Editors at the Washington Post finally realized that continuing to publish someone who was being actively paid by the Saudi Arabian government probably wasn’t a great look.
According to Politico, the Post delivered an ultimatum to Ed Rogers, a conservative political columnist whose day job is serving as the chairman of BGR Group, a lobbying firm that represents Saudi Arabia, telling him he had to choose one or the other.
Kristine Coratti Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Post, confirmed that the newspaper told Rogers he’d no longer be able to contribute if he continued to lobby for Saudi Arabia. She declined to comment further.
Two weeks ago, Jamal Khashoggi, a widely respected Saudi journalist and dissident who ran a regular column for the Washington Post walked into his country’s consulate in Turkey and never left. According to Turkish officials, he died there, at the hands of a 15-man death squad allegedly sent by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Editors at the Post, naturally, were distraught, reserving nearly an entire column in the October 4 edition of the paper as blank space to protest Khashoggi’s disappearance. Meanwhile, unfortunately, they continued to publish Rogers, who graced us with articles like “Democrats and the liberal media are afraid of Kanye West. What else explains their behavior?” and “Democrats look, shout and storm like a mob.”
Rogers’ firm announced that they were no longer representing Saudi Arabia on Monday, which means that he will seemingly keep his spot on the Post’s roster of columnists.
But really, it’s wild that he had a spot in the first place—Politico reports that BGR was getting $80,000 a month to spin news for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and in 2017, the Post allowed Rogers to publish a glowingly positive piece on Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia, with no disclaimer that Rogers was currently employed by the Kingdom. And that wasn’t the first time!
Per Media Matters for America, Rogers has been pulling shit like this consistently for years.
Media Matters reviewed Rogers’ opinion pieces from the start of 2016 through today and found that the Post is failing to properly disclose when Rogers and his clients’ lobbying interests intersect. These disclosure violations include:
- Praising President Trump for rescinding a fiduciary rule that protects investors without disclosing that BGR is lobbying to repeal the rule.
- Criticizing the Dodd-Frank financial rule without disclosing his firm is lobbying on the issue.
- Criticizing politicians for their attacks on the financial services industry without disclosing that he and his firm have been paid to lobby on behalf of financial services firms.
- Praising the Tomahawk missile strike against Syria without disclosing that he lobbies on behalf of the missile maker.
- Pushing for the Keystone XL pipeline without disclosing that BGR is lobbying for a firm that has been pushing for its implementation because it would financially benefit from its approval.
- Pushing for environmental deregulation and a lowering of the corporate tax rate without disclosing his firm is lobbying on those issues.
The Post told MMFA that they “weren’t initially clear enough with Ed on our expectations,” but defended most of his writing as a whole. After Khashoggi’s almost-certain death almost-certainly at the hands of a Saudi hit squad, it appears they revisited the arrangement.
Anyway, congratulations to Rogers for apparently keeping his job at the Washington Post, which I hope to god pays him much less than $80,000 a month.