Washington Free Beacon (WFB) is in the news today after a Congressional leak revealed the online far-right media outlet had been the client who first hired Fusion GPS to develop opposition research on then-presidential candidate, Donald Trump. There are many oddities about this entire episode. First is that the Free Beacon, funded by pro-Israel hedge fund billionaire, Paul Singer, lied in its own reporting about who first hired Fusion. According to the Washington Post, the neocon publication reported as late as October 24th (last Tuesday) that the original client was an “unknown GOP client” (see screenshot). Meanwhile, four days later it testified to a House committee that it was the client. Which raises the age-old Beltway Congressional question: what did the editors know, when did they know it, and who did they tell? Further, why didn’t an editor correct this lie before it saw the light of day?
Not to mention, that the article it published attempted to draw attention to the Clinton campaign’s role in continuing to fund Fusion’s work after Singer and WFB dropped out (when Trump won the Republican nomination). In doing so, it deliberately sought to divert attention from the original GOP client, itself. This is outright journalistic malpractice.
The Free Beacon has very little credibility in Washington aside from within far-right circles, but can it retain any after such a journalistic debacle? The answer undoubtedly will be a resounding yes because Paul Singer has deep pockets and clearly had no scruples about hiring Fusion and concealing his involvement. So why would he blush and abandon his pet journalism project because of a “minor peccadillo?”
I’ve spent 20 years as a journalist & never,ever heard of a media outlet hiring an outside firm to do oppo research https://t.co/BzcN1Vr6LE
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) October 27, 2017
Free Beacon editor, Matthew Continetti and chairman, Michael Goldfarb released a statement that this wasn’t the first time it had hired a consultant to do oppo-research on political candidates and other targets/victims of the publication’s ire. As genuine journalist, Chris Hayes tweeted earlier today, he’d never heard of any media outlet ever doing so. After all, isn’t that why you have investigative reporters? They’re supposed to investigate whatever subject the editors deem newsworthy. Why would you need to hire cloak and dagger investigators if you had decent reporters of your own?
The clear import of all this is that the DC scandal sheet isn’t a news outlet. It’s an ideological hit-man targeting the pet peeves of Paul Singer and his editors.
Paul Singer, Major Pro-Israel Funder
Besides being one of the single largest donors to the Republican Party, Singer is also a far-right supporter of Likud politics. He is on the board of Commentary Magazine, the quintessential neocon publication. Irving Kristol, Bill Kristol’s father and the figure who first coined the term, was a regular contributor. John Podhoretz’s father, Norman, was Commentary’s editor for decades.
The hedge fund billionaire also supports the Friends of the IDF, which raises funds on behalf of an Israeli army accused of perpetrating war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza. Singer is a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He has also funded MEMRI, the Islamophobic translation service dedicated to finding and mistranslating Arabic media in order the prove it is anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. He is one of the two largest donors to Josh Block’s The Israel Project. All of these are hard-right Israel Lobby projects promoting advocacy of intolerant, racist policies of the Israeli government.
The Forward profiled him:
Singer…has been a longtime supporter of hawkish pro-Israel causes and is one of the major funders of the conservative think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. During the debate over the Iranian nuclear deal, Singer used his fortune to support opponents of the agreement, including by founding an anti-deal Christian group.
Singer also sought to promote Christian support for Israel by signing on to partner with a fundamentalist Christian billionaire to launch a Birthright-like initiative aimed at evangelical students who want to visit Israel.
Billionaire Boys Club and Their Pro-Israel Media Toys
No one in the media has yet noted a theme among pro-Israel billionaires like Singer: they aren’t satisfied merely giving away their money to support Israel. They want to spread their ideological beliefs widely, publicly and aggressively. That’s why Singer created WFB, Sheldon Adelson, who pioneered this strategy, owns Israel HaYom and several other Israeli media outlets, while Seth Klarman founded and continues to fund the Times of Israel. It has published outright fraudulent blog posts and been forced to retract embarrassingly racist screeds published by Israeli writers.
These papers don’t need a conventional media business model. They will survive as long as their primary funder retains a motivation to fund them. That’s while conventional journalism is at such a supreme disadvantage.
The media property that comes closest to being a real newspaper is Israel HaYom. That’s because Adelson hired genuine Israeli newspaper editors to run it. It’s still what’s known in Yiddish as a shmatteh (“rag”). Little more than a tabloid pimping for Bibi Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist priorities.
There used to be an independent Jewish media here in the U.S. One that reported about Israel without fear or favor. But the last real representative of this, the Jewish Forward, is in dire financial straits and has abandoned its efforts to produce investigative, deeply-reported journalism. What’s left is scandal sheets like the ones I mentioned above, which do little more than publish press releases offered to them by their political allies in government.
These outlets, with their deep-pocketed Likudist funders, will be the last man standing in far-right Jewish journalism. Their fat-cat founders hope that this will succeed, where many other efforts have failed, to turn American Jews into Republicans and Likudists. It would be a shame and a tragedy of major dimensions if they succeeded.
Free Beacon’s Anti-Semitism-Obsessive Adam Kredo
The WFB’s special pro-Israel attack dog is Adam Kredo. He harbors an obsession with anti-Semitism. One might even call it an obsessive compulsive disorder. He of course conflates hatred of Jews with anti-Zionism or even any criticism of Israel. If you review this Google search, you’ll find scores of article with headlines accusing politicians and publications of anti-Semitism or being anti-Israel; when at most they’ve voiced criticism of Israel.
He is a sort of mini-me to his boss, chairman Michael Goldfarb who, whenever a WFB article is proven to mendacious or when unethical methods were used in a report, claims they were meant as a joke:
In a February 2013 post, the blog ran a story under the headline “Hughes Drops Jews,” which suggested that the president of The New Republic magazine was “signal[ing] the publication’s continued drift away from a staunchly pro-Israel standpoint” by dropping “at least five prominent Jewish writers from its masthead.” Critics pointed out that the publication’s editor was Jewish and that half of the writers dropped were not. Goldfarb told the Times that story was meant to be a joke. “We’re true believers, but we’re also troublemakers,” he said, “We get up every day and say, how do we cause trouble?”
…Recalling the Beacon’s repeated insinuations that Chuck Hagel [who’d been nominated to be Obama’s secretary of defense] held anti-Semitic views, the blogger mused: “Goldfarb concedes here that his group’s accusations of anti-Semitism are just for laughs.”
Apparently, not enough people in Washington have gotten the joke. They continue to take this piece of dreck publication seriously, when it should be used for virtual toilet paper