Getting Weird

The war on journalism: Are members of the media in danger?

More stories from Alyssa Anderson

Getting Weird
December 13, 2018

These are trying times, my friends. There is no doubt that the time we’re living in will take up a few hefty chapters of a history textbook at some point. Instead of turning a blind eye to all the strange goings-on around me, I feel compelled to make sure everyone is paying attention. The news gets weirder every day.

Every morning, I listen to the NPR podcast “Up First”, which briefly outlines the day’s biggest news stories, and every morning, I find myself becoming increasingly disturbed at what I hear. Just when I thought the Kavanaugh nonsense had pushed me over the edge, I listened to “Up First” the other day and realized the madness will likely never stop.

Last week, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to pick up a document needed for his upcoming marriage. Khashoggi has not been seen since. The Washington Post reported that Turkish officials have stated he was killed within the walls of the consulate, while Saudis maintain that Khashoggi left the compound unharmed. Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, is left without answers.

The Turkish government has adamantly stated that Khashoggi was never seen exiting the building, but the Saudi Arabian government remains unflinching in saying he left perfectly healthy. Yet, there is no proof whatsoever that Khashoggi left the building. According to The Post, the journalist is presumed to be dead. But why?

For the past year, Khashoggi has been working as a columnist for The Post while living in exile in the United States after the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cracked down on intellectuals and activists critical of his policies.

With tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia already brimming, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the Saudis to provide physical proof of Khashoggi exiting the consulate.

“Now when this person enters, whose duty is it to prove that he left or not?” Erdogan said during a visit to Hungary. “It is (the duty) of the consulate officials. Don’t you have cameras and other things? Why don’t you prove it, you have to prove it.”

Erdogan has a good point. If Khashoggi left the building, how did no one see him? Why is his fiancée still wondering where he is? It certainly seems something sinister has taken place.

A Turkish state-run news agency reported that police said 15 Saudi nationals arrived on private planes in Istanbul and were inside the consulate when Khashoggi disappeared. At this point, officials believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate and that his body was disposed of secretly. Though there is no evidence of this, the fact that a group of Saudis arrived at the consulate within the same time frame that Khashoggi was last seen is obviously suspicious.

Khashoggi has a history with the royal family and only recently began speaking out against Prince bin Salman, who has reportedly rounded up known dissidents and having them arrested. Last year, The Post reported the Saudi government allegedly forced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to abruptly resign from his position on broadcast television. But, in Khashoggi’s case, Turkish officials argue something much worse occurred and have been anonymously seeking out journalists to say Khashoggi was murdered on site.

Killing Khashoggi would make sense for the Saudi government — he has deep knowledge of both the royal family and Saudi intelligence and has made his dissent of Prince Mohammed evident in the last year. This appears to be the classic case of “he knows too much, so he has to go.”

Will the Saudis own up to this? Will the public ever know what happened to Khashoggi? President Trump doesn’t seem too concerned about helping our ally, Saudi Arabia.

“I am concerned about it. I don’t like hearing about it,” President Trump said. “And hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now, nobody knows anything about it.”

Talk about an understatement. A man is missing and presumed dead and all Trump says is that he hopes it will sort itself out? I have a hard time believing this is a situation that can just be ‘sorted out’.

Yet, I suppose I shouldn’t expect too much from a president who outwardly bashes the media every chance he gets. All I can say is that the media is under fire across the globe. How long will it be until American journalists disappear for speaking out against Trump?

Anderson can be reached at [email protected].