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Make sure to read through all of the documents posted by the Sunday Times relating to the journalism sting it pulled on lobbyist Stephen Payne, which I linked to yesterday. The Times set up a meeting between Payne and “Eric Dos,” a man allegedly seeking to arrange an official Washington visit for Askar Akayev, the former president of Kyrgyzstan. In order to get meetings with high-ranking Bush administration officials, Payne suggested “making a contribution to the Bush library. It would be like, maybe a couple of hundred thousand dollars, or something like that.”
The Times posted a glossy confidential brochure for Payne’s firm, Worldwide Strategic Partners, which detailed its alleged prior activities on behalf of the government of Azerbaijan. In it, Worldwide Strategic claims to have worked with “members of the Helsinki Commission to reduce the negative language in the U.S. press release” following elections in Azerbaijan that were widely condemned as fraudulent; and implemented “an aggressive media campaign to discredit the Azeri opposition.”
The brochure also says it worked closely with a number of people to “boost positive U.S . public perception about Azerbaijan,” including: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison; A. Elizabeth Jones, a former State Department official and now a lobbyist at APCO Associates (I wrote about her for my undercover story on lobbyists for Harper’s last year); and Gary Bauer, the leader from the Christian right (whose name was misspelled in the brochure). The Times also posted great video footage of the meeting with Payne.
The question remains of when The Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz will denounce the Sunday Times. For Kurtz, undercover reporting is always wrong since “no matter how good the story, lying to get it raises as many questions about journalists as their subjects.”–even if the subject is brazenly seeking to sell access to the U.S. government.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”