Don't Let's Discuss the Legitimacy of the Saudi Government, MMkay?


Reporter Sam Husseini gets booted from National Press Club membership for some hostile questions aimed at Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal; he's pissed

The tough question:

There's been a lot of talk about the legitimacy of the Syrian regime, I want to know what legitimacy your regime has, sir. You come before us, representative of one of the most autocratic, misogynistic regimes on the face of the earth. Human Rights Watch and other reports of torture detention of activist, you squelched the democratic uprising in Bahrain, you tried to overturn the democratic uprising in Egypt, and indeed you continue to oppress your own people. What legitimacy does your regime have — other than billions of dollars and weapons?

The Washington Post on the incident with the Press Club's side:

National Press Club Executive Director William McCarren got involved, pushing Husseini to simply pose his question. That way, other folks in the room would get a chance to pose questions, whether or not they were prefaced by tendentious monologues….

McCarren and Husseini later clashed in the hallway. The back-and-forth between the two men, says McCarren, disrupted the proceedings at the Faisal press conference. "I said, 'Let's talk about this, but can you move down the hallway so that the room does not have to hear all of this?'?" recalls McCarren. "He wouldn't move."….

The press club doesn't consider Husseini a journalist — merely a "communicator" in the club's membership lexicon. That's because Husseini, according to McCarren, doesn't make the "bulk of his money from journalism."

Says McCarren: "Journalists have a few checks on them. If you came in with the purpose of disturbing the event, [if] you have no editor, it's a different equation than a journalist who's trying to be objective, trying to get a good question asked. I'd rather the hard questions be asked by journalists than non-journalists."

Anyone who has been at a public Q and A knows "tendentious monologues" are as common as bored yawns, but this was a particularly interesting one. Husseini was charged with violating Press Club rules about "boisterous and unseemly" content and stripped of his membership privileges; is boisterousness in the pursuit of making someone defend a government's legitimacy a crime?

I'm actually curious what Barack Obama would say off the cuff if similarly challenged about his government's legitimacy. (Not in any birther way–not the legitimacy of his role in the government–the legitimacy of the U.S. government itself.)

I blog, you decide: The incident, coming alive on your very own computer or handheld computing-style device:

NEXT: Chu Review: "Unbowed," "troubling," "failed," "well played," "clueless" "unflappable"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. In the video no one is gasping or clutching their pearls. It all seemed pretty routine for them. The only people upset were HRH and his host.

  2. The fourth estate has fallen into disrepair.

  3. My deepest apologies to the Saudi Royal Family – may I offer up a daughter to be publicly executed in your capital, in order to make amends for this grievous insult? Or perhaps cutting out the tongue of Mr. Husseini would be more to your liking? I realize the good Prince is not used to public criticism

    1. Don’t worry about your daughter. Just send us $ so that we can give it to Al Qaeda so that they can kill you. Thanks again.

  4. Saudio El Rabio is a piece of shit. Fuck your stupid sandy kingdom, turds.

  5. I’m actually curious what Barack Obama would say off the cuff . . .

    Uh, ummm, is this thing on? Let me be perfectly, err, clear . . .

    1. “That idiot Biden, I have to deal with him every day…”

    2. “Let me be clear, condemning and hunting down Qaddafi just needed to be done. After all, he out there was killing his own citizens.”

  6. What is it about Americans that causes them to butt in on other people’s business?

    Sure, fundamentalist Muslim society is repressive in many ways, but that’s their problem. The US has plenty of problems with repression itself, and Americans should mind their own business.

    If Saudi Arabia is so bad, why aren’t Saudi nationals emigrating? Compare with Iraq: large numbers of Iraqis, particularly Christians and secularists, have emigrated from the country since the Americans have so carefully and altruistically liberated it.

    1. The US gives SA a shitload of money & assistance. I think that’s a good enough reason for a journalist to get up in their shit. It’s a better reason to stop giving them money and assistance, but the man’s a report. That’s his fucking (part-time evidently) jerb!

      1. Of all the regimes the reporter listed, only Saudi Arabia is not falling into control of the Muslim Brotherhood.

      2. citation needed for the money that the US government “gives” Saudi Arabia. SA is not among the recipients of US aid.

