The Trump administration's tepid response to the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi serves as a green light for tyrants around the world to escalate their attacks on the media.
Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan drove that point home during his appearance at the Capitol Hill remembrance of Khashoggi on Jan. 10, the 100thday anniversary of his torture, murder and dismemberment at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.
"The brutality of Jamal's murder, reported to be on the orders of the Crown Prince—the extensive Saudi efforts to cover it up—and our government's apparent willingness to accept these repeated lies—have shocked the conscience of freedom-loving people around the world," said Ryan.
The US response to the assassination "demonstrates how committed we are to a fundamental American value: support for a free press both at home and abroad," he said.
Trump's lack of response speaks volumes.
Ryan noted the role of the free press is to cut through propaganda and deliver the truth.
"American voters need to know which countries are friends, and which are foes, so they can evaluate our foreign policy and hold elected officials accountable," said Ryan.
Honest information is fundamental to our freedom, noted Ryan, "and any policy by any government that silences reporters and restricts access to this information, is an attack on our country and everything we stand for."
Ryan said the world is watching how America will respond to the challenge. "We should not allow the size of a tyrant's checkbook to blind us to the importance of standing up for our values."
Minus leadership from the White House, Ryan wants Congress "to demand full and immediate transparency" into the Khashoggi killing.
Ryan said the Congressional message to tyrants around the world shoud be: "If you jail, if your torture, or if you murder a journalist, there will be serious consequences."