The Washington Post and the New York Times have taken the lead in Khashoggimania by repeating every Turkish lie and scam.
While the European media is more lefty, the US media is an echo chamber for Qatar and its allied Islamists in Turkey. You won’t see any criticism of Qatar in US paper. You will however see it in British papers. So it fell to the BBC to call out the Washington Post and the New York Times for their addiction to Turkish fake news.
Much international media coverage of the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been driven by explosive details reported in a small number of Turkish pro-government news outlets.
Unverified reports in flagship newspapers Sabah and Yeni Safak have informed coverage on the Khashoggi case in the New York Times and the Washington Post. There has also been a steady stream of leaks from unnamed Turkish official sources to global media outlets.
On 17 October, a New York Times report included a full-paragraph disclaimer warning that Turkish media outlets are “either government-controlled or owned by pro-government business executives”. It added that “censors are often present in newsrooms, and reporters and editors take close instructions from officials in the presidency”.
That’s no excuse for pushing propaganda from a totalitarian Islamist state. But Marty Baron’s social justice rag, the Washington Post, hasn’t even bothered with the disclaimer.
It said the audio revealed that the victim’s fingers were cut off before he was beheaded and dismembered in the consulate building. Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard asking for the operation to be done elsewhere, but he was told to “shut up, if you want to live”, Yeni Safak reported.
On the same day, the New York Times quoted a “senior Turkish official” making the same allegation.
This followed other gruesome details reported by Yeni Safak and Sabah in previous days, similarly citing “Turkish official sources”.
On 10 October, the front-page of Sabah published the alleged identities and photos of what it called a “15-man assassination team” that entered Turkey to kill Khashoggi. It said the group included special forces officers, intelligence officials and a forensics expert.
On 13 October, Sabah alleged that Khashoggi recorded the moment of his killing on his Apple Watch, saved to his iPhone and Apple’s cloud service. CNN later reported that experts dismissed this possibility, while the Apple website indicates that a cellular connection is not available for its smartwatches Turkey.
Both Sabah and Yeni Safak have been accused of publishing fabricated news in the past.
The media has a fake news problem. It’s called the Washington Post.