Sorry for two posts on the subject, but the Malaysian propaganda story is almost too good to be true. Ben Domenech — who got shitcanned from a WaPo blog gig for plagiarism — was in on it too:
Domenech, a former Washington Post blogger who runs a daily morning newsletter called The Transom, said he “was retained by Josh’s Trevino Strategies and Media PR firm in 2010 with the general guidance to write about Malaysia, particularly the political scene there.”
“I did not ever have anyone looking over my shoulder for what I wrote, and the guidance really was just to write about the political fray there and give my own opinion,” Domenech said. “Of course, Josh picked me knowing what my opinion was – I stand by what I wrote at the time and I continue to be critical of Anwar Ibrahim, who I think is a particularly dangerous fellow.”
What an amazing cast of characters populates American right wing media!
Just Some Fuckhead
There’s a Malaysian box turtle joke here somewhere, but damned if I can find it.
The wingnut welfare gravy train rolls on. You know, the rest of us have to make do with crappy wages and declining readership, but the wingnut media just buys whatever the fuck they want with a seemingly endless supply of cash from selling their souls. Amazing.
While an interesting subject, you apologize for 2 consecutive posts on the same subject when the president just gave a killer presser. Do you plan to cover it?
P.S. Sorry if I’m just being impatient.
Why didn’t you instead add the contents of this post as an update to the earlier one??
As someone struggling to get by in an environment of marginal academic jobs, please let all despots know that I am more than willing to write propaganda for significantly less than $300K.
You could have just amended the previous post, you know?
Interesting. I wonder how all these conservative writers suddenly came to the conclusion that Ibrahim is dangerous. I find it hard to believe that they’ve all gone extended tours of Malaysia to get a sense of what conditions are there, find a local cab driver or two. Maybe ask Amir Kalid to introduce them to some folks who can give them good context on the political parties there. Or maybe they just spent the afternoon with some folks who sent them a few articles and brochures.
BUT….I had a good title for this one.
Is anything the right-wing media generates not bought and paid for? Every time I see one of Michelle Malkin’s tweet-tsunamis (or Glenn Instacracker’s retweet-tsunamis), I assume some Koch subsidiary is paying for this by the click.
Trevino and Domenech were both instumental in setting up RedState I believe. I used to be on Trevino’s e-mail list back when he and Armondo set up a blog that was supposed to allow conservatives and liberals to talk to each other(SwordsCrossed). Armando bailed after it became apparent it was just going to be another food fight. Armondo was right. Civility did not last long.
I am not surprised to hear they (Trevino and Domenech) still try and push their meme’s while not telling everyone about the reach around they give each other.
Another Halocene Human
Are these names and places ringing a bell because I read them on theeXiled’s shame list, or another similar list online, or am I tripping?
Dammit, I’d bookmark more stuff but then I’d forget what the bookmarks are for.
eta: that would be eXiled online’s SHAME project, but I don’t know if that’s where I heard those names
@Just Some Fuckhead: I hear its turtles all the way down.
Not civil enough for Armando? I’m glad I skipped that one. (Armando writes good stuff but boy howdy can he get in a flamewar.)
@Doug Galt: Seconded. An excellent justification.
Back in the day, South Africa used to pay shills here in the U.S. to spread the notion that Nelson Mandela was a commie terrorist, as he sat rotting in jail with no media access to defend himself. I don’t know if he personally got paid (I’ll bet he did at least indirectly), but Howard Phillips was a leader in that crowd.
I don’t remember ever hearing any apologies for that, after Mandela showed an almost superhuman capacity to promote forgiveness and reconciliation. As always, being a wingnut means never having to say you’re sorry.
Golly, that wouldn’t be the same Ben Domenech that that scamp Ezra Klein felt bound to put on my Liberal MSNBC a few nights ago for no explicable reason would it?
Must be nice havin’ friends.
@Doug Galt: OK, it is a good title. My first Van Morrison album, bought it for 10 cents at a rummage sale.
Who needs that when $$$$$ guarantees your attention and point of view?
