[Marxism] WaPo: Conservatives mount a whisper campaign smearing Khashoggi in defense of Trump

RKOB aktiv at rkob.net
Fri Oct 19 20:02:48 MDT 2018

And here is another article on this issue. I insert it in full as it is 
not openly accessible.

*Conservatives mount a whisper campaign smearing Khashoggi in defense of 

By Robert Costa <https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/robert-costa/> 
and Karoun Demirjian 
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/karoun-demirjian/> October 19 

Hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators are mounting a 
whispering campaign against Jamal Khashoggi that is designed to protect 
President Trump from criticism of his handling of the dissident 
journalist’s alleged murder by operatives of Saudi Arabia — and support 
Trump’s continued aversion to a forceful response to the oil-rich desert 

In recent days, a cadre of conservative House Republicans allied with 
Trump has been privately exchanging articles from right-wing outlets 
that fuel suspicion of Khashoggi, highlighting his association with the 
Muslim Brotherhood in his youth and raising conspiratorial questions 
about his work decades ago as an embedded reporter covering Osama bin 
Laden, according to four GOP officials involved in the discussions who 
were not authorized to speak publicly.

Those aspersions — which many lawmakers have been wary of stating 
publicly because of the political risks of doing so — have begun to 
flare into public view as conservative media outlets have amplified the 
claims, which are aimed in part at protecting Trump as he works to 
preserve the U.S.-Saudi relationship and avoid confronting the Saudis on 
human rights.

Trump’s remarks about reporters amid the Khashoggi fallout have inflamed 
existing tensions between his allies and the media. At a Thursday rally 
in Montana 
Trump openly praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) for assaulting a 
reporter in his bid for Congress last year.

“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” Trump 

Hours earlier, prominent conservative television personalities were 
making insinuations about Khashoggi’s background.

“Khashoggi was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood,” Fox News anchor Harris 
Faulkner asserted 
on Thursday’s highly rated “Outnumbered” show. “I just put it out there 
because it is in the constellation of things that are being talked 
about.” Faulkner then dismissed another guest who called her claim “iffy.”

In a statement on Friday, Faulkner defended her comments. “My job as a 
journalist is to ask the tough questions,” Faulker said, citing news 
reports. “My questions surrounding the disappearance of Kashoggi are 
unwavering and does not differ from the way I do my job on other 
stories. The Oct. 2nd disappearance is a terrifying reminder of the 
dangers facing journalists and we will continue to report on all areas 
of this case as we search for answers.”

Faulkner’s on-air message was echoed on the campaign trail. Virginia 
Republican Corey A. Stewart, who is challenging Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), 
a local radio program Thursday that “Khashoggi was not a good guy himself.”

While Khashoggi was once sympathetic to Islamist movements, he moved 
toward a more liberal, secular point of view, according to experts 
on the Middle East who have tracked his career. Khashoggi knew bin Laden 
in the 1980s and 1990s during the civil war in Afghanistan, but his 
with bin Laden were as a journalist with a point of view who was working 
with a prized source.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, left his home country last year and was 
granted residency in the United States by federal authorities. He lived 
in Virginia 
and wrote for The Washington Post.

Nevertheless, the smears have escalated. Donald Trump Jr., the 
president’s eldest son and key political booster, shared 
another person’s tweet last week with his millions of followers that 
included a line that Khashoggi was “tooling around Afghanistan with 
Osama bin Laden” in the 1980s, even though the context was a feature 
story on bin Laden’s activities.

A Tuesday broadcast 
<https://twitter.com/CRTV/status/1052718404010995712> of CRTV, a 
conservative online outlet founded by popular talk-radio host Mark 
Levin, labeled Khashoggi a “longtime friend” of terrorists and claimed 
without evidence that Trump was the victim of an “insane” media 
conspiracy to tarnish him. The broadcast has been viewed more than 
500,000 times.

A story 
in far-right FrontPage magazine casts Khashoggi as a “cynical and 
manipulative apologist for Islamic terrorism, not the mythical martyred 
dissident whose disappearance the media has spent the worst part of a 
week raving about,” and features a garish cartoon of bin Laden and 
Khashoggi with their arms around each other.

