(TPM) - Articles written by conservative American pundits, but paid for with money from the government of Malaysia, appeared in a number of U.S. media outlets between 2008 and 2011,BuzzFeed reported on Friday.
The news came out of a filing that conservative commentator and RedState co-founder Joshua Treviño recently made with the U.S. Department of Justice. The disclosure, which was made in late January under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), detailed how Treviño was paid $389,724.70 by the “[g]overnment of Malaysia, its ruling party, or interests closely aligned with either” between May 2008 and April 2011. According to the filing, Treviño did not deal directly with Malaysian representatives or officials. Instead, he had relationships with and was paid by three groups: the British firm FBC Media, the lobbying firm APCO Worldwide, and the now-shuttered online consulting firm David All Group.
Treviño was paid to blog at two websites — malaysiamatters.com and malaysiawatcher.com — which have now gone dark, and also to generate and secure the placement of opinion pieces in U.S. media outlets. The FARA filing also details how Treviño paid thousands of dollars to ten other writers — including the conservative writer Ben Demenech, American Center for Democracy director Rachel Ehrenfeld, and Commentary editor Seth Mandel — to write opinion pieces.
According to BuzzFeed, work tied to the Malaysian money appeared in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Examiner, The Washington Times, National Review, and RedState, and much of the work focused on the campaign against Anwar Ibrahim, a pro-democracy opposition leader in Malaysia. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Treviño called the arrangement “a fairly standard PR operation.”
“To be blunt with you, and I think the filing is clear about this, it was a lot looser than a typical PR operation,” Treviño told the website. “I wanted to respect these guys’ independence and not have them be placement machines.”
Whispers of Treviño’s connection to the Malaysian government surfaced in the Malaysian press in July 2011, and the story was picked up by Ben Smith, who was then blogging at Politico and is now the editor of BuzzFeed. At the time, Treviño denied that he was on “any ‘Malaysian entity’s payroll’” and, when asked why he had not registered as a foreign agent, replied that he was “confident I am within the law.” A year later, however, Treviño left a gig at The Guardian after failing to disclose his ties to “Malaysian business interests” in a column.
Read more at: http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/03/joshua_trevino_malaysia.php