For Domenech and crew, it’s all about the Rahmans. But I’m still looking forward to Red State and Domenech writing glowing reviews of Malaysia convicting the Bush Administration of war crimes in absentia. Surely for $300K they could force themselves to write about Bush and Cheney being found guilty of torture, even if they’d prefer to call call it illegally enhanced interrogation.
They truly are the Party of Ideas (about scamming your audience)
@driftglass: I was stunned by that. And he sucked and said nothing. Plus, as an alum, he’s an embarrassment to the college where I teach.
And the restaurant tables are completely covered.
record companyMalaysian government has paid out for the wine.
You got everything in the world you ever wanted
Right about now your face should wear a smile.
I still cannot get over the amount of money that douchebag Tacitus received: $389K.
Where the fuck is my foreign agent money?
@Suffern ACE: i’m sure it was a topic of conversation at the local Applebee’s salad bar
@kindness: I hate to say this, because I really love pico, who I think may have front paged there, but Swords crossed was terrible.
Of course it was terrible because of Tacitus. I never understood the point of having a blog with “both” points of view. If I wanted to read that shit, I’d click on the wingnut blogs.
They’re in the pay of Barisan Nasional, that’s how. Anwar Ibrahim was for five years deputy prime minister for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. Now he’s the leader of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, the only credible threat to Barisan’s hold on power at federal level. Pakatan caught Barisan by surprise in the 2008 elections, and since then has proven itself as credible in governance. Quite a lot of Malaysians see Anwar as a man who could wind up leading the first non-Barisan federal government. That’s what makes Anwar dangerous — to Barisan, not to anyone else.
For reasons I mentioned in the previous thread, I have trouble believing Trevino’s blog for hire is going to sway many Malaysians. I suspect he’s just grifting the Barisan.
Let him who hasn’t occasionally accepted tens of thousands of dollars from the Malaysian government and then coincidentally developed strong opinions about Malaysian politics that conform precisely to the positions of the Malaysian government and then published those opinions without acknowledging the receipt of the Malaysian money cast the first stone.
Which just happened to align with the interests of the people paying Josh Trevino . . .
Oh no, he lied to Ben Smith:
No wonder they believe everyone else is on the legendary payroll of Soros. Money sacks apparently drop down right, center and more right all the time there, so much so that they don’t even think it an unusual to be mentioned thing. Couch change. Self-lifting bootstraps.
@taylormattd: I think he’s going to regret staking out that position.
First let’s blame all the lawyers:
@Amir Khalid: I think they’re trying to sway Yanks, not Malaysians.
@Amir Khalid: I think the point is to try and influence American opinion of Malaysian politics to keep the Barisan in power. It’s also useful to have a shill should any really nasty bad press leak out about a ruling government that they would rather keep quiet. I think it’s a totally rational action, as noted above the old South African apartheid governments did something similar. I have no doubts Malaysians are too aware to fall for anything Mr Treviño suggests in any of his columns, but Americans tend to be rather stupid about world affairs and will just blindly follow whatever news comes around.
The American right wing are incompetent in everything they do with the exception of grifting. That they are very good at.
@shortstop: Or wot u said.
(And FYWP for no haz edit.)
Oooh, he’ll pay for that!
OT – Returned from my campus visit/interview yesterday. Now I get to wait to see if they are going to offer the position to me. Waiting patiently is not going to be easy. I felt that the visit went well: teaching demonstration and research presentation went well (no sleeping students, no truly obnoxious ‘gotcha’ questions from faculty after the research presentation, just thoughtful questions on worthwhile topics), seemingly had good rapport with faculty, administration, and students, I definitely showed tenurability – I just hope it was enough, as I liked the university and would love to work there.
Israel also comes to mind.
@kc: I’m just telling him as a friend.
Haha, yes. You liberals are supposed to be tolerant. How is making fun of Josh Trevino’s lack of ethics as evidenced by taking a large sum of money to propagandize for a foreign government and then lying about it tolerant?
@shortstop: Yeah. But influencing people to do what? Not learn about Ibrahim too deeply? I mean, they did that by charging him with sodomy. That may have been unintentional, and meant to discredit him with Malaysians, but it had the effect of making him “that Malaysian guy who was unfairly charged with sodomy for political purposes.” Focusing on that means pretty much everyone is in agreement that Malaysian politics is dirty and mean, but doesn’t do much to make the politics of Ibrahim very much well known. What they hired these bloggers to do was discuss those policies in a negative way, making him a dangerous guy even if one might think that false arrests against polticial opponents aren’t fair.
