Washington Post Keeps Running Op-Eds by Lobbyists Pushing Their Clients' Weapons
By Adam Johnson / AlterNet
For the third time in two months, The Washington Post has published, without disclosure, an op-ed by a lobbyist for weapons makers pushing for weapons their client makes.
In early April, after President Trump capriciously decided to bomb a Syrian air force base using Raytheon missiles, Raytheon lobbyist Ed Rogers took to the opinion section of Washington Post–where he, unaccountably, has a recurring column–to lavish praise on the President for doing so.
Rogers’ lobbying firm BGR received $120,000 in 2016 for lobbying on “defense and communications procurement; Defense appropriations and authorizations,” for Raytheon, Media Matters reported at the time.
Rogers boosted Trump again on behalf of his client six weeks later–this time both Saudi Arabia and Raytheon–in his post “The upcoming international trip is an opportunity for Trump and his staff”. The column, while not directly addressing weapons system. painted a glowing picture of a courageous Mr. Trump heading to the middle east to make peace and forge relationships.
Ed Rogers’ firm BGR was paid $500,000 by Saudi Arabia in 2015 to lobby on behalf of the Middle East dictatorship. In addition, the weapons deal finalized by the Trump administration on the trip greatly benefited Rogers’ other client, Raytheon, which has paid BGR $270,000 in the past two and a half years.
Raytheon is also the primary sponsor of Washington Post’s corporate puff interview series “Post Live: Securing Tomorrow” hosted by NatSec-friendly David Ignatius.
A third, and more egregious instance, of the lobbyist-as-pundit practice was from Podesta Group pitchman Stephen Rademaker in a post last week on North Korea’s missile program, “The North Korean nuclear threat is very real. Time to start treating it that way.”
Not only did Rademaker generally push a war his client was helping arm-–as Mr. Rogers did–he expressly lobbied the US to procure two specific weapons systems made by his client, Lockheed Martin:
It’s time to take North Korea’s words and actions at face value: North Korea is a nuclear-armed state and is determined to remain one. The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defense system to South Korea is a welcome first step to contain the threat, allowing us to shoot down short- and intermediate-range missiles fired from North Korea.
As North Korean missile capabilities grow, THAAD needs to be augmented with more robust missile defense systems, including the ship-borne Aegis system, the Aegis Ashore system now being deployed in Romania, expanded interceptor capabilities in Alaska and the corresponding sensors necessary to maximize the effectiveness of all these systems.
Both the THAAD missile system and the Aegis Ashore system are made by Lockheed Martin, one of Podesta Group’s major clients. Lockheed Martin paid Podesta Group $130,000 in the first quarter of 2017 alone and $1.8 million since 2014. According to Podesta Group’s own internal marketing collateral, one of their aims is to “Win key government Projects” for Lockheed Martin.
“At a time when the federal government was seeking to reduce its spending dramatically, Lockheed Martin asked the Podesta Group to ensure one of its flagship programs continued to receive full funding,” their promotional material reads. Presumably writing op-eds pushing Lockheed products in the most influential newspapers in Washington fits neatly into this marketing effort.
The Washington Post mentions Rademaker is a principal at Podesta Group but does not mention Podesta Group is a lobbying firm nor do they mention they’re a lobbying firm on behalf of the makers of THAAD and Aegis Ashore weapons systems being expressly hawked in the post.
In April, liberal watchdog Media Matters documented twelve separate times Post Columnist Ed Rogers didn’t disclose his conflicts of interest, ranging from Dodd-Frank to the Keystone Pipeline to Climate Change legislation. Podesta Group’s Rademaker previously pushed then-President Obama to not reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal in 2014 without disclosing a $200,000-a-year client of his at the time, Huntington Ingalls Industries, built nuclear weapons systems.
The practice of allowing lobbyists to write “opinion” pieces that act as little more marketing pushes for their clients shiny new war products is an even more vulgar extension of the media’s habit of allowing defense industry-funded think tanks to push for increased military spending and saber-rattling, all without even the pretense of academic research or analysis.