    2. What is it about some libertarians that causes them to ignore the difference between the personal and the political? No one has an obligation to shut up and ignore injustice anywhere for any reason. Putting an autocrat on the spot with uncomfortable questions is too intrusive? What the hell?

    3. Is CatoTheElder some kind of ironic joke handle for your request that the US mind its own business? Cato the Elder tirelessly advocated destroying another country, Carthage.

  7. The Saudi official’s response:

    1) Come to Saudi Arabia and see it for yourself before you judge it.

    That’s not an option, because there are many Americans who Saudi Arabia will not let in:

    Saudi Arabia, which is governed by strict Islamic law, requires citizens of almost every country to obtain a visa. People who wish to enter the country must have a sponsor; women, who must be dressed according to Saudi standards of modesty, must be met at the Saudi airport by a man who will act as a chaperone.

    Saudi Arabia bans anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport from entering the country, even in transit. Many Jews believe the kingdom has also withheld visas from travelers with Jewish-sounding names.

    Religious items such as Bibles that are not related to Islam may be confiscated at the airport.


    More information on Saudi Visa restrictions: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrar…..diban.html

    2) He asked if America’s government was illegitimate before woman had the right to vote.

    Most American historians say it was illegitimate back then.

    3) He said that Saudi Arabia should get some slack for being a young country.

    Sorry, but all people are equal. Saudi Arabia can’t claim special exemptions by calling itself primitive.

    1. >He asked if America’s government was illegitimate before woman had the right to vote.

      It’s been illegitimate for a lot longer than that. See Lysander Spooner’s work for the specifics.


  8. “Most American historians say [the American govt] was illegitimate back [when women couldn’t vote]”

    What? Which historians? Howard Zinn, of course. Probably Foner. Am I OK so far? Who else?

    1. Did Mercy Otis Warren think the American govt was illegitimate during and after the Revolution?

    1. TMBG – I don’t like their Turkophilia.

  9. You have to give prince turki credit – he knows how to handle an audience. Even if his response was largely bullshit deflection.

    1. “Oil answer the question, although I think the questioner was somewhat crude. But if he insists on drilling – I mean grilling me, then let me say that in our kingdom we all mean *well.* I am excited by our progress in human rights, in fact I am pumped. Oh, and oil.”

  10. Not a good article to trigger the “Meet your Arab Princess” ad.

    A reader of this article would be like, “Yeah – then I get to meet her brother, Scimitar Said the Saudi. No, I’d rather keep my head, thank you.”

  11. The Saud family was given the power to rule Arabia as a gift from the British Empire, to thank them for sending some of their slaves and other minions to attack some minor outposts of the Turkish army during the first world war.

    Who are we to question a gift of the British Empire? After all, Britannia rules the waves!

    …Oh, wait.


  12. It seems this article is much to do with me as are many. There is some mis understanding. I am the one trying to stop the Bahrain from fighting and the Egypt thing. Obama/Clinton instigators to get my inheritance claims. I am the oppressed prisoner of the US government because I outrank them and they are not legit..Most not even citizen anymore just criminals trying to find a way to stay out of prison and cash in doing it at our expense(your and mine).. and yes I have a Saudi father also and matches–potentially a husband there that the US has tried to hide and keep away from me.. As for the comment of holding on to your pearls, you did not read well and for the record the pearls spoken are not yours.. the scripture you refer to is giving up your own not something that you stole or a debt you owe.. so do you eyes to see and ears to hear?? your own some have been stealing those also.. As far as the Britain comment and giving Saudi power..power to stop this game and it with some others not just Saudi..for the record my title(s) are all over not just associated with Britain.. but that is another thing they are claiming and they use to power hell.. the programmed one we are living in to stop Allah/God Almighty’s from fighting with you .. so keep giving it all away will destruct as do onto others as you wish to have done to you also applies..

  13. Here is another to look up ..the ride on the white Arabian has already occurred.. Why is the dragon in existence?? (more than 1 time in the 1970’s and as recent as the last year?? ) they only got 40 months not 40 years and it was present the day of the Kennedy assassination ..its in the background.. so 40 months way past expired!!!!!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.