Conservative online outlets haven’t had much luck lately. Sure, the right has struggled for years when it comes to blogging, social media, and building credible media organizations, but lately, conditions seem to have gone from bad to worse.
Remember “unskewed polls”? “Friends of Hamas”? Even Erick Erickson complained the other day, “I think conservative media is failing to advance ideas and stories.”
Rosie Gray has a BuzzFeed story today that may set the right back a little further.
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 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.”
What Trevino said at the time was apparently untrue, and he concedes he “ought to have come clean” two years ago.
The piece also references payments to Trevino’s subcontractors, including well known conservative writers like Ben Domenech, who wrote about Malaysia and were paid as “part of the arrangement.”