07:42 - Source: CNN
Jamal Khashoggi's editor speaks out
(CNN Business) —  

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Where is Jamal Khashoggi?

Jamal Khashoggi vanished on Tuesday after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. His colleagues at the Washington Post, where he’s been a contributor for the past year, became more concerned with each passing day. And on Saturday came the worst possible news: Turkish officials, through anonymous sources, said they’d concluded that Khashoggi was killed at the consulate.

The Turkish government has not alleged this on the record. And the officials have not provided any proof. Saudi Arabia has “strenuously denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance,” per CNN’s latest story. “A Saudi official said Khashoggi left the consulate shortly after he visited. The Saudis did not, however, release any surveillance footage or other evidence.”

So we’re left with this mystery. A missing man. And an international incident…

“The entire world is watching”

That’s what Khashoggi’s editor at the Post, Karen Attiah, wanted to convey. Attiah joined me on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.”

“We want to hope that he’s still alive and with us, and can come back to us and be safe,” she said.

But if this news is true, if he was murdered at the consulate, it is devastating, she said. “This is an attack on us as well at The Washington Post.”

Attiah said “we are all watching what’s happening with this investigation. And we’re not going to let this go.”

At this point, more than 24 hours have elapsed since the reports without any proof of death, but without any proof of life…

He just wanted to write

Khashoggi is one of the best-known journalists in Saudi Arabia. In the past, he was also “very close to the Saudi family,” Attiah said.

But then, under pressure from the government, his Al-Hayat column was cancelled. Then, he said, the government banned him from Twitter. He stayed silent for six months… And then he started to write for the Post. He said Saudi Arabia was being not just “repressive,” but downright “unbearable.”

“I think it’s really important to know” that “he didn’t want to be known as a dissident,” Attiah told me. “He didn’t want to be this opposition figure. When he wrote his first piece for us in 2017, in September, he said, ‘This changed my life. I just want to be a journalist. I just want to write.’”

WaPo’s response

“We won’t rest until we know what happened to Jamal Khashoggi” is the title of Jason Rezaian’s video for the Post website. His message is made even more powerful by the fact that he was detained in Iran for 18 months.

This is Sunday night’s statement from the Post’s editorial board: If it’s true, “this is a horrific crime, the assassination of a journalist in his own country’s consulate on foreign soil — something without precedent in modern times.”

David Ignatius also filed a compelling column about Khashoggi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman…

And Liz Sly has this profile of Khashoggi in Monday’s print edition… Read it here…

>> BTW: The Post has dropped its paywall on some of Jamal’s work… to encourage people to read his pieces…

>> Robin Wright’s latest for The New Yorker: “The last time I spoke with Jamal Khashoggi, in August, he was worried about his life…

Awaiting word from the US government…

When the reports of Khashoggi’s murder first came out, a State Department spokesperson said, “We are not in a position to confirm these reports, but we are closely following the situation.” Since then, there’s been no further comment…

CPJ chief: “We need answers”

Committee to Protect Journalists exec director Joel Simon tells me: “What is alleged about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is almost too terrible to contemplate. The media reports are all based on anonymous sources, as you know, but they are increasingly specific. We need answers from the Saudi authorities and from Turkey as well. Having coddled the Saudis, the US needs to insist that the government come clean.”

Simon adds: “I hope against hope that what has been reported is not true. But if Jamal Khassoggi was lured into a Saudi consulate and then deliberately murdered it would be a truly depraved act, and one of the most heinous crimes I have observed in 20 years of fighting for press freedom. This is the time for anyone who knows anything to come forward.”

Meghan McCain returning to “The View”

Five weeks after the funeral for her father, Meghan McCain is returning to “The View” on Monday morning…

Media week ahead calendar

Monday evening: VF New Establishment Summit opens in L.A. I’ll be moderating a session on Tuesday…

Tuesday after the market close: Tronc reverts to Tribune Publishing…

Tuesday evening: POTUS holds the first of four campaign rallies this week…

Wednesday: The FOLIO conference continues in NYC. I’ll be speaking at this session moderated by Erik Wemple…

Wednesday night: The Daily Beast marks its ten-year anniversary with an NYC bash…

Friday: Newsgeist gets underway in Phoenix…

FOR THE RECORD

– Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey writing about one year since #MeToo: “Perhaps it is time to start thinking of this less as a news story than as a permanent new element of our lives…” (NYT)

– How much attention will this headline get? CNN.com’s banner headline on Sunday night: “Earth has until 2030 to curb catastrophic climate change, experts warn…” (CNN)

Taylor’s endorsements

Normally I would shrug if an A-list celebrity came out and endorsed some Democratic candidates. But Taylor Swift is different. She has stayed on the political sidelines… to the point where she’s become a punchline… but now she’s speaking out. This could be a big deal.

Hat tip to CNN’s Sandra Gonzalez for this lead: “Midterms, look what you made Taylor Swift do.” On Sunday evening, through an Instagram post, she endorsed Tennessee Democrats Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper.

“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions,” Swift said, “but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.” She has 112 million followers on Instagram…

SWIFT SAYS TO HER FANS: “Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values…”

BREDESEN SAYS: “I’m honored to have your support…”

THE TWITTERATI SAYS: This is Taylor v. Kanye…

History in the making

On CNN, Dana Bash called it “the most bruising battle” in Supreme Court history. The battle ended on Saturday afternoon with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Republicans cheered while Democrats jeered… And the scars from this battle are going to be with all of us for a long time.

“These things always blow over,” Mitch McConnell said at a Saturday presser. This led me to make the easiest prediction I’ve ever made on cable news: This will not “blow over.”

Did reporters lower their standards?

On Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” I asked my panelists if the news media came out looking better or worse at the end of the confirmation battle? (Worse, right?)

Frank Sesno said he generally agreed with Sara Fagen, who said on MSNBC the other day that “20 years ago, no major news publication would have even published the second allegation,” i.e. the Deborah Ramirez interview in The New Yorker. Watch our full conversation here…

Victory on the right, fury on the left

Brian Lowry emails: A common theme in progressive circles over the weekend – articulated simultaneously Friday night by Lawrence O’Donnell and Bill Maher on their respective shows, and in a Philip Bump piece for WaPo – is what O’Donnell called a “design flaw” in the Constitution, allowing senators representing a minority of the population to confirm Kavanaugh. Ditto for the electoral college, which enabled two presidents who lost the popular vote to nominate multiple Supreme Court justices. Whatever one thinks of the argument, the near-term question, as all three acknowledged, is how to go beyond lamenting that situation and finding a way to level the playing field within the existing system…

Read more of Sunday’s Reliable Sources newsletter… And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox…

Flashback…

Christine Blasey Ford predicted this outcome. I tried to point this out on Sunday’s “Reliable.” According to the WaPo’s first story about Ford, she had decided by late August NOT to come forward, “calculating that doing so would upend her life and probably would not affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”

Well, she was right… But then her name leaked out, and she decided to speak out on her own terms…