It has been a year since the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. Mr. Khashoggi wore many professional hats throughout his career, one of which was as a freelance online blogger for Washington’s other newspaper — I believe it’s called the “Post?”
In the time since Mr. Khashoggi’s unjustifiable and heinous murder in the Saudi consulate, the Post has taken up the cause of memorializing him. And the paper this week has devoted an entire section to the slain journalist’s memory, featuring pieces from, among others, his editor at the Post, Karen Attiah, and the columnist David Ignatius.
One byline sticks out among those memorializing Jamal Khashoggi in the pages of the Post, however. That is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Erdogan, of course, is the president of Turkey, where the brutal murder occurred.
Turkey is a beautiful and complex country, and Istanbul is a terrific city in which to be a tourist, an art-lover, and most of all, a cat. (See here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kedi_(2016_film) But Turkey is a terrible place to be a journalist.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey has for three years running imprisoned more journalists than any other country — nearly three times as many have been thrown behind bars in China. Just last month, Turkey began court proceedings against journalists from Bloomberg News and other outlets who dared to report on a 2018 currency shock in the country. They have been accused of trying to undermine Turkey’s “economic stability,” simply by reporting facts. The Turkish government often uses the weight of the legal system to silence reporters it deems unhelpful.
Yet in the pages of today’s Post, President Erdogan is allowed to style himself a champion of freedom and what he calls the “rules-based international system.”
“In the wake of Khashoggi’s demise, my administration adopted a policy of transparency,” Mr. Erdogan writes. “It is in our best interest, and in the best interest of humanity, to ensure that such a crime is not committed anywhere again. Combating impunity is the easiest way to accomplish that goal. We owe it to Jamal’s family.” Nowhere in the piece or the pages surrounding it is made a mention of Mr. Erodgan’s record of suppressing speech with, yes, impunity.
Jackson Diehl, the Post’s deputy editorial page editor, explained the decision to grant Mr. Erodgan the freedom to write such a ridiculous piece.
“In an effort to provide our readers with the full debate on the issues, Washington Post Opinions aims to publish op-eds that are newsworthy and informative, even if we do not agree with the perspective. We found Erdogan’s views relevant given that he is the president of the country in which Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, has overseen the investigation of the case, and has made the assassination a major issue in Turkey’s diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia,” he said in a statement to The Washington Times.
The Post has for the past several year made a big show of standing up for the free press against the supposed assaults of Donald Trump, going so far as to plaster the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” across its web page and print edition. But where democracy dies, irony lives.