The Khashoggi case: Not ‘going away without answers’

October 15, 2018
Category: Newsletters

Saudi shudders; an LAT/NYT partnership?; the Rae Carruth podcast; secrets of a 12-year-old reporter

The reported murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly ordered by Saudi Arabia’s violent, volatile 33-year-old crown prince, has created a perfect storm of outrage.

A PR firm and a think tank ditched contracts. High-profile business leaders quit working with the Saudis. Media partners deserted an upcoming Saudi business conference. A bipartisan U.S. Congress called for punishment of Saudi Arabia.

And messages abounded from journalists such as New York Times diplomatic writer Peter Baker, who said the Khashoggi inquiry isn't "going away without answers."

Adding to the momentum: Disclosures of dubious Donald Trump and Jared Kushner ties with Mohammed bin Salman. The NYT's Nick Kristof dubbed him a mad prince. The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt asked why any retired U.S. diplomat or military officer would want to work for a murderer.

On what would have been the journalist's 60th birthday, heartbroken accounts emerged from Khashoggi's friends and from his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

Experts say the incident and intense coverage might provide an awakening to young people worldwide of Saudi Arabia’s sordid practices, including the deadly Yemen war and its blistering bullying of Qatar. For many millennials and Gen Zers, “this horrific incident” will be first time Saudi actions are on their minds, tweeted Farah Pandith, the State Department’s first-ever special representative to Muslim communities under Barack Obama and an NSC official under George W. Bush.

Pandith says younger consumers will “ask businesses what they stand for." She wonders if the Khashoggi crisis will translate into companies asking "What is our red line?"

Developments in the case:

— If you only have time for one story to figure out this dissident journalist and his importance, I'd suggest this look at Khashoggi and his overarching drive to get the truth out. It's written by longtime intelligence columnist David Ignatius, and covers decades of Khashoggi's life. (Washington Post

— The Saudi leader who ordered the operation has admired Putin’s way of getting away with intimidating, deflecting and denying objective facts to his own people. (The Guardian)

— Mohammed bin Salman's dark, bullying side. (The Washington Post)

— The Saudi stock market plunged after Trump suggested "severe punishment" if the oil-rich nation is found to be behind the killing. (AP)

— The Brookings Institution joined tech companies, lobbyists, media partners and international leaders in turning away from a Saudi Arabia business conference. Those ditching from the media include Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, The Economist, Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.  Who hasn't ditched yet? Fox Business Network. (NYT)

— Related: 9 of 10 assassinations of journalists since 2012 came in nations deemed deeply corrupt, says a report by Transparency International. (Foreign Policy)

Quick hits

'WE NEED TO BRING PEOPLE BACK': That's billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong appealing to those who turned away from The Los Angeles Times in recent years (he begins at the 17:20 mark of this video). Speaking Friday night, the newspaper owner also said he's creating a new TV network called "L.A. Times Today," beginning with an hour of daily programming and rapidly expanding. He also said he talked with New York Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger at dinner last week about creating a unified news or social network with "a UL stamp or something to say this article is factual." An NYT spokesperson confirmed the meeting with Soon-Shiong but characterized the partnership notion as an idea that was briefly mentioned. (h/t Ben Welsh)

TIME FOR SEPARATE SITES FOR NEWS, OPINION?: So, and That's the view of Eli Pariser, who co-founded Upworthy and wrote "The Filter Bubble," about how publishers are serving news based on your political beliefs or preferences, giving you an incomplete view of the world. Pariser, making his case to create separate news and opinion web sites, cites the confusion caused by a misleading op-ed by President Trump in USA Today, which readers and publishing platforms may have thought was factual. "Moving opinion content onto separately branded sites wouldn’t mean getting rid of it entirely," Pariser writes for Nieman Labs. "But the whole practice of op-edding deserves a shakeup anyway, in an era where anyone can self-publish and content is experienced in an atomized form." 

HOW SINCLAIR IS MOVING LOCAL TV TO THE RIGHT: Employees of the company with the largest number of local TV stations say Sinclair: a) orders them to air biased political segments produced by the corporate news division, including editorials by the conservative commentator Mark Hyman, and b) feeds interviewers slanted questions intended to favor Republicans. The big question, asks Gene Kimmelman, the president of the consumer-protection group Public Knowledge, is "whether Sinclair is fit to be a licensee, period. Whether it is fit to own any stations, not two hundred. Any.” By The New Yorker's Sheelah Kolhatkar.

THE 12-YEAR-OLD REPORTER: Hildy Lysiak knows what she wants to do. "When my dad quit his job at the paper to begin writing books and my parents moved from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania I knew I didn’t want to stop reporting," she told Bright Lite magazine. She founded a local paper called The Orange Street News, breaking a murder story and writing about drugs in her local high school. Her work is the basis of a Scholastic book series and an upcoming Apple TV show. (Background: A Poynter profile when she was breaking stories at age 9.)

COMING TUESDAY: The debut of a podcast on the rise and fall of onetime NFL star and top Carolina Panthers draft pick Rae Carruth. The Charlotte Observer and McClatchy Studios tell the story of a murder and a miracle, part of a yearlong investigation. It features The Observer's Scott Fowler, who has been covering the story for 19 years. The podcast comes as Carruth, linked to the murder of pregnant girlfriend Cherica Adams, prepares for release from prison Oct. 22. Here's the trailer.

NO TOAST FOR YOU: Kara Swisher's rollicking recounting of her start in journalism, beginning with the indifferent or malevolent male bosses she worked for early in her career, is required reading for all journalists, particularly managers and people who may want to be a manager someday. The young Swisher, not obsequious, nor making toast as demanded by one boss, knew she'd surpass those supervisors once she got more experience, she told Slate's Laura Bennett. Swisher, co-founder of Recode and now an NYT Opinion columnist, looked at those managers' decisions and thought: I’m not experienced, but I'd do it a different way.

MOVES: Emily Chow is returning to The Washington Post from Mapbox to become project manager lead for … Azi Paybarah, formerly of Politico New York, WNYC and The New York Observer, starts today at The New York Times, editing the New York Today newsletter.

THE READ: "Being a baseball fan is really about caring — caring deeply. And you will probably agree that in our country lately, we haven't had any national surplus of caring." Columnist and NewsHour commentator Mark Shields on the irrationality of baseball fans. (h/t Carolyn Ryan)


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