People die. Every day. It’s our lot. Some deaths attract more attention than others. Sometimes for good reasons. Sometimes for nefarious and dishonest ones.
The largest metropolitan U.S. cities see deadly violence every weekend. And those run by the Democratic Party for the last several decades are especially prone to it. Recently, Baltimore witnessed seven murders in less than 24 hours. How much coverage does the Washington Post or CNN give those murders? In fact, New York City made headlines this week for having had the first homicide-free weekend in 25 years. This was news because it is so anomalous. How perverse.
So what about Jamal Khashoggi? Yes, it is now clear that Saudi Arabian man was murdered. But what are the facts of his death and do they matter to you? Or to America?
First things first. It is important to understand that Khashoggi—whose name the mainstream media seems to be having such difficulty pronouncing, even though no one had any difficulty for decades with his uncle Adnan Khashoggi, the late billionaire arms dealer—was neither an American nor was he strictly speaking a journalist.
Khashoggi was a Saudi national who recently moved to the United States. How a man with his past obtained a green card from the State Department is another interesting question, and more on that momentarily.
Secondly, he was not a journalist. At least not in any conventional sense of the word.
Journalists have a beat. Journalists are accredited and cover news stories, from the local police blotter to the White House. Khashoggi was a newly minted U.S.-based commentator, an opinion piece writer, after having spent much of his life as a subject about which journalists write (he was a friend of the Osama bin Laden family and an activist for a decidedly dark cause). To call him a journalist would be just a wrong as calling me a journalist on account of the opinion pieces I write.
So, ask yourself, why does the mainstream media complex almost exclusively refer to him as a journalist?
These may seem to be technical mistakes but when added to the hagiography and selective coverage of Khashoggi’s past now flooding the media, it is obvious this is no accident.
Take the U.S. newspaper where Khashoggi had published his commentary, the Washington Post. With a straight face its employees have lavished praise on the missing Saudi national, lauding him as a champion of free speech and democracy.
“Free speech” and “democracy?” This is a man who was a fully paid up member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological mothership that gave us Hamas, al-Qaeda, and, eventually, the Islamic State. He is the same man who, under the banner of his organization, DAWN (Democracy for the Arab World), was providing the glide path for Islamists to pervert and subvert any nascent structures of representative government in the Middle East. Shades of Orwell and 1984’s “War is Peace” Newspeak. But this time it’s “Democracy is Salafist Theocracy.”
None of the above can be used to justify torture, let alone an extrajudicial execution by an international hit squad. But they are facts that the media is failing to report, or worse, intentionally keeping from the American people. And they are facts that bear directly on the question of how the Trump Administration should respond to the death of this foreign national who was killed on foreign soil.
In addition to “lapses” in honest coverage there is the question of professionalism and balance among the media.
Some may have become inured to the precipitous drop in media ethics and journalistic tradecraft since our 45th president’s inauguration, which brings us now to an age in which all you need is one anonymous “source” to build a story attacking the Trump Administration and a market in which more than 90 percent of media coverage about President Trump is negative. But the depths to which media brand-names have sunken would embarrass a high-school newspaper.
Allegedly serious outlets are publishing stories about the Khashoggi death relying on little more than hearsay, as in “someone who spoke to a Turkish official who knows someone who heard the audio of . . .” As far as “journalism” goes, this is laughable, especially when one considers the Turkish government and what Erdogan has wrought as he tries turn Turkey into his own neo-Ottoman play thing, imprisoning thousands along the way, including more journalists than any other government in the world.
And as to balance and perspective, well, the mainstream media hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory here either.
I hereby challenge a budding cub reporter or journalism student—ideally, one who is not afraid of being fired or given an “F”—to author a comparative study. Question: How many column-inches have already been expended on this one foreign death overseas in the past three days, versus those dedicated to the deaths of four American nationals, including a serving ambassador, in the whole month after the Benghazi attack in September 2012?
Or—and here let’s ignore the conspiracy theorists and stick to major outlets—as former CNN defense correspondent and radio host Chris Plante has recently asked, how many hours of TV coverage have already been broadcast on Khashoggi’s fate as opposed to Seth Rich’s murder? Rich, after all, was an American working at the center of American politics who was killed in the nation’s capital. It would be safe to say that CNN and MSNBC have already dedicated more air-time this week to one Saudi national’s death in Turkey than to Rich’s July 2016 murder. Why? Well, because the media has an agenda. It has an axe to grind.
In accord with some simplistic mathematics of political revenge, these outlets must attack President Trump for his deft, devastating, and repeated use of the moniker #FAKENEWS. These “journalists,” 90 percent of whom admit to being left-wing, can’t stand having their integrity impugned by a successful president who—unlike the GOP establishment for far too long—simply does not care what they say about him or anything else. They see the Khashoggi story as the perfect cudgel with which to bash Donald J. Trump and so regain their vaunted status. “See! See! He gives us no respect and then this is what his allies do!” And that is how an insalubrious pro-Brotherhood Saudi agitator magically becomes a “U.S. journalist who championed democracy.”
When I served in the White House, many in the press team considered my treatment of the media strange, even unseemly. I had no interest in talking on or off record to most who call themselves “journalists.” Especially if they worked for the Washington Post or the New York Times. Why? Simple. I don’t help those who are enemies of the MAGA agenda and who have lost all professional scruples and see it as their duty to lie about and undermine a duly elected president simply because they voted for his rival.
Khashoggi did not deserve to be killed. At the same time, in their coverage of his murder, the majority of the American media has proven that they do not deserve America’s respect.
Photo Credit: Aditya Irawan/NurPhoto via Getty Images