“All journalism is an attempt to bring readers things they do not know, and all interviews with heads of state involve getting them to say things they wish they had not said. To elicit these utterances, one must approach the subject sideways—and, most of all, keep him talking, and reveal more than he intends to say. “Giving a platform”—to use the cliché that imprisons the minds of those who don’t know how journalism is done, or what its purpose is—is not a favor bestowed on important people. It is an invitation to walk the boards and fall through trap doors. And that is exactly what Saudi officials themselves, whose past two days have been spent desperately fluffing pillows for a soft landing below, seem to think their ruler did.”

Graeme Wood defending his recent profile of Mohammed bin Salman in The Atlantic. It’s a spirited defense, timeless in its observations about what good journalism is. Wood’s profile was terrific: startling and uncomfortable, a glimpse into a terrifying and powerful mind. The idea that this kind of journalism should somehow be avoided over some misguided fear of providing a ‘platform’ to those we hate is an embarrassment to those who uttered it. As Wood puts it: “Anyone who tells you otherwise does not understand the purpose of journalism.”

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