Home / News / 🇸🇦Jamal Khashoggi, Mohammed bin Salman and the media | The Listening Post (Lead)

🇸🇦Jamal Khashoggi, Mohammed bin Salman and the media | The Listening Post (Lead)

It has been two weeks since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a insider-turned-critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), has disappeared after walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The Khashoggi story not only sends a chilling message to independent Saudi voices everywhere, it takes Mohammed bin Salman’s well-known intolerance for internal criticism, and the House of Saud’s utter ambivalence to the disapproval of outsiders to a new level.

And it provides yet more evidence of the folly of some in the western media commentariat who have bought into the image of MBS as an enlightened prince and reformer.

“There’s different dimensions to this,” explains Rami Khouri, professor of journalism at the American University of Beirut. “But they all come together in the fact that the current Saudi government has clamped down really hard on … any kind of independent opinion that is not completely echoing the government line. They don’t like it. And they’re trying to stop it.”

News of Khashoggi’s disappearance was initially greeted by silence from the Saudi Arabian government and the media outlets it controls. The story was being driven from Turkey, but not at the political level. The anonymous sources quoted in the Turkish media, the ones who reportedly described an “assassination squad” of 15 Saudis landing on two private jets that same day, were from Turkish police and intelligence.

It was not until day five that the first real signs of a counter-narrative emerged in the Saudi media space – offering a number of possible culprits, none of whom happened to be Saudi.

While Saudi attempts to hijack the online narrative on this story have proven ineffective, past charm offensives aimed at the Western mainstream media have not.

MBS effectively took power fewer than 18 months ago with promises of reform, including his decision to finally allow Saudi women to drive, along with a carefully choreographed media tour in the US. News outlets that are usually sceptical of Saudi propaganda, including The BBC, the Guardian, The Washington Post and the NYT, bought in, producing positive stories and editorials.

“You really have to believe that some of it was a willful ignorance,” says journalist Sarah Aziza. “Thomas Friedman calling MBS the ’embodiment’ of Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, deliberately ignoring the obvious violations of these principles in the arrests of journalists and the crackdown on women activists and other illiberal policies that MBS oversaw.”

According to Khouri, “The lesson of this is don’t fall for these propaganda campaigns when they are presented by Arab governments or any government. Demand facts, demand proof and judge people on their actions and not just their nice words. This is a lesson for journalists everywhere.”

The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi will resonate with journalists and all kinds of other voices – from activists to dissidents to would-be revolutionaries – and not just in the Middle East.

“Authoritarian governments the world over and even democratic countries as well make these choices. The silencing of voices, the silencing of journalists seems to be a top priority for many governments around the world from the US to Russia to the Arab world,” says Omar al-Ghazzi, assistant professor of media at the London School of Economics.

Rami Khouri – Professor of journalism, American University, Beirut
Omar al-Ghazzi – Assistant professor of media, London School of Economics
Sarah Aziza – Journalist
Ahmad bin Said – Media scholar and columnist

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  1. Good guys Turkey the Journalists loving nation may all praise be😁

  2. Blokade against Saudi Arabia! never forgive! never forget! we didn't forget 9/11

  3. A voice has been silenced in Nigeria too… His name is Brandi Kanu

  4. He was far too opinionated instead of being an neutral reporter as he should be. Much like a referee in a match must not play favorites….he has chosen to take sides against his leader and this was a problem for the Saudis. His disappearance serves as a reminder to any other journalists that may oppose the Saudi governments direction. I trust the governments vision over this man's vision…wouldn't you? Or would you rather disassemble the government and have this man make all of your decisions?

  5. This must have been executed by the US and now Saudi Arabia and Turkey will now fight among themselves. . This is all America's Propaganda

  6. Salman bin Shaytan is the godfather of the Arabs and he is just getting rid of his rivals who have been skimming of money from his illegal casino and bootlegging operations.. the land has lot more than just oil buried in the sands of Arabia… 😟😟😟🤔🤔🤔

  7. الاشتراك بحملة نيك الاخونجيه الكلاب عبيد اردغان الجرار القبوري

  8. Saudi Arabia Emirates Dubai turkey Pakistan we are one nation and we sport Saudi Arabia king Sulman. Muslims zinda bad

  9. WOW…………They were dropping Bombs in Schools and Mosques all over Yemen killing Innocent kids and we are all of the Sudden surprised that they Killed and Chopped a Disgruntled Journalist that used to work for them in the Past……..?        If we keep adding the Numbers the house of Saud led by junior salman had already Beheaded 3 times more Innocent Civilians than that of Al- Nusra and ISIS combined together……….This is as Evil as it Gets………………….Selah

  10. Wtf , now trying to blame Turkey for what happened to him? Everyone knows that spoiled prince Salman responsible for his death and also Trump and his government responsible for it since they fully support prince Salman and his past, current and futures bloodshed. What is gonna happen now? A few Saudi officials will be blamed for his death and the case will close. He will continue killing innocents like killing flies and USA will continue support him. Curse you prince Salman and his supporter Trumps government.

  11. Saudi barbaria are ones that spread salafi extremism around the world. They’re the root of all the terrorism in the worlds. Iran is peanuts

  12. Cruel regime of the SOUDIA, which is a WAHABI FANATIC branch of Islam, don’t respect any other religion, don’t respect women or human rights, and their greedy friends in the western world especially America English French are the most hypocritical people, they only care for money it is the worst combination for human rights and freedom of speech in the world,

  13. God curse the Most Barbaric Satan in SArabia n in White House a scourge to God
    May ur souls be cursed for eternity

  14. Blaming MBS is absolutely wrong. I want people to think with some logic. There's someone trying to frame him specially looking at the way things has happened.

  15. I salute Al-Jazeera news service for it's top notch reporting…. From India…

  16. Maybe he went back in time?

  17. As long as they have OIL, they can do whatever they like . The western world is powerless to stop them.

  18. You do know he was also working with Osama Bin Laden up until 1995 right? Funny no one mentions this fact. He was a shill for Saudi royals for years, he just chose the wrong prince to bet on. I would think you all would bring this up but you too are Western controlled so I'm not surprised over you guys ignoring this very important fact!

  19. Evil grotesque and inhuman that's the Saudi character . Yet world's standard bearers of freedom ,democracy etc have been Saudi standard bearers too . Trump and his family , May , Netanyu etc all bed fellows of MBS !

  20. Evil Prince.
    You will surely pay to God for all you did to your fellow human beings in this world. May you be coursed. May you never have peace. Torment their souls Mr kashoogi. Don't rest until they follow your path. RIP Jamal

  21. They say that about erdogan, but the west in on another level of hypocracy. Disgracful western countries with double standards that are mind blowing and disgraceful!

  22. Israel is getting away with murder so many years… Saudi Arabia is learning from Isreal that it can kill people who it thinks are danger to them. We should condemn Saudi Arabia, but also reserve million times for Isreal, as they do this daily; so let us not condemn human right abusers with double standard… evil is evil including the US and many others who get away with murder.

  23. What goes up(Saudis),must come down

  24. Trump your the IDIOT i always knew you to be that prince killed that man NOTHING goes on in & out side SAUDI ARABIA with OUT him knowing who ever can't see that is either BLIND or STUPID your vision looks fine to me

  25. islam , arab , like animal,,, sorry animal

  26. Prophet Mohammad took all kinds of criticism including the physical abuse and never retaliated,but so called followers of him aren't practicing what he preached

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