Although the U.S. exit from Afghanistan has dominated the news cycle these last few weeks, the war as a whole received "relatively little media attention in the past 20 years, especially compared to other conflicts in the region," Axios reports.
In fact, the war in Afghanistan was "the least reported war since at least WWI," said Benjamin Hopkins, a historian specializing in the history of Afghanistan at George Washington University. He purported there to be two reasons for this, both of them playing into the press' partial culpability for "what went wrong" in Afghanistan, Axios writes.
"The first is that the financial model of the press requires, at least to a certain extent, the reporting of news that will sell," said Hopkins. The second is that early media coverage of the war was "tamed" by the Department of Defense, and the press accepted such limitations.
On top of that, "domestic audiences had no interest," said Thomas Barfield, president of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies at Boston University. The story itself was tough, with "complicated and multilayered" historical, cultural, and political elements, added Hopkins.
However, he noted that politicians and officials, who didn't often invest "political capital" in the issue, also share some responsibility for the lack of coverage. "U.S. officials proved they had a poor grasp of Afghanistan culturally or politically so the press has to stand in line in terms of blame for 'why we didn't know X,'" said Barfield. Not to mention they perpetuated a "perception of progress" unsubstantiated by the reality on the ground. But when such blunders were later revealed, the press largely ignored them, Axios writes.
The bottom line? "This is a generation-long war," said Hopkins. "It is tough to maintain attention for that long." Read more at Axios.