Khashoggi, Erdogan, and the Washington Post

I understand why the Post wants to keep banging the drum over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. He’s one of their own.

Trying to cause the U.S. to reverse its foreign policy in the Middle East over one more killing in the region, however heinous, seems rather ambitious and, from the point of view of U.S. interests, misguided. But the Post has every right to try.

However, the Post crosses a line when it provides Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a platform to bang his drum, ostensibly in the name of freedom and transparency.

Under Erdogan, Turkey’s human rights record is deplorable. Its treatment of journalists is atrocious.

The Post itself recently ran a story called “Under Erdogan, journalists in peril.” The Post’s Chico Harlan cites the finding by the Committee to Protect Journalists that Turkey jails more journalists than any other nation. Indeed, it jails more than China, Russia, and Egypt combined.

In its 2017/18 report on Turkey, Amnesty International found:

Dissent was ruthlessly suppressed, with journalists, political activists and human rights defenders among those targeted. Instances of torture continued to be reported, but in lower numbers than in the weeks following the coup attempt of July 2016. Any effective investigation of human rights violations by state officials was prevented by pervasive impunity. Abuses by armed groups continued, including two attacks in January.

(Emphasis added)

Yet, here is Erdogan on the Post’s op-ed page demanding transparency from Saudi Arabia regarding the murder of Khashoggi — “journalist and family man.” Are not many of the legion of journalists Erdogan has jailed family men? Are not many of those he has had tortured?

Of course they are. Erdogan isn’t concerned about the killing of a journalist, family man or not. And though he’s obviously displeased about a Saudi-ordered and executed murder of a friend in Istanbul, that’s not what his op-ed is really about either.

Erdogan’s goal is to discredit and defeat the faction of the Saudi royal family that’s currently ascendant. That’s also a goal of the Post. But this confluence of interests can’t justify running a transparently phony op-ed by a serial human rights violator and opponent of a free press.

The Post’s op-ed page, once the jewel of the newspaper, has become a joke — a festival of Trump bashing in which mediocrities try to outdo one another on a daily basis with “the sky is falling” screeds. With the Erdogan piece, the op-ed page risks becoming a sick joke.