In what can only be described as grudging respect for the Barisan Nasional’s media savvy, partisan hack Joshua Trevino was paid USD 389,724,70 to write positively about Barisan Nasional while denouncing Anwar Ibrahim in the US.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires federal filing of income from foreign sources, and the list of agents in the document is rather damning. Section 7 reveals the principal foreign agent paying Trevino:
Government of Malaysia, its ruling party, or interests closely aligned with either, acting through one or more of APCO worldwide and the David All Group (May 2008 through September 2008), and FBC Media (February 2009 through April 2011), with whom registrant had its relationship.
Item IV, 10(a) reveals the people this person hired for the BN government:
- Brad Jackson
- Ben Domenech
- Claire Berlinski
- Rachel Ehrenfeld
- Seth Mandel
- Chuck DeVore
- Rachel Motte
- Christopher Badeaux
- David Brown
- Kevin Holtsberry
BuzzFeed has a comprehensive breakdown of the parties involved and summarises the opinion pieces they were making. This of course must include the usual castigation of Anwar Ibrahim:
Anwar, the opposition leader, has faced prosecution for sodomy, a prosecution widely denounced in the West, which Trevino defended as more “nuanced” than American observers realized. The government for which Trevino worked also attacked Anwar for saying positive things about Israel; Trevino has argued that Anwar is not the pro-democracy figure he appears.
And after attacking Anwar for being pro-Israel, the BN-government-hired-Trevino subcontracts Seth Mandel to paint Anwar as an anti-Semite:
Mandel said, “I was blogging about issues relating to Israel and anti-Semitism in 2010, and Josh approached me about a Malaysian opposition figure who had made anti-Semitic comments and was affiliated with anti-Israel organizations. I had full editorial freedom — Josh never saw anything I wrote until after it was published — and I had no relationship with the Malaysian government. I was paid by Josh for what was probably a handful of blog posts in the fall of 2010, I believe, while working as a freelancer in Washington.”
The Malaysian government, unable to apply the same control towards the dissemination of propaganda in the age of media without border restrictions, has taken to paying overseas journalists with taxpayer money to castigate a leader of a political party to shape political opinion.
This is the central issue in dispute for us Malaysians. Taxpayer money is being used in a blatant manner to support a single political party while undermining the image of another.
Just like how BR1M money is constantly used to reinforce the notion that money being disbursed is somehow BN’s money that they are kindly giving out to the needy, when it is actually the people’s money being returned to them for political mileage.
Just like how Buletin Utama on TV3 uses the catchphrase “Janji Ditepati” at an average of 30 bullshits per minute during their propaganda segments.
Until the government is censured and prevented from using public funds to further their own political message in a manner that perverts the principle of an independent media, this country is far from the ideals of fairness and justice its people deserves.