Heroic Right Wing Columnists Taking Malaysian Bribe Money, Is That Not OK?

  time for a bloggers ethics panel

This is clearly all Ben Stiller's fault.When Buzzfeed tells you that a “covert Malaysian campaign touched a wide range Of American media,” do not go thinking it is actually a “wide range.” The covert campaign touched a cabal of flag-waving right-wing columnists who, it seems, are so pumped about the free market that they are willing to just take money in exchange for their integrity.

Turns out the ginger nightmare known as “conservative pundit” Josh Trevino has been moonlighting as a bagman for the Malaysian government and its “campaign against a pro-democracy figure there,” according to a scoopy-scoop from Buzzfeed, which took a break from cat pictures and listicles to punch a bunch of commentators square in the willy.

To think, we have been trying to solicit bribes from the Syrians, and the Malaysians were paying this whole time!

Trevino was given almost $400,000 to lobby for the Malaysian government, according to a federal filing Trevino conveniently had no clue he was supposed to be filling out for like three years. He then dished out payments to writers at the Huffington Post, San Francisco Examiner, Washington Times, National Review, and his home site,RedState.com. The 10 rightwing writers on his payroll made as much as $36,000 as part of the deal.

Trevino, of course, sees nothing wrong with any of this! It’s totally cool, you guys, really.

“It was actually a fairly standard PR operation,” Trevino told BuzzFeed Friday.

If “a fairly standard PR operation” involves paying off columnists to write about certain things, it seems journalists at every other publication ever were just misinformed about what was “ethical.” Jayson Blair stole quotes, made up stories, reported on events he never went to, then put it all in the New York Times, and he still did not take any bribes. It might do Trevino some good to get a life coach to help him sort out his priorities — word on the street is that Blair is available for pretty cheap.

Chuck DeVore, the Vice President for Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (where Trevino now works), said he was unaware of the arrangement in an email.

“He knew of my expertise and suggested I write some pieces,” DeVore said. “As I’ve seen over the years, it’s not uncommon for freelancers to be paid for their work from various sources. I frankly didn’t think much of it, having been paid by papers in a few nations abroad and by PR firms, such as the one Mr. Trevino was running at the time.”

We are going to stop Mr. DeVore here, because he is full of najis. For those of you who have not done any freelancing before, it is QUITE uncommon for freelancers to be paid for their work “from various sources,” because it is quite uncommon for freelancers to even get paid from one source.

Also, it is not, “as I’ve seen over the years,” standard protocol for freelancers to Skype with an editor and say, “Oh, by the way, some guy is filtering me money from foreign governments to write this stuff, but that’s cool, right?” BECAUSE IT IS NOT COOL. We do not know anything about cool, and we know this is not cool. AND, this is somehow not the first time Trevino has been accused of taking money from the Malaysians, because apparently accusations like that are a dime a dozen among circles that do not give a najis about credibility. Again, from the Buzzfeed piece:

Trevino lost his column at the Guardian last year after allegations that his relationship with Malaysian business interests wasn’t being disclosed in columns dealing with Malaysia. Trevino told Politico in 2011 that “I was never on any ‘Malaysian entity’s payroll,’ and I resent your assumption that I was.”

HAAAAA turns out he was! The whole time! Surely it is only a coincidence that the Politico reporter he lied to was Ben Smith, currently editing… Buzzfeed.

Here is a weird thing though: after having his face lied off by Trevino, Smith tweeted today:

“To his credit.” “Clarifies.” Those are not exactly the words we would use to describe Trevino’s actions, nor is “misled,” which Trevino himself goes with. We feel like “misled” maybe means willfully allowing people to misinterpret your cagey words, not flat-out denying the scurrilous questions posed to you by these outrageous scoundrels. Maybe though that is just us.

As for why he waited until five years after the fact to register with FARA, Trevino said he didn’t know he was supposed to have registered until recently.

“The accurate answer is that I didn’t know there was a foreign agents database at all.” Trevino said. “When all the stuff with the Guardian went down in August, I had a friend ask me whether I regeistered with FARA and I said what’s FARA?”

What’s FARA? It’s the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and it is for people who are doing the political work of other countries, which he was, for several years. It exists, presumably, so the United States will know when there is a propaganda-disseminating Malaysian bribery agent running around with satchels of weird money. And Trevino didn’t even know that was a thing? What a najishead.

[Buzzfeed]

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