A couple weeks ago I posted a blog with the story and video of journalist Sam Husseini who asked a Saudi official a tough question and was subsequently suspended from the National Press Club. The incident was not only indicative of the embarrassing journalistic culture in this country – one that instinctively gushes deference to authority as opposed to strict scrutiny – but it was also an indication of the Good Guys/Bad Guys reality of U.S. foreign policy. Saudi Arabia is one of our most highly valued allies, you see…we’re supposed to be nice to them and whitewash their tyranny because, you know…our betters in Washington support it.
Husseini has written a piece on the incident and it can be read at Foreign Policy in Focus. Here are excerpts on what he thinks about journalism:
Journalism is in crisis and it must be reinvented for its own good and for the good of society as a whole. A substantial part of that re-invention is the capacity to ask tough questions of powerful officials. Being a journalist in essence isn’t about “credentials” and professional affiliations. It’s about the practice of it.
…Real journalism is asking tough questions of all the players. Or, more appropriately, asking the toughest questions of the most powerful. Too often, I’ve seen reporters fawn over a figure more the more powerful they are. That I think is exactly the wrong instinct.
…The Ethics Committee, despite the secretive process, has an opportunity to rescind my suspension and issue an apology. Hopefully the members will do the right thing.