Just Some Fuckhead
How do we know the government of Indonesia didn’t pay liberal bloggers to plant this story to discredit Malaysia and the Malayan-US Freedom Force?
@kc: It’s their culture.
How’s that fly as a justification?
@driftglass: Yeah, I was rather gobsmacked when I recognized the Virgin Ben as Klein’s conservative propagandist du jour.
Josh Trevino, a supporter of genocidal practices, opposed to pro-democracy figures. There’s a shocker.
@Amir Khalid: I don’t think Trevino or Domeneche were hired to sway Malaysian opinion, I think they were hired to sway US public opinion if the need arises to raise an international stink about Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat party.
You know, in case Barisan Nasional needs to arrest the guy in case it looks like he might win the election. Or if he needs to be killed for the same reason. Then the US media can google, find these articles and decide that he was just a trouble-maker and rabble-rouser and his death or arrest was warranted, or whatever. And then they don’t have to worry about if Democracy is alive and well in Malaysia. Think of it more like Barisan is playing a long game.
I vaguely remember some right-wing propaganda coming out about Saddam Hussein during the Clinton administration. (Not when Saddam or Iraq were legitimately in the news) But at weird times, when no one was talking about Iraq. I always wondered what was up with that when I noticed it. It wasn’t until Bush 2 that I realized they had been greasing the skids for another attack for the previous 8 years. Ya know?
Hahaha ok now I sound paranoid and like I’m spouting gibberish. Yay me.
At least I have that going for me.
@taylormattd: Pico was one of the finer individuals at SC. I hear he still posts at the GOS, but I don’t wander into the diaries much.
Some of the folk there, on both sides of the aisle were good and decent people. But it ended up a fever swamp of right wing paranoia and fear. This was during dubya’s term so….
@Suffern ACE: I think Yuts nails it by pointing out that news about less-prominent countries like Malaysia is both less available and less scrutinized here in the U.S. They’re setting a narrative for anyone who looks. If you read what they wrote (I just scanned a couple of items), they’re portraying the Barisan as an eminently reasonable moderate Muslim government in contrast to all the supposedly crazy-ass Islamic-influenced nations to which libruls keep giving free passes. Meanwhile, they’re laying the groundwork to discredit Ibrahim internationally.
I don’t think they were looking for saturation coverage — and they wouldn’t get it for $400K in a country in which few are interested in Malaysian affairs — they were just trying to lay the foundation for the story as best they could.
Clearly, this is all Obummer’s fault. President Bernie Sanders would never let this happen. There must be some online petition I can sign in order to “fight back” against the Catfood King. Oh, and…GEITHNER!
All the best, and this really is the hard part now. There’s nothing to do but wait, and obsessively checking your phone doesn’t help, but I never quite figured out the solution. Get started on a new project? Meditation? Something, so you’re not just putting your life on hold for however long this is going to take, and realizing that the people making the decisions have nowhere near your sense of urgency about it.
@shortstop: Or what shortstop said so succinctly is what I was trying to say @47.
Per the reports I’ve seen on Trevino and his operation, it’s all aimed at Anwar, which tells me this is first and foremost national and tactical in focus, rather than aimed at influencing Americans. It’s especially important to target Anwar now because he’s the leader of the opposition coalition, and the general election is due by the end of June.
Another thing that makes me skeptical that this is a propaganda operation aimed at Americans is that Barisan has a long history of thumbing its nose at the Western Zionist-enabling imperialist superpower. It plays well in a Muslim-majority nation. (Though our current PM, Najib Abdul Razak, is quite happy to brag about his one-on-one meetings with Barack Obama.)
By the way, Anwar Ibrahim is “Anwar”, not “Ibrahim”, in subsequent mentions. Ibrahim is his patronymic, not his surname.
What upsets me the most is hearing Trevino wrote at HuffPost.
Sheesh. Do they have any standards?
