Jamal Khashoggi and the Washington Post

Many questions surround the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi. By far, the most important ones are who, exactly, is responsible and what will the U.S. do in response.

Here’s another question that, although of far less importance, may be of interest: Why did the Washington Post hire Khashoggi as a contributor?

David Goldman describes Khashoggi as “a top level spook who played a high-stakes game in Saudi spookdom.” Is Goldman exaggerating? I don’t know. But Khashoggi does seem to have been some form of Middle East operative. Why would the Post choose a Middle East operative to write columns for it?

Here is what Ben Hubbard and David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times say about Khashoggi and the Post:

After a successful career as an adviser to and unofficial spokesman for the royal family of Saudi Arabia, he had been barred from writing in the kingdom, even on Twitter, by the new crown prince. . . .

So in the United States, he reinvented himself as a critic, contributing columns to The Washington Post. . .

Why would the Post enable a former spokesman for the Saudi royal family to reinvent himself by contributing columns?

Hubbard and Kirkpatrick describe Khashoggi as a “political Islamist” who “forge[d] a personal bond with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.” Why would the Post use as a columnist an Islamist pal of Erdogan?

The Times reporters say that, according to Khashoggi’s friends, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood. They claim Khashoggi stopped attending Brotherhood meetings but acknowledge that he “remained conversant in its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric, which he could deploy or hide depending on whom he was seeking to befriend.” Was Khashoggi hiding such rhetoric in his Post columns?

Why would the Post hire a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who sometimes deployed (and other times hid) Islamist, anti-Western rhetoric?

I don’t know. But we shouldn’t be too surprised. Let’s remember that the Post holds out Jennifer Rubin (and, earlier, Dave Weigel) as its conservative (“center right”) voice. Truth in columnists isn’t the paper’s strong suit.

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