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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
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”