The conservative push comes as Saudi government supporters on Twitter 
have sought in a propaganda campaign to denigrate Khashoggi as a 
supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement once tolerated 
but now outlawed in Saudi Arabia as a terrorist organization.

“Trump wants to take a soft line, so Trump supporters are finding 
excuses for him to take it,” said William Kristol, a conservative Trump 
critic. “One of those excuses is attacking the person who was murdered.”

Several Trump administration aides are aware of the Khashoggi attacks 
circulating on Capitol Hill and in conservative media, the GOP officials 
said, adding that aides are being careful to not encourage the 
disparagement but are also doing little to contest it.

The GOP officials declined to share the names of the lawmakers and 
others who are circulating information critical of Khashoggi because 
they said doing so would risk exposing them as sources.

Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor who published Khashoggi’s 
work, sharply criticized the false and distorted claims about Khashoggi, 
who is feared to have been killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives.

“As anyone knows who knew Jamal — or read his columns — he was dedicated 
to the values of free speech and open debate. He went into exile to 
promote those values, and now he may even have lost his life for his 
dogged determination in their defense,” Hiatt said in a statement. “It 
may not be surprising that some Saudi-inspired trolls are now trying to 
distract us from the crime by smearing Jamal. It may not even be 
surprising to see a few Americans joining in. But in both cases it is 

Trump said Thursday it appears Khashoggi is dead and warned that his 
administration could consider “very severe” measures against Saudi 
Arabia, which is conducting its own self-investigation. Treasury 
Secretary Steven Mnuchin also announced that he would not attend the 
Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia next week, 
delivering the Trump administration’s first formal rebuke of Saudi 
Arabia’s royal family.

“The president is concerned. He believes the relationship is important, 
so do I, but he also understands he’s a leader on the world stage and 
everybody is watching and he is very concerned,” said Sen. Lindsey O. 
Graham (R-S.C.), who met with Trump on Thursday.

Trump, whose grip on his party remains strong less than three weeks 
before the midterm elections, has seen his cautious approach to Saudi 
Arabia bolstered not only by the maligning of Khashoggi, but also by a 
conservative media infrastructure that is generally wary of traditional 
news organizations and establishment Republicans. As criticism of Trump 
grows, powerful players in that orbit have stood by the president.

“Donald Trump is keeping his eye on the ball, keeping his eye on the 
geopolitical ball, the national security ball. He’s not going to get 
sidetracked by what happened to a journalist, maybe, in the consulate 
there. He’s not giving cover to anybody,” syndicated talk-radio host 
Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday.

“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people 
are key allies,” evangelical leader Pat Robertson said 
this week. “We’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of. 
. . . It’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s 
not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill, on the other hand, are discussing the 
possibility of legislative action against Saudi Arabia or other ways to 
lessen U.S. support.

Intelligence community officials this week have been providing 
continuous briefings on the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance 
to the intelligence committees, whose members enjoy special clearance to 
view and hear sensitive information.

But in both the House and Senate, lawmakers without such clearance, 
including the leading Republicans on foreign policy matters, have grown 
frustrated with what many see as a deliberate attempt by the Trump 
administration to slow-walk responses to congressional requests for 
information about Khashoggi’s disappearance, or in some cases ignore 
lawmakers’ questions outright.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) have taken the step of 
invoking the Global Magnitsky Act to force Trump to report to Congress 
on whether people should face sanctions over Khashoggi’s alleged death, 
including Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Yet there has been little confidence among senators that Trump will 
suddenly feel pressure to penalize high-ranking Saudi officials or take 
other sweeping punitive measures.

In the House, a perceived lack of cooperation from the White House on 
Khashoggi has compelled some Republicans to take new interest in a bill 
to invoke the War Powers Resolution to curtail U.S. military support for 
the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen’s civil war. But the 
legislation has not secured the support of leading Republicans.

Last year, the House voted 366 to 30 to approve a nonbinding resolution 
stating that the United States’ support for the Saudi-led coalition had 
not been congressionally authorized — an effort that did not rattle the 
administration, which continued to build its relationships with Saudi 

Earlier this year, the Senate failed to enact legislation that would 
have curtailed U.S. support for the Saudi war effort, after appeals from 
Saudi officials and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis not to pass the measure.

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