The osmotic-parasitic relationship which still exists between power and the American media is as powerful as ever – it’s merely more discreet under the Trump regime
The Independent Voices
It’s always good to have our profession honoured, albeit that the living martyrs of journalism should be accompanied by the ghost of another. But the moment I learned of Time magazine’s person of the year front cover – the award going to Jamal Khashoggi and the other “guardians” who have “taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths” – I remembered Spielberg’s movie Bridge of Spies.
When captured Soviet agent Rudolf Abel’s defence lawyer (Tom Hanks) asks Abel (Mark Rylance) if he is worried, he replies: “Would it help?”
The right question. Would it make any difference? Is Time’s choice of its 2018 front page going to change anything? Or was it chiefly aimed at Trump? The raving lunatic in the White House was its “person of the year” in 2016, just before he took office. He said he expected the accolade again this year, and indeed he’s the 2018 runner-up. If he had known this, Khashoggi himself would surely turn in his grave – wherever the Saudis eventually reveal it to be
‘The Guardians’ named Time magazine’s Person of the Year
But fair enough. Trump is fighting a war against truth, and it’s a noble gesture to whack a crackpot president by honouring those who oppose his kind of mendacity, even unto death. Many believe – as I suspect – that the five staff at the Annapolis newspaper would be alive today if Trump had not already accused us all of being “enemies of the people”. The “enemies” and journalists like Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, are – or should be regarded as – “friends of the people”. But they are clearly regarded as enemies by Trumpites and supporters of dictator Duterte and the military masters of Myanmar.
Of course, I did look at Time’s list of names to see if Yasser Murtaja, the brave Palestinian cameraman shot dead by an Israeli sniper in April, made it to their hall of honour. He was hailed by The Nation magazine. Like Khashoggi, he gave his life for telling – or in his case, filming – the truth, the Palestinian protests at the Gaza border. But maybe he wasn’t filming a truth which Americans or Time magazine are ready to accept, or to talk too much about without becoming “controversial”: the oppression of the people of Gaza.