Freedom agenda

Heh indeedy.

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.

44 replies
  1. 1

    Strapping young Wingnut Welfare Queens like Josh Trevino don’t care where the money comes from, as long as they get their T-bones and Cadillacs.

  2. 2
    aimai says:

    Ho-lee-shit. That is all. 300,000 some dollars? Where can I find me a generous dictator like that?

  3. 3
    Scott S. says:

    Doesn’t the mighty lightsabre-slinging Josh keep begging his readers for money so he can buy more guuuuns?

    Is he afraid he’ll have to fight off Malaysian dissidents?

  4. 4
    dmbeaster says:

    Just another reason to despise that slug Trevino. And he likes to characterize himself as so principled.

    Alternatively, its just the free market of ideas at work, right?

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    Nice work if you can get it.

  6. 6
    Yutsano says:

    Paging Amir Khalid. Amir Khalid please come to the top thread for an important message.

  7. 7

    I knew I should have joined the Dark Side.

  8. 8
    jlow says:

    I’m moving to Kuala Lumpur this summer. My plan was to be a kept man while my wife teaches at an international school, but maybe I’ll become a conservative pundit. I’m guessing I can do that and hold a gin & tonic at the same time.

  9. 9
    Scott S. says:

    If Al Qaeda dug up $30, they too could get Trevino and Domenech to write some mash letters to them…

  10. 10
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    They forgot to include the Malaysian diacritic mark over the N in Josh’s last name.

  11. 11
    geg6 says:


    Heh. I had that same thought.

  12. 12
    Steeplejack says:

    Wikipedia says Treviño was a cofounder of RedState.

  13. 13
    aimai says:


    Apparently they’ll pay you to outsource your lies–if Trevino found it profitable to pay small sums to his little worker bees in the US you can probably pay pennies on the Ringgit to some young Malaysian English students. Just think up some cool sounding internet names for them like, I don’t know, Agrippa or The Cunctator orBiggus Dickus.

  14. 14
    Scout211 says:

    That article is really amazing.

    Trevino has been doing this for 5 years, lied about it when confronted in 2011 and just recently filed retroactively in the Foreign agents database (FARA). He claims he “didn’t know” it was required.


    And, really? Lie about it?

    Wow. Just wow.

  15. 15
    Gozer says:

    @jlow: I’d go the kept man route.

  16. 16
    jlow says:

    @aimai: I obviously know how it works if it never occurred to me to not actually do the work myself. #conservativepunditfail

  17. 17
    beltane says:

    I wish there was some type of illegality involved that would require Mr. Trevino to enjoy his freedom agenda in a Malaysian prison.

  18. 18
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I always hated that dickface “Tacitus,” even — especially — when he was supposed to be the thinking liberal’s conservative sex symbol.

  19. 19
    Kay says:

    It was actually a fairly standard PR operation,” Trevino told BuzzFeed Friday. “To be blunt with you, and I think the filing is clear about this, it was a lot looser than a typical PR operation. I wanted to respect these guys’ independence and not have them be placement machines.”

    Have to love how there’s no concern, at all, for the poor person who was reading and believing this stuff. Just a standard PR operation. That’d be a good name for their website.

  20. 20
    Amir Khalid says:

    I r here.

    I’ve mentioned Josh Trevino and his Malaysian connections in these comment threads before. Trevino’s been in the pay of the Barisan Nasional, the coalition that’s been ruling Malaya and then Malaysia since independence in 1957. Anwar Ibrahim’s a target because he’s the leader of the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat. (Anwar was the third of Dr Mahathir’s four deputy Prime Ministers — over Dr M’s own 22 years in office — until Anwar was fired in 1998 and charged with the ghey seksytimes.)

    I’m not sure if Trevino’s operation is providing Barisan value for money. I mean who in Malaysia would take an American blogging operation seriously on Malaysian politics? We do have our own blogosphere, after all. People here don’t even know who Trevino is. I think it most likely that he’s been grifting Barisan.

    As things stand now, we’re due a general election by the fifth anniversary of the last one, i.e. by the end of this June. Barisan are nervous about this upcoming GE because in 2008 they lost a surprising amount of ground to the very new Pakatan. You can see some of the nerves reflected in their heavy-handed responses to the Bersih rallies of the past couple of years, which I’ve also mentioned here.

    Since then Pakatan have done a pretty decent job of governing the states they won in 2008, and now have a track record to run on. They have a chance of winning more seats in the federal Parliament.

  21. 21
    Another Halocene Human says:

    They’re exactly the people we thought they were.

    I never believe mainstream US media takes on foreign governments unless there is a huge story going on and they’ve had reporters imbedded for days and the various factions have English speakers doing TV rounds.

    If the eye of Sauron is not fixed on the place, 99 and 44/100% certainty the article is bullshit. Misinformed or paid propaganda.

  22. 22
    I am not a kook says:

    Any chance that self important little twit (“Tacitus” FFS) is asked about this during his next appearance on my public radio? I was shocked to hear him on “Left, Right and Center”, which tries oh so hard to be the distillation of Very Serious Centrism and Comity. Did they ever read anything that lunatic has written? They really had to go rummaging through the Third Rate Internet Pundit junk drawer?

    Yes, I listen to Left, Right and Center through gritted teeth if it comes on while I’m driving. If I’m in a tricky spot and can’t turn the radio off immediately.

  23. 23
    taylormattd says:


    Holy fucking shit.

    Goddamnit, why the hell am I not vomiting forth right wing crap online?

  24. 24
    scav says:

    The bootstrap pull yourself up crowd has this naive expectatation that annonymous entities giving one large chunks of change anonymously for doing no particular thing is par for the course and no big unexpected thing and then wonder wide-eyed about why all this bother about not filing and lying abouot it? Aaah, bless. Those big we eat what we kill steely eyed homo economicus ubermench.

  25. 25
    kc says:


  26. 26
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Why am I not shocked by this post? Rightwing news as propaganda sounds about right to me. Just look at Fox News, Breitbart, etc.

    Wonder how the cat got out of the bag.

  27. 27
    kc says:


    You have a soul?

  28. 28
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Amir Khalid: 300,000 is not that much money for a political party. But yeah. I’m not certain who they were worried about influencing. Or maybe they were trying to prevent Ibrahim from growing into a global concern.

  29. 29
    MattF says:

    @Amir Khalid: It’s the grift. The good ol’ US has the best con artists of all– and if there’s loose green (or whatever the color of money is over there) you’ll find a sincere, hard-working American nearby reaching out for truth, justice, and what’s in your pocket.

  30. 30
    taylormattd says:

    @kc: No, that’s not it.

    I think I’m not smart enough to grift properly.

  31. 31
    shortstop says:

    @Amir Khalid: I took it to mean these guys were supposed to be positively influencing American — not Malaysian — opinion on Barisan. Not that this would make it less of a grift.

  32. 32
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’m not too sure what Barisan would get out of that. Not a lot of Americans have much awareness of Malaysian politics, so there’s not a lot of strongly held negative opinion that needs to be changed.

  33. 33
    I am not a kook says:

    @Amir Khalid: I don’t think the target is Malaysia or its voters directly. This is concern trolling for hire. By raising nebulous issues about the opposition in the US press, they muddle the waters and make it harder for them to gain access to the American establishment.

    Plus they can point to “reports” in the foreign press about the opposition, just like The VRWC launders attacks through the British press.

    Quite interesting that the Malaysian government attacked Anwar Ibrahim for saying something positive about Israel, and *at the same time* Seth Mandel was paid to accuse him of anti-semitism in the US… Amir, is this correct?

    Yeah and that fucker Trevino is probably right that it’s just standard PR, happens all the time. He’s just stupid enough to say that out loud.

  34. 34
    PeakVT says:

    @Amir Khalid: As others pointed out, it was done for American consumption. Other countries hire lobbyists and propagandists, too. The only thing that makes this interesting is that Tacky-tush and Box Turtle have a reputation in the liberal blogosphere.

  35. 35
    Steve says:

    For $389,000 I’d be all in favor of whatshisname in Malaysia too. I’m not proud. I could also be persuaded to have an opinion on the upcoming elections in Burkina Faso.

  36. 36
    Schlemizel says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    What do you mean not many Americans are very aware of Malaysian politics?

    Why I just asked an average American here at the Applebees salad bar & their answer was surprisingly insightful”
    “Eh, I don’t know. Ever since their prediction that the world would end on December 21st fell flat I don’t have confidence in any of them South American people!”

  37. 37
    aimai says:


    And just wait until you interview my Taxi driver!

  38. 38
    Amir Khalid says:

    As I understand it, Anwar’s position on Israel is more or less like mine — not very sympathetic, but not exactly drive-them-into-the-sea either. Hiring Trevino to denounce Anwar to Malaysians as a Zionist sympathiser and to Americans as an anti-Semite is a novel tactic, but there’s an obvious pitfall: a Google search could very easily expose the tactic.

    It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that Barisan would pay money to Trevino to sway American opinions in its favour, unless they fell for his grift. Why Trevino? Why not CNN or Fox News? He’s not all that influential in America. American opinions have no real influence on Malaysian politics. Malaysia isn’t in America’s bad books. It’s not some pivotal influence on Iran or anyone else in the Middle East; if we were, wouldn’t Obama or Hillary have been by at least once or twice in the past few years?

  39. 39
    spartikus says:

    Why Trevino? Why not CNN or Fox News?

    How do you know their not also on the payroll? Trevino’s part could just be one small component of a larger effort.

    Or not.

    Maybe swaying U.S. public opinion isn’t a high priority for Malaysia and they made a token effort.

  40. 40
    Schlemizel says:


    Just got back from the airport & the American Taxi driver confirmed that Malaysia is flat and confirmed everything I think is correct!

    Where my $300k?

  41. 41
    Schlemizel says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    In the US that would qualify for antisemitic, sadly. As for consistency the folks they were trying to reach here are the ones who only believe what they want to believe in the first place. Therefore the US version is the only one that matters.

    I will never be POTUS, if for no other reason than I WOULD spend 4 years touring the globe and apologizing to everyone that would listen.

  42. 42
    kindness says:

    Lawyers Guns & Money has a post up that the comments just rock on regarding Josh & Ben’s travels through the years. Ahh it brings back memories.

  43. 43
    ArchPundit says:

    Hey John, how you feeling about that ideology switch now?

  44. 44
    russell says:

    OK, so now Trevino is a fascist AND a whore.

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