This year’s Times Square New Year’s Eve bash will have a theme, according to New York City’s Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment commission: a celebration of the downtrodden, oppressed members of the mainstream media.
Every year, ABC News reports, the Times Square Alliance selects a charity honoree for the celebration, and this year, that charity is media watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists, which monitors attacks on the press across the globe.
“On New Year’s Eve we look back and reflect on the major events of the past year, we look forward with a sense of hope, and we celebrate the people and things we value most,” the Times Square Alliance said in a statement made to media. “This year, we’re celebrating the free press and journalism and those who work to protect, preserve and practice it.”
The committee was motivated to declare themselves allies of the press “after Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside of the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey,” but also because, they believe, journalists came under fire more often in 2018 than ever before, particularly from world leaders like President Donald Trump (of course).
Breaking with tradition, the Committee will welcome a veritable “who’s who” of the mainstream media to the top of Times Square to press the button that triggers the Times Square ball drop, the Hill adds. Guests include “Rebecca Blumenstein, New York Times deputy managing editor, Alisyn Camerota, CNN New Day anchor, Vladimir Duthiers, CBS News correspondent and CBSN anchor, Edward Feisenthal, Time Magazine editor-in-chief, Lester Holt, NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC anchor, Matt Murray, Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief, [and] Martha Raddatz, ABC News chief global affairs correspondent and This Week co-anchor.”
Time Magazine, included among the honorees, recently awarded its “person of the year” honor to journalists as well, putting Khashoggi on the cover of its annual collector’s issue. That’s likely no coincidence: Khashoggi will play a front-and-center role at the celebration, and his former editor, The Washington Post’s Karen Attiah, will have a place of honor during the ball drop.
But even as he is sainted by New York’s elite, recent reports indicate that Khashoggi may have been more than just a journalist who ran afoul of a world power. As the Daily Wire reported last week, a new, explosive report revealed that Khasoggi “may have been a foreign agent.”
Writing in The Federalist, Jim Hanson, president of Security Studies Group and a former member of U.S. Special Forces, notes that the Post admitted in an article on December 21 that an executive at Qatar Foundation International worked with Khashoggi to influence Khashoggi’s columns so they aggressively targeted the Saudi government. The Post wrote, “Text messages between Khashoggi and an executive at Qatar Foundation International show that the executive, Maggie Mitchell Salem, at times shaped the columns he submitted to The Washington Post, proposing topics, drafting material and prodding him to take a harder line against the Saudi government.” Hanson notes, “The Qatar Foundation denies they were paying him to produce the anti-Saudi material.”
More importantly, though, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists wants to send a message that reporters will not back down from “speaking truth to power.”
“The group of journalists who will join us on stage to inaugurate the countdown to 2019 are highly distinguished,” the group’s executive director told the Huffington Post. “They are also representatives of all journalists in the United States, and around the world who work hard every day to keep their communities informed and hold the powerful to account. It’s the freedom to do this critical work that we celebrate.