“A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche,” he wrote, “and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.”
Khashoggi might have also been describing the current state of the U.S. media. Over the last several years, the press here has repeatedly joined with government officials, including intelligence officers, to wage operations influencing the American public to obtain political goals, just like Middle East media.
Take Turkey, for example. As The Washington Post explained, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used leaks about the Khashoggi affair, some true some not, as a political instrument to target Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the Trump administration.
What the Post failed to disclose was that it played a role in Erdogan’s campaign. Indeed, in the last few years, a whole swath of the U.S. press and foreign policy establishment that had been openly hostile to the Turkish government suddenly began publishing almost everything the Erdogan-allied media gave them, relaying anonymous leaks from Turkish officials, often secondhand, to American audiences for the purpose of damaging a Trump ally.
Turkey has jailed more journalists than any other country in the world, thus most of what’s left of the Turkish press are journalists aligned with the president or wary of crossing him. In other words, the Turkish press is not a separate and independent institution but is instead one of the Turkish government’s political weapons.