Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Khashoggi and media disinformation

Two weeks ago Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey. He has not been seen since. The Turkish authorities claimed they had proof that he had been tortured, murdered and dismembered by the Saudi regime. The western corporate media, led by the Washington Post, a newspaper for which Khashoggi worked, made a scandal out of the disappearance and possible murder.

The Washington Post represented Mr Khashoggi as a journalist, who was a critic of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They represented him as being an advocate of human rights and democracy. They suggested that the regime had sought to silence his dissent. Everything about this representation was completely false.

Mr Khashoggi was not a journalist. There is no journalism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was a propagandist. He was not a critic of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, he was a well connected member of the Saudi establishment. His so called journalism consisted solely of the promotion of Saudi propaganda and, as an editor, the censorship of opinions and facts that did not suit the interests of the regime. This propaganda promoted both the absolute rule of the monarchy and its Wahabist version of Islam, neither of which recognise human rights nor democracy. Indeed, Khashoggi had helped to support Osma bin Laden. He did this right up until there was a parting of the ways between bin Laden and the House of Saud, as would be expected from a state propagandist.

About a year ago, Mr Khashoggi went to America, an act of self imposed exile. This was not because of some mythical conversion to the values of human rights and democracy. It was because the princes he had aligned himself with had fallen out of favour with the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The rift between Khashoggi and the Saudi regime was not a conflict between a freedom loving dissident and an autocratic regime, but an internal power conflict within the ruling elite of Saudi Arabia. Mr Khashoggi had picked the wrong princes.

However, the simple facts of the case do not suit the Washington Post. Hence the fairy tale about him being a critic of the regime. Mr Khashoggi was not a critic of the regime any more than the Washington Post was a critic of the regime. He, just like the Washington Post and the rest of the US elite, was a supporter of the barbarous regime in Saudi Arabia. The purpose of the Washington Post narrative, which has been amplified by the rest of the corporate media, is to hide the inconvenient fact that the US elite fully supports the murderous regime in Saudi Arabia.

Indeed, it should be obvious to all that the expressed outrage is completely confected, given the fact that the regime routinely and systematically violates human rights; that it tortures and kills people for non-crimes, such as the expression of opinion; that it is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in its war on Yemen, a war the US and its allies fully support; that it promotes jihad and terrorism across the globe. None of this is news. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always been a barbarous state. Yet, the Washington Post has not seen fit to demand action be taken when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has persecuted genuine critics of the regime. On the contrary, it has acted as a PR arm of the regime.

The case of the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi is a textbook illustration of the propaganda role of the corporate media. A few actual facts, embedded in a mendacious narrative that inverts reality and turns the world upside down, claiming black is white, tyranny is freedom, and sociopathy is altruism. If this sounds like Orwell's 1984, it is simply because ever since the common people gained the right to vote, the ruling elites have felt compelled to lie in public.

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