“A range of mainstream American publications printed paid propaganda for the government of Malaysia, much of it focused on the campaign against a pro-democracy figure there.
The payments to conservative American opinion writers — whose work appeared in outlets from the Huffington Post and San Francisco Examiner to the Washington Times to National Review and RedState — emerged in a filing this week to the Department of Justice. The filing under the Foreign Agent Registration Act outlines a campaign spanning May 2008 to April 2011 and led by Joshua Trevino, a conservative pundit, who received $389,724.70 under the contract and paid smaller sums to a series of conservative writers….
Trevino’s subcontractors included conservative writer Ben Domenech, who made $36,000 from the arrangement, and Rachel Ehrenfeld, the director of the American Center for Democracy, who made $30,000. Seth Mandel, an editor at Commentary, made $5,500. Brad Jackson, writing at the time for RedState, made $24,700. Overall, 10 writers were part of the arrangement.”
You take secret, undisclosed money from a foreign government to write hit pieces in U.S. media against a man, in this case Anwar Ibrahim, who is struggling to bring democracy to his country and was beaten and imprisoned for years for daring to challenge the dictatorial government? (Russia has apparently run similar pay-to-say operations.)
Much of Trevino’s work under the Malaysian contract has been removed by the outlets that published it. But you can get a taste of its amoral quality from this piece that was published as a rebuttal to a Trevino column.
And here’s a Rachel Ehrenfeld piece, condemning Ibrahim for “careless sexual behavior” among other things.
We already know of course that “you can’t believe everything that’s on the Internet.” But paid agents of foreign governments masquerading as American journalists takes things to a dangerous level and says a lot about the character of those involved.
UPDATE: Among those named as receiving money from Malaysia in Trevino’s belated filing as a foreign agent is Christopher Badeaux. Here’s a small sampling of his Malaysia-related work at RedState.com:
“Najib Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, has been on a more or less singular crusade to convince the Muslim world — and the West — that there is a path for moderate Islam in the world, that Islam does not equal terror, and that the taking of a life is contrary to Islam and civilization. His speech at Oxford was of a piece with that….
The salient point here is not whether we agree with the prime minister’s theological assertions, but rather we can appreciate the extraordinary effort he is making here, and the importance for the United States of his efforts.”
In Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Malaysia’s opposition, has apparently been caught in adultery, with video evidence that Dartmouth scientists say nearly certainly implicates him. The major dailies are calling on him to resign. For three years, after failing to topple the governing party in the 2008 elections, he has crisscrossed the planet telling anyone and everyone who would listen how corrupt and evil the governing party is. And yet despite all of this — despite his stated certainty that his opposition coalition of socialists, Islamists, and yuppie liberals is the only chance his country has to avoid certain doom at the hands of the centrist coalition that has been re-elected time and again in Malaysia, he has refused to resign.”
– Jay Bookman