so a great deal due to the fact of the safety situation, but for the reason that I’ve been below just about a few months now and I’m performing 19 hour times each individual one day and I’m just actually, actually, truly beat,” Ward stated. “I’m missing my 1-year-previous and 3-yr-old. So, it is possibly time for me to get out and just take a minimal bit of a split in the not-so-distant foreseeable future.”

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