It’s easy to understand why the Washington Post are taking the Jamal Khashoggi affair more personally than the rest of the media. After all, the Saudi columnist had written for Jeff Bezos’s paper for over a year at the time of his murder. But their way of paying tribute to the Muslim Brotherhood-sympathizing activist is an unusual one: tripling their attention on Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s much-maligned neighbor.
As a Post subscriber, Cockburn had noticed the amount of Yemen coverage ticking up over the last few weeks. Of course, there’s a lot to say about the Gulf state, what with the famine and the regular bombings. But had the Post increased the amount of attention they’ve given the nation since their columnist was murdered by its arch-enemy?
At the time of printing, the Post had published 879 posts featuring the word ‘Yemen’ on washingtonpost.com in 2018. Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018 – 59 days ago. In the 59 days preceding his death, the Post had published 100 posts containing ‘Yemen’.
Of those 100, Khashoggi himself had authored three: two columns, one of which was translated into Arabic in a separate posts. And during that period, there were 14 days in which no articles featuring the word ‘Yemen’ were published.
Compare that to their coverage over the last 59 days.
362 posts containing the word ‘Yemen’ on washingtonpost.com since October 2. And there’s only been one day when the country got no coverage on the Post website. On Wednesday alone, there were 22 posts with the word ‘Yemen’ in.
Now, there could be other explanations for the increase in coverage – for example, has there been an increase in newsworthy events in Yemen since Khashoggi’s death? Cockburn asked Middle East expert John R. Bradley, who didn’t seem to think so.
‘The situation in Yemen has not suddenly gotten three times worse in the past two months,’ Bradley said.
‘During the three preceding years, there were a steady stream of human rights outrages and atrocities. The only thing that has changed is that the Post now considers the issue three times more important, in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder.’
This obviously isn’t the coverage Mohammed bin Salman would want to see from the West. And that, of course, is the point.