Sunday, February 23, 2014

BuzzFeed Alleges Breitbart/Pajamas Media Payola on Ukraine Politics

Naturally, deranged lizard blogger Charles Johnson would pick this up, via Memeorandum.

But let's go right to Rosie Gray at BuzzFeed, "Exclusive: How Ukraine Wooed Conservative Websites":

Ukraine Payola photo barclaysss111_zps9a876a08.jpg

WASHINGTON — Several conservative bloggers repeated talking points given to them by a proxy group for the Ukrainian government — and at least one writer was paid by a representative of the Ukrainian group, according to documents and emails obtained by BuzzFeed.

The Ukrainian campaign began in the run-up to high-stakes Ukrainian parliamentary elections last year, and sought to convince skeptical American conservatives that the pro-Russian Party of Regions, led by President Viktor Yanukovych, deserved American support. During that period, articles echoing Ukrainian government talking points appeared on leading conservative online outlets, including RedState, Breitbart, and Pajamas Media.

The emails and documents, which include prepackaged quotes from election officials and talking points that some writers copied nearly word-for-word, offer a glimpse into how foreign governments dodge tight Justice Department regulations on foreign propaganda to covertly lobby in the United States: The payments were routed through a front group in Belgium to an American consultant, who has urged writers not to cooperate with a reporter investigating the campaign.

The model resembles a recent stealth campaign in which bloggers were paid by the Malaysian government to write favorable stories, though the Ukraine campaign appears to have involved smaller sums of money.

One of the writers who participated in the campaign, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and because of lingering qualms about the arrangement, they said, described being offered $500 for a blog post praising Ukraine’s ruling Party of Regions. The payment was arranged by George Scoville, a libertarian media strategist, and Scoville’s name was on the check, the source said.

An email from October 26, 2012 shows Scoville inviting writers to join a conference with Mikhail Okhendovskyy of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission. The call was organized by the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-based group headed by Leonid Khazara, a former senior member of parliament from the pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. According to its website, it is a “a unique ‘Modern Ukraine’ organisation based in Brussels and operating internationally as an advocate for enhancing EU-Ukraine relations.”

In practical terms, the ECFMU exists to promote Yanukovych and the party — but its nominal independence means that its representatives in Washington do not need to register as foreign agents and make the extensive disclosures required under that program. Instead, the only evidence of its activity comes in the far more relaxed domestic lobbying disclosure law, which shows that the Brussels-based group employs two well-connected Washington lobbying firms, The Podesta Group and Mercury/Clark and Weinstock.

One email from October 29, the day after the election, shows Scoville sending out documents full of exit poll results and prepackaged statements from election observers.

“I just wanted to share the attached documents with you in case you were interested,” Scoville writes. “You’re under no obligation to write anything, but I wanted you to have this info in case you were feeling nostalgic and/or entrepreneurial :)”.

“But in all seriousness, if you could spend a few minutes today tweeting about the results using #ukrainevotes and promoting some of the pieces you wrote, that would be very helpful to us,” Scoville writes.
So far it's just the crazed lizard dolt at Memeorandum, although Boing Boing had the story a couple of days ago, so it's not like the idiot Johnson "broke" the story or anything, the f-king moron.

And hey, I'll believe this story when BuzzFeed posts all the email evidence and the name of the so-called anonymous "writer" making the allegations.