- CNN Communications defended a reporter against Sen. Ted Cruz’s criticism.
- Cruz, R-Texas judged journalist Clarissa Ward for covering her head while reporting in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- CNN accused Cruz of ‘running off to Cancun during tough times.’
CNN’s public relations arm slammed Sen. Ted Cruz Monday for criticizing a journalist as she reported from Kabul, Afghanistan while wearing a head covering and accusing her of cheerleading for the Taliban.
Afghanistan’s capital city was overrun by members of Islamic fundamentalist group the Taliban Monday as the U.S. military began pulling out of the country, ending a 20-year war.
In an eight-second video clip retweeted by Cruz, R-Texas, CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward reported Taliban insurgents were “chanting ‘death to America’,but they seem friendly at the same time.” She called the behavior “utterly bizarre.”
“Is there an enemy of America for whom @CNN WON’T cheerlead? (In mandatory burkas, no less.),” Cruz tweeted.
CNN defended Ward while calling out Cruz for “running off to Cancun during tough times.” Cruz and his family traveled to the Mexican resort town earlier this yearas Texans faced a brutal winter storm that left millions without power and saw more than 200 people dead.
“Rather than running off to Cancun in tough times, @clarissaward is risking her life to tell the world what’s happening,” the verified CNN Communications twitter account responded. “That’s called bravery. Instead of RTing a conspiracy theorist’s misleading soundbite, perhaps your time would be better spent helping Americans in harm’s way.”
In the full segment that ran Monday on CNN’s “New Day,” Ward travels around Kabul, interviewing members of the Taliban and Kabul residents. Ordinary Afghans tell her they are struggling to process the rapid occupation and are afraid of what comes next. Others are petrified to leave their homes for fear of being targeted by the insurgents.
Ward is not wearing a “burka” — a head-to-toe garment worn by women in the region — as Cruz stated, though her head and neck are covered.
USA TODAY reached out to Cruz for comment.
Phil Mattingly, CNN senior White House correspondent, also fired back at Cruz on Twitter Monday.
“Such courage here, firing off an out of context and remarkably out of touch tweet from the safety of one’s summer recess,” Mattingly tweeted along with a link to Ward’s full, nearly seven-minute reporting segment.
Women, who are fiercely oppressed under Taliban rule, have taken to dressing more conservatively now that the fundamentalist group has regained power, Ward reported.
“I am dressed in a very different way to how I would normally dress to walk down the streets of Kabul,” she said.
Reach Chelsey Cox on Twitter @therealco.