Of Course Journalists Should Interview Autocrats

Graeme Wood in The Atlantic:

Thursday morning, after the publication of my profile of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in the April issue of The Atlantic, Saudi Arabia’s propaganda machine cranked into operation. For the rest of the day, I watched it work: attempting to hide the uncomfortable parts (in my article I made numerous observations that would get a Saudi journalist imprisoned or worse), amplifying the parts the government liked, and straight-up lying about others. Two Saudi insiders have told me that my access to Saudi Arabia is finished after the story’s publication, and that the crown prince will “never” see me again.

The government also leaked to the Saudi news channel Al Arabiya an edited—and scrubbed—transcript of the interview with MBS that I’d conducted alongside The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg. The official Saudi edits were helpful, because close comparisons between their versions and what was actually said will direct you to what the crown prince’s media team wishes to suppress—a guide, curated by the government, to the interview’s juicy bits (or at least the ones they thought they could get away with deleting from the record).

More here.