Memo: Proper Journalists Ought to be Subservient to Power

Journalist Sam Husseini was suspended from The National Press Club for asking a Saudi Prince a tough question. His punishment indicates precisely what is wrong with journalism in this country.

At his blog, Husseini offers the transcript of the exchange. His part may be difficult to hear so here it is:

Husseini: There’s been a lot of talk about the legitimacy of the Syrian regime, I want to know what legitimacy your regime has sir. You come before us, representative of one of the most autocratic, misogynistic regimes on the face of the earth. Human Rights Watch and other reports of torture detention of activist, you squelched the democratic uprising in Bahrain, you tried to overturn the democratic uprising in Egypt and indeed you continue to oppress your own people. What legitimacy does you regime have — other than billions of dollars and weapons?

Husseini writes:

Later that afternoon, I got an email with the notice of suspension signed by McCarren. The letter states: “We are suspending your membership for two weeks, effective immediately, due to your conduct at a news conference held at the National Press Club on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. Your action was in direct violation of House Rule 4 and grounds for immediate suspension.

“House Rule No. 4 states: ‘Boisterous and unseemly conduct or language in or about the Club premises or in connection with any Club-sponsored event is prohibited. Any member so offending shall be liable for immediate suspension by any Member of the board or the manager or his designee pending investigation by the board, which shall render final action.’

“This matter will be review ed by the Club’s Ethics Committee. A meeting will be scheduled prior to the end of your two week suspension to discuss your conduct and the violation. The Chairperson of the Ethics Committee will contact you to schedule the meeting.

“In the meantime, you should not come to the Club or use its facilities for any reason.”

The charge is false. I did not engage in “boisterous and unseemly conduct or language” — I engaged in tough journalism with a powerful government official from an autocratic regime that is allied with the U.S. government. This apparently warrants suspension from the National Press Club in Executive Director McCarren’s view.

29 thoughts on “Memo: Proper Journalists Ought to be Subservient to Power”

  1. "What legitimacy does you regime have — other than billions of dollars and weapons?"

    Solid Gold.

  2. It was crap that Husseini was suspended for this. He asked a good, tough question and didn’t, in any plausible sense of the term, become boisterous. Interestingly, also, though, the Prince had a pretty good answer, referring to U.S. history. I especially liked that he got right when the United States was founded, or at least got it within 2 years of the correct year, which is better than Lincoln did in his Gettysburg address.

    1. I especially liked that he got right when the United States was founded, or at least got it within 2 years of the correct year, which is better than Lincoln did in his Gettysburg address.

      Or, for that matter, better than the average pig-ignorant politician or the pig-ignorant sheeple said politician "represents."

  3. Journalist Sam Husseini!!! You the man! More than servile of the National Press Club. Hmmm, they should probably change their name. National Pressitutes Cowardly. Yeah, that'd work.

  4. Sam your a dum ass learn some manners. I am i U.S. Citizen and have lived in Saudi Arabia for over 4 years and have seen nothing but good from it.. they give billions to help the poor and their people.
    Please dont be ignorant and make us look stupid like you did.

    1. Kudos, Mike. I can't see how one could state your case any better. You are truly a credit to your communtiy.

    2. Uhm.. wow,man. LIke, you R so smart I wsh I cud C as gud as U. Gee Y don't U run fro president of Arabiac country U R so Smart. I wnt 2 B as unignorant N unstupid sound as U. Everbudy nos Arabiac countery love Obama. Hoo cares hoo thay cill? Thay R nice guyz any way. And they have R oyl 2!

      And why shouldn't anyone who sees your inability or indifference to using correct spelling and grammar (coupled with your incredibly penetrating insights) think "your a dum ass", as you expressed so perfectly in character.
      If you aren't in the military you certainly missed your career calling, as clearly you love sucking up to and supporting brutal authoritarian power structures.

  5. He did provoke the prince. He knew that the prince would not be able to answer that question in a way satisfactory to Sam Husseini, or in a way that would be acceptable to the prince's own government. So yes, it was a good question, if negatively provocative, and the backlash by the press club was overreacting, in my opinion–but there was no way that question was going to be answered by that person. It wasn't a question to open dialogue or to shed light on why S.A. does the things they do. It was a rhetorical question and didn't really have a place at that conference other than to rile people up and put the prince on the defensive.

    1. I agree, and I'm no fan of S.A.; but I'd go further and say that the question was more than just "rhetorical." It was really a speech by Husseini, with a question tagged on at the end. Still, I don't see it as "boisterous" and the Pusillanimous Pussyfooters of the Press Club overreacted.

    2. Yeah… there ya go. Another of those damn reporters who still doesn't understand his stenographic responsibilities. Disturbing a perfectly peaceful and compliant press club meeting. The nerve of that guy, thinking there's something to do beyond copying down what he's told and obeying the rules! Sheesh, some people.

  6. Oh my God. This story needs to be blown up and not let go. Where are the prominent journalists speaking out about this?

  7. The question was completely legitimate. As legitimate as any question ever asked in a situation like that. The use of the word “misogynistic” was probably the only subjective part of what he said. Everything is a simple fact, even for the most hopeless of cultural relativists. Thus, he was asking: how do you reconcile these facts with your position?

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  9. The club is for the kind of 'journalist' who channels warmongering misinfo, like Judy Miller, and who works for the dying Lamestream Media. Who needs it or them?____Off your knees, presstitutes.

  10. I have to agree with Bran.

    The question was far too long and provocative and ultimately Turki managed to brush it off making Husseini look silly.

    Husseini I think is a typical media talking head, he droned on about democracy (as if democracy is a good thing) and ranted about the Saudi regime oppressing its people but seemingly demonstrated little actual knowledge of Saudi internal or foreign affairs and blew an opportunity to ask a question on a specific issue that would have allowed for real dialogue with Turki.

    So the question was very poorly framed and executed but it was certainly not boisterous or worthy of expulsion.

  11. This went down according to the corporate media playbook: if you challenge the power elites, you will be punished.

  12. The "question" was long but the National Propaganda Clubs response was idiotic. These stenographic cowards vomit the usual talking points by rote and have little independent thought. And the over use of the word "democracy" is laughable. The biggest peddler of that myth is the one bombing the hell out of people half a world away. To Uncle Scam, and his posse, Democracy is like Viagra: just a tool to help him screw someone.

  13. I think that Sam’s question hit the nail on the head, because all the autocratic Arab regimes that agreed to the NATO aggression against Libya, and are now working towards the same aims – with different methods- towards Syria, all parroted the line spouted by Western officials that “this regime has lost its legitimacy”. So the question is relevant and extremely important.

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