Still, the unexamined dictatorship never changes. An observable pattern in economics is that if you subsidize a certain behavior, you get more of the same. This is also true in journalism; heap fondness or inattention on a crooked regime, and it’s likely to maintain or intensify its grip. Too many journalists have subsidized Tunisia with coddling coverage of its economic success, gleaming shores, and espresso-scented sidewalks. It’s tempting, I know. I’m writing on a sunny hotel balcony overlooking a street that could be Rome’s.

But this is the Bill Cosby version of Tunisia, not the unvarnished one, and the people that live in the real Tunisia deserve more critical eyes on their handlers.

Justin D. Martin is a journalism professor at Northwestern University in Qatar. Follow him on Twitter: @Justin_D_Martin