@ericblair: Thanks. Yep, waiting is going to be brutal. I do have a conference paper that needs to be written, but focusing on it is going to be a bit of a bugger. Can’t seem to quit waffling between, ‘yep, got this one, they are definitely going to give me an offer’, and ‘blech, they are going to go with the other candidate, and I will have to wade through the murk of the job search all over again next year.’
@Amir Khalid: It’s really not all aimed at taking down Anwar; some (most?) of it is blatantly shilling for American support for Najib’s moderate brand of Islam. Check out this and this and this.
@Amir Khalid: Rats, too many links. I’ll try again with fewer. It’s really not all aimed at taking down Anwar; some (most?) of it is blatantly shilling for American support for Najib’s moderate brand of Islam. Check out this and this.
@Amir Khalid: Also see this.
@Amir Khalid: Okay, I don’t get this either. Why would Malaysians care what American bloggers have to say about Anwar? And, who besides Malaysians influences Malaysian politics? And it’s Barisan paying, right? So, is it logical that they would try to influence American politics against Anwar?
Though, reading one of the pieces, what if Barisan is playing the very common game of riling up local politics with anti-Western sentiment while actually working to further the U.S.-Malaysian relationship for more economic gains? So, perhaps these pieces are intended to influence a Washington crowd that Barisan is really to be trusted.
Bingo. Except it’s working to further the U.S.-Barisan relationship while revving up American right-wing sentiment against Anwar.
You don’t have to worry or get upset until something happens.
You’ve done your best and now either you belong there or you don’t.
What happens, happens.
Now, go chew off your fingernails.
@shortstop: Yeah. I watched myself type as I thought. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve seen such behavior. Honestly, Anwar himself is good at playing the Beltway one moment and playing local Malaysian politics, e.g., denouncing Israel, the next. Plus ça change …
@Michele C: I surely wasn’t implying that this kind of behavior is unique to Najib or Barisan — just that it’s really not that mysterious that they should be trying to work opinion in the U.S.
@shortstop: I only reply, “I know,” so that you know I never meant to imply that you meant to imply uniqueness.
I do think I was thinking, “Who cares in America?” but I realize that it’s the Beltway that they’re working on, not my parents. :)
@Just Some Fuckhead:
Well the Indonesians did a good job of cevering up Obamas muslim Indonesian citizenship so I wouldn’t put it past them.
Anwar is himself very much a Barisan product. It was a great coup for them in the early 1980s when they recruited him as he was moving from Islamic youth leadership to party politics. It was thought he’d go to the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). He proved a savvy politician, rising in the UMNO party and Barisan and building an international profile, not least in Washington DC.
I don’t know if Barisan can manage to present itself to the world as the only acceptable rulers of Malaysia. That perception is already eroding among us Malaysians, who have already seen Anwar’s Pakatan Rakyat and some of us rather like it.
As for the Israel thing, we stay friendly with other Muslim nations and share the not terribly Israel-friendly consensus of the Muslim world. But we’ve never been a player in the Middle East, we never will be, and the US would be silly to treat us like we were.
By:Ben Domenech | 10/17/10
dance around in your bones
St. Dominic’s Preview by Van Morrison (which I’m sure y’all already knew).
I’mma bout to strangle middle grandkid. He keeps hitting his little brother plus he says the f-word to me. Like, a LOT. The rest of the time I’m his bestest friend.
@dance around in your bones:
No kidding, the first time I used “motherfucker” in the car (I must have been about 12), my mother said “That’s a big word. You could also call somebody a ‘republican’. “
@Amir Khalid: I meant that “the Israel thing” was something that Anwar would say to reassure Malaysians that he’s not in the pocket of the pro-Israel Americans, even as he courts American power.
I don’t think that anyone believes that Malaysia is a player in the Middle East. However, as the quote from 10/17/10 shows, the “moderate” and “Muslim world” thing does get press in America.
Am I the only one that finds it odd that the media outlet that is at the forefront of native advertising, BuzzFeed, pens a takedown of a much older form of the practice?
Tumbrel for Hire
Yes, but where’s the REAL birth certificate?
dance around in your bones
@Wapiti: I wish this kid knew the word Republican. He’s 4 yrs old..
I’d rather be called a Republican than “fucking Nana”.
Where do they get this shit?