Jamal Khashoggi: or why you don’t trust the MSM even if they say what you want to hear


(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a mass media rollout, every bit as sparsely verified and every bit as questionable as the official Skripal narrative, but this fact is being overlooked due to the cognitive dissonance involved in who is being blamed.

What we are seeing in the mainstream media at the moment is a narrative-shift worthy of Minitrue. We are currently being told the equivalent of “Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia”.  The Saudis in general, and  Muhammad bin Salman in particular, all previous “good guys” in the MSM pantheon, are being apparently re-branded as baddies with all the cartoonish excess normally reserved for Russia/Putin and Syria/Assad.

Sen. Lindsey Graham rewriting his “Assad must go” mantra with a new name.
American public officials, corporations and press pulling out of Saudi-related events in an attempt to “isolate” them.

We are being bombarded with what one commentator rightly described as Grand Guignol narratives of slaughter, dismemberment, torture, all based on the kind of flimsy claims and dodgy alleged technologies we are already more than familiar  with in a different context. Despite an almost total lack of hard evidence,  we are being told the missing Khashoggi is not just definitely deceased, but horribly murdered and definitely by the Saudis.

Some of the alt media are accepting these conclusions simply because the accused is recognised as a NATO ally, when they would be far more sceptical if it was one of the more usual patsies – Russia or Syria.

Two major points seem to be largely missed. They are:

The Saudis may be local tyrants but for the Empire they are merely puppets.  Like all such assets,  they are expendable.  They are tolerated.  They are flattered, feted, given the hero treatment by the compliant media –  while they are useful and obedient. The moment they cease to be either of these things they are slapped down, and if they don’t learn the lesson they go on to be dropped like a lizard tail, scapegoated, color-revolutioned and ultimately destroyed.

Remember when Saddam was the good guy in the ME because he was going up against the “evil” of Iran?

It’s not that long ago, a matter of weeks, that MPs were writing articles praising MBS in the the Huffington Post, or The Guardian was accepting ad revenue to praise Saudi Arabia’s great reformer.The empire knows no loyalty and has no interest in consistency.

The recent media blitz on MBS stemming from the alleged murder of Khashoggi, tells us he is currently out of favour. And this is all it tells us.  It may be meant to remind him and certainly should remind us of where the power really lies. It’s a signifier of his real place in the scheme of things, and how quickly he can be demonised and disposed of if the real powers that be should choose.

It is not an indicator on any level of his guilt or innocence of this alleged crime. Because the  second overlooked point is this:

The question of whether or not the Saudis and MBS really murdered Khashoggi is irrelevant to the message.

Not secondary, not incidental – entirely irrelevant.

We need to get this if we are to be able to understand anything about how the current western intelligentsia operates.

What matters to them is the narrative. The headline. The psychic impact. The saying is all. Khashoggi needs to be dead right now and so he is. Will he still be dead tomorrow? Who knows, but if not he won’t be the first such resurrection. Even death isn’t necessarily permanent in the new post-truth age.

Do we currently know the man is dead? Let alone who may have killed him? I don’t think we can make that claim. We have an allegedly vanished journalist. We have a number of unproven claims, of varying plausibility. None of this is evidence of anything.

Yes, the Saudis are blood-soaked and vile. Yes they are, or have been up to this time, allies of the empire, but that’s no reason to buy a bare and unconvincing mainstream narrative that just happens to implicate them We need to keep repeating the mantra. Khashoggi’s murder, whether ultimately real or not,  appeared in the media, not because it happened but because it was useful for someone to say that it had. If he had been murdered at some other time when such news served no purpose it would have been buried with his body, airbrushed away. It’s possible no one would ever have heard about it. Or it may have appeared in alt media, reported by some dedicated truth-seeking unpaid journalists who went out there to dig up some buried truths, and who would have been called “conspiracy theorists” for their pains.

We need to resist any temptation to give the mainstream the benefit of the doubt as soon as they appear to endorse some part of what we know is true. When they seem to have an epiphany and realise  the Saudis are bloodthirsty tyrants or that global warming is a thing, they aren’t seeing the light, they’re simply following the dictates of an agenda which currently finds these truths useful. The moment they stop being useful these truths will be dropped again, right down the Memory Hole. And it will be as if they never were.

When we preempt the arrival of any data and discuss the “murder of Khashoggi” as if it were a fact, and when we blame the Saudis unequivocally without anymore evidence for their guilt than we have for that of Boshirov and Petrov, we are actually unwittingly endorsing the media’s ability to invent realities.

What all this should teach us is the need to stop assuming even the most basic connection between “the news” and veridical reality. Because no such connection exists in the minds of those who control the media and those who work for it. We need to grasp that they no longer even consider fact-checking in any sense we would understand it. You can’t meaningfully fact-check a worldview that has escaped so far from all verifiable fact. All you can do is find endorsement in repetition.

We’ll know when/if the Saudis  step back behind whatever line they transgressed when the headlines stop telling us about Khashoggi’s brutal murder, when that meme simply vanishes, or when it’s transformed by weasel-words into something else. If the meme doesn’t vanish or transform we’ll know the Saudis are still on the naughty stool and may well be headed the way of Saddam.

But none of it will have anything much to do with what really happened to Jamal Khashoggi – whether he’s alive or dead, brutally murdered by the Saudis, brutally murdered by someone else, disappeared or hiding in someone’s basement.


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