Jonathan Freedland has weighed in on the Khashoggi case. He’s outraged, of course. Because they all are. Every single voice in the mainstream world has suddenly realised just how appalled they are that Saudi Arabia does bad things.
They weren’t appalled a few weeks ago, when the Saudis blew up a bus full of school children.
But they are appalled now, because Mike Pompeo was told by the Turkish government, who were told by the Turkish secret service, that a reporter who may or may not be dead, might have been killed by a super-secret Saudi Arabian hit squad (who then died in a car accident). There are video and audio recordings to prove all of this but we’re not allowed to see them yet.
Freedland recounts these alleged gory details with po-faced prurience. Apparently, they might have used a chainsaw. But that’s not really what his article is about – his article is about attempting to claw back some credibility in the face of (perfectly justified) accusations of massive hypocrisy, and deeper questions about the motivations of the media and the agenda of the Deep State.
You see, Yemen is a thing.
It’s the poorest country in the Middle-East and it’s being systematically destroyed by its vastly richer neighbours, with the full backing and cooperation of NATO. In fact, we’re making a fortune out of it. Bombs are expensive, the Saudis need a lot of them, and you can only use them once. Ker-ching.
Domestically, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with a laughable track-record when it comes to human rights. This has been known for decades, it is talked about a lot. Barely a week goes by without some author, somewhere in the alternate media, writing up a story about the crimes of the House of Saud – either international or domestic. So why are we just now hearing about them in the mainstream?
When he was selling wars in Libya and Syria, did Freedland ever once suggest the “humanitarian bombing” of Riyadh?
Did he object to his paper selling ad space to promote the Muhammed bin Salman, “the great reformer”?
Did he boycott events or protest arms deals or in any way speak out?
Did he devote even a single one his columns to the war in Yemen?
People all over the world are asking: “Why are the Saudis suddenly the bad guys? Why can’t Jamal Khashoggi be brushed under the carpet as if he’s nothing but a burning bus full of children or a napalm-strewn wedding reception?”
It’s a question no one in the media has an answer for. They are aware of the contradiction though, and they are busily trying to get around it.
This is Freedland’s attempt:
I can understand the frustration of campaigners for Yemen that the death of one man has captured a global attention that has so rarely focused on the tens of thousands killed…But sometimes it takes the story of a single individual to break through. So it has proved with Khashoggi.
That’s it. A simple brush-off.
That’s the new narrative – nobody really realised just how bad the Saudis were until now. This is the big reveal. The “oh shit” moment. None of them had been on twitter, or read the alternate news or even looked at the comments BTL on their own articles. Yes, Yemen was there in the background but – through forces beyond everyone’s control – it just never broke through to the public consciousness. Oops.
He’s trying to imply that the news just sort of happens, like it’s an organic process beyond the control of the mere mortals writing the stories or filming the segments or thinking up the headlines.
That is patently absurd. We know how the media works, and it’s not some Jungian expression of the collective will. To suggest as much is insulting and ridiculous.
The news is a system by which a handful of mega-corporations distribute propaganda and manipulate public opinion. It is rigidly controlled. They push some issues to the front page and shovel others down the memory hole. When they need to, they make stuff up. Every headline is picked for a purpose, every omission deliberately made. Cogs turn and push the constantly-evolving agenda forward. There are no accidents, and the process is anything but organic.
It’s mechanical. And like all machines, it lacks a soul. There has been no grand awakening of the media conscience. There is no such thing.
There was a reason Yemen was banished to the far reaches of the press for four years. There was a reason the mainstream media were happy to white-wash the Saudi Arabians as they pummelled school buses and weddings with bombs British and American arms companies probably over-charged them for.
There’s a reason every big newspaper on both sides of the Atlantic was happy to serve as Muhammad bin Salman’s PR agency….and there’s a reason they stopped. A real reason, that has nothing to do with Jamal Khashoggi.
We just don’t know what it is yet.