opn Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi Image Credit: AP

The western media spearheaded by the acclaimed Washington Post went overboard in portraying Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi as a principled journalist motivated by exposing human rights abuses and defending democratic principles.

Networks and newspapers plastered a halo above his head for months while spewing vitriol against the Saudi kingdom and its leadership, which denounced the gruesome killing and arrested the 21 individuals involved.

American commentators praised this US resident as one of their own. Reporters who knew him were wheeled out to praise him as a stellar human being. Congress piled pressure on Donald Trump to punish America’s closest regional ally with sanctions, a move he wisely resisted.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan milked the incident for all it was worth to repair frayed relations with Washington, laughably styling himself as a defender of journalists when his country has imprisoned more editors and reporters than any other on the planet. He hoisted himself on a holier-than-thou pedestal while arrogantly demanding that the Saudis handover the alleged killers to be tried in a Turkish court — knowing full well that is a non-starter.

For months Khashoggi’s image and that of his grief-stricken Turkish fiancee — who is connected to a charity known to fund Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) — as well as the Turkish regime, dominated our screens. What better than a love story to tug at people’s heartstrings! However, mere months earlier the would-be groom had tied the knot with an Egyptian woman during a religious ceremony held in the United States.

Never before has an Arab been the object of such fierce media beatification, vastly surpassing airtime and column inches reserved for the late Mother Teresa. It turns out that in true Orwellian fashion, we were conned by Newspeak big time.

The real Jamal Khashoggi has at last been exposed as an English-language challenged scribbler paid by Qatar to attack his own country while defending the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood as a moderate organisation. In other words, he was a traitor to his homeland and from the US perspective an unregistered foreign agent.

The Washington Post has finally admitted in a low-key fashion that its columnist may not have been wholly kosher. Simultaneously, the paper’s opinion editors are distancing themselves from their own cherished columnist to a man “who was never a staff employee of the Post.”

Astonishingly, the paper that broke Watergate that toppled a US president had no idea that he had “cultivated friendships with people with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood”, of which Khashoggi was a member since college. They were unaware that his columns were proposed, shaped, edited and reviewed by Maggie Mitchell Salem, an executive at the Qatar Foundation, otherwise known as the Muslim Brotherhood’s think tank. In that case, the Post’s renowned investigative abilities must have been greatly diminished over the decades!

Salem insists Khashoggi was never paid. Hard to believe when text messages exchanged between her and Khashoggi seem to prove who was boss. In one, she gives him a ticking-off in relation to a draft column, writing “You moved off topic and seem to excuse Riyadh... it is highly problematic.”

One can only speculate how many other remunerated media lackeys are funded by the same source. Certainly, Al Jazeera’s programmes are peppered with faux intellectuals from the foundation — all competing to discredit Saudi, UAE and Egyptian authorities that have branded the Brotherhood terrorist.

Shame on the Washington Post for giving a platform to one of the foundation’s emissaries and for eulogising him as a journalistic martyr! Shame on the western media for its lemming-like approach! Where is the 24/7 reporting now that the gloss is off their once-favourite Saudi? Where are the apologies? As usual when the media has egg on its face, silence reigns.

Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.