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Journalism as Cutter and Cuttee in the Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Doug Garland
Doug Garland
6 min read
Journalism as Cutter and Cuttee in the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
"Where Have All the Tall Poppies Gone?"

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A free press can, of course, be both good and bad, but, most certainly, without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad. Albert Camus.
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Journalism is a galvanizing business these days. It takes courage to report the truth which may end in TPS or worse (such as death). In America, the enemy is not only from the outside but within. We cut down our own.

Jamal Khashoggi was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia in 1958 into a family of wealthy traders. After studying business administration at Indiana State University in the U.S., he returned to Saudi Arabia as a journalist, reporter, and editor for various Saudi newspapers and publications.

From 1991 to 1999, he was an editor for the Saudi Arabian daily newspaper Al Medina. From 2003 to 2007, he served as editor-in-chief of the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al Watan. In the 2000s, he acted as a media aide to several Saudi princes and senior royals. In 2017  he fell out of favor with the Saudi leadership due to his criticism of policies under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi moved to the United States in self-imposed exile. He became a columnist for The Washington Post's Global Opinions section writing articles criticizing the Saudi government's policies and the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. His columns openly criticized the Saudi regime and the crown prince. They focused on topics like freedom of expression, Saudi Arabia's involvement in the Yemen war, and the rights of Saudi women.

He also gave speeches and interviews while in the U.S., continuing to advocate for more freedom and democracy in the Arab world.

Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on September 28, 2018, to obtain the documents required for him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. He went there to get a document certifying that he was divorced from his previous wife, which he needed to be able to marry Cengiz under Islamic law. He was told it would be necessary to return to pick up the new document. He returned on October 2nd for that purpose.

However, once inside the consulate building that day, Khashoggi was ambushed, killed, and allegedly dismembered by a team of Saudi operatives who had flown in from Riyadh.

His fiancée waited outside the consulate for hours, but he never emerged. His disappearance and subsequent confirmation of his murder by Saudi agents sparked an enormous international outcry and condemnation of Saudi Arabia.

Evan Gershkovich, 31, is an American journalist arrested in Russia in March 2023 on espionage charges while working as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Russia's Foreign Ministry accredited him to work as a journalist in the country. Gershkovich was detained on March 29, 2023, in Yekaterinburg, a city in western Russia. The FSB security service accused him of "espionage in the interests of the U.S. government."

Gershkovich, his employer, and the U.S. government has vehemently denied the espionage allegations, calling them baseless. The Wall Street Journal said he was pursuing news interviews as part of his journalistic work.

The arrest increased tensions between the U.S. and Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. It was the first time an American journalist was detained on espionage accusations in Russia since the Cold War era.

In May 2023, Russia officially declared Gershkovich as having "committed a crime." It moved to formally open a criminal case against him on charges that could carry up to 20 years in prison if convicted. After a year in prison, a Moscow court rejected an appeal by Gershkovich against his detention. He will remain behind bars until at least June 30 when his trial may finally begin.

James Bennett (see James Bennet, The New York Times editorial-page chief, Becomes a Victim of the Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS). Movements, Politics, and the Press as cutters).

Uri Berliner is a 25-year veteran of National Public Radio and describes himself as the stereotypical NPR listener: “raised by a lesbian peace activist mother” and a Subaru driver with a Spotify playlist “most similar to people in Berkeley.” On April 4, 2024, he authored "I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust" on The Free Press. He also did a podcast with Bari Weiss, founder of The Free Press. (It should be noted that Weiss was Bennet's compatriot and left the New York Times under duress shortly after Bennett's departure.)

Notably, 87 registered Democrats worked in editorial positions and zero Republicans. In 2011, the listener audience comprised 26% conservative, 23% middle of the road, and 37% liberal; by 2023, the numbers were 11 % conservative, 21 % middle of the road, and 67 % liberal. What changed? Probably Donald Trump, whose election win drove "disbelief, anger, and despair" among NPR's staff.

Their unbridled bias is best noted by the way NPR handled the so-called Russian collusion. The most credible, informed, powerful, and prominent opponent was Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He became their reliable and predictable mouthpiece and was interviewed approximately 25 times regarding the alleged Trump and Russia collusion. Heck, Schiff even insinuated the committee had hard evidence of the collusion.

But the Muller report found no credible evidence of collusion. Coverage and their mouthpiece melted like icebergs at the equator. Berliner goes on to discuss other subjects such as the Hunter Biden laptop "no story" so as not to help Trump and the ideological storylines for Covid and George Floyd and systemic racism.

On April 12, Berliner was given a five-day suspension without pay. Berliner resigned on April 17.

The perverseness of this case study is illuminating. A Tall Poppy with integrity and courage is cut down and loses his job. NPR, lacking introspection, went into denial mode and continued its biased business-as-usual reporting. A lying cutter runt poppy (The Tall Poppy Syndrome: The Joy of Cutting Others Down) suffers no consequences and will likely win a seat in the US Senate.

Ronna McDaniel was born Ronna Romney in 1973 in Austin, Texas. Her father is wealthy businessman Scott Romney, older brother to Mitt while her grandfather is former Michigan Governor and businessman George W. Romney. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Brigham Young University in 1998 with a degree in Corporate Communications. She married Patrick McDaniel in 2003.

After college, she worked in the private sector, including stints in the advertising, graphic design, and consulting industries before transitioning to politics. She was the chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 2015-2017. McDaniel served as Republican National Committee (RNC) chair since 2017, being re-elected to a fourth term in 2023.

McDaniel was prolific in fundraising and a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump. During her tenure, the RNC ran ads for Trump's 2020 campaigns, planted numerous Trump campaign workers on the RNC payroll, spent appreciable funds at Trump-owned properties, paid Trump's legal fees during the Russian interference investigation, and criticized Trump critics within the Republican Party. She hosted Trump's "Fake News Awards" which featured news outlets that he claimed were responsible for misrepresenting him or producing false reports.

McDaniel and the RNC made claims of voter fraud after Joe Biden's 2020 election victory.  In 2022, she organized a censure of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the two Republicans who served on the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

In short, she was all in for Trump. But, on March 8, 2024, McDaniel resigned as the RNC chair at the request of Donald Trump after his victory in the 2024 South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

Her talents were quickly sought by left-leaning networks who wanted conservative views ahead of the presidential election.  CNN and ABC News were in pursuit of her services.

On March 22, 2024, NBC News announced it had hired McDaniel as a contributor. She was scheduled to appear on all NBC News platforms including MSNBC, a network she once described as the home of "primetime propagandists." Reaction was swift by employees especially some of its hosts who questioned/objected to the decision on air. Within days, she was cut down!

"Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be journalists." Journalists around the world, if they are doing their job, are harassed, intimidated, cut down, imprisoned, and murdered. Reporters Without Borders claims 543 reporters are detained worldwide. A decline or lack of government support is partially to blame.

Media outlets play to their bases rather than report the news. The ownership determines the direction and hires hosts to fit that narrative. News feeds are directed toward the targeted audience (bias confirmation). If a host varies from the grail, they are cut down from within.

Journalists require TP traits - verity, courage, fortitude, and justice. Reporting the truth requires selfless acts and servitude which may be a price too heavy to abide.

journalismnprtpstall poppy syndromepoliticstraits

Doug Garland Twitter

Douglas Garland, M.D. practiced orthopedic surgery for 37 years in Southern California. Doug was also a Clinical Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Southern California.

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