A new report from the Washington Post alleges that a number of Republican lawmakers and pundits are working on a “whispering campaign” against missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in hopes of defending President Donald Trump as he continues to preserve relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Speaking anonymously to the Washington Post, four GOP officials familiar with the situation told the publication that several House Republicans have been sharing articles posted by conservative outlets that focus on Khashoggi’s past as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and his previous coverage of Osama bin Laden for his work as a reporter in the 1980s and 1990s. These efforts were described as a way of supporting Trump’s soft stance on the Saudi Arabia government amid allegations that Khashoggi was murdered by a group of Saudi operatives.
As part of the alleged smear campaign, certain Republican officials and supporters have also dropped Khashoggi’s name in recent days while painting him in a less than flattering light. The Washington Post cited the example of Virginia senatorial hopeful Corey A. Stewart, who appeared on a local radio show on Thursday and said that Khashoggi “was not a good guy himself.” Furthermore, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., took to social media last week and retweeted a post that alleged Khashoggi spent the late 1980s “tooling around Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden,” as previously reported by the Daily Beast.
Aside from the aforementioned lawmakers, a few right-leaning television personalities recently made allegations about Jamal Khashoggi’s younger days and past connections, the Washington Post noted. These include Fox News’ Harris Faulkner, who brought up the journalist’s “[ties] to the Muslim Brotherhood” on Thursday’s episode of Outnumbered.
“I just put it out there because it is in the constellation of things that are being talked about,” Faulkner added.
Citing additional examples of how the apparent smear campaign against Khashoggi has escalated in recent days, the Washington Post quoted a story from FrontPage Mag, which wrote about the missing journalist in a piece that called him a “Muslim Brotherhood pal” of bin Laden.
“That’s the real Khashoggi, 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,” wrote FrontPage Mag on Monday.
“Jamal Khashoggi was not a moderate. Some describe him as the leader of the Saudi Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist network admires [Adolf] Hitler and seeks to impose Islamic law around the world. Nor was he a supporter of freedom of the press.”
Hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators mount a dark whisper campaign to smear columnist Jamal Khashoggi and protect President Trump from criticism https://t.co/Md5EfOSdHT pic.twitter.com/weQDSyVJ31
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) October 19, 2018
William Kristol, a conservative political analyst who has been critical of Trump’s presidency, commented that the purported smear campaign shows how the president’s supporters are “finding excuses” to justify his “soft” stance against Saudi Arabia, which, so far, has included the threat of “very severe,” yet unspecified sanctions against the country if it is found that its government orchestrated Khashoggi’s murder.
Although the Washington Post acknowledged that Khashoggi, who wrote for the publication before his disappearance, had once supported the ideologies of Islamist movements, it stressed that he had since adopted a more “liberal, secular point of view” and that his relationship with bin Laden was strictly journalistic in nature. Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt also defended Khashoggi in a recent statement, saying that he was someone who was “dedicated to the values of free speech and open debate.”
“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 reprehensible,” said Hiatt.
Editor’s note: Fox News reached out to the Inqusitr with a statement from Harris Faulkner.
“My job as a journalist is to ask the tough questions, which I was doing yesterday, in citing reports from the New York Times on the various ties journalist Jamil [sic] Khashoggi had, including to the Muslim Brotherhood. 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.”