Whether Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah, generally considered an ally of America, was a “friend” to the United States is up for debate. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday praised King Abdullah as not only a friend but a revered leader, and a man of vision and wisdom.

Kerry’s praise actually seems reserved compared to some headlines; not surprisingly, the Saudi Gazette lauded the king for ushering in “The golden era for Saudi women.” Similarly, the International Business Times wrote that “Late Saudi King Abdullah Leaves (Relative) Legacy As Women’s Rights Advocate.” The word “relative” does serve as a vast disclaimer — that is, once it was added by an editor.

An earlier version of the story painted the late King Abdullah as an advocate for women’s rights in absolute terms. A mention that the definition was apt in the Saudi context, while not by Western standards, that had been dropped in editing has since been restored. 

We don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but we don’t mind if you do.

International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde, who is at the Davos economic forum in Switzerland, called King Abdullah “a strong advocate of women,” albeit “in a very discreet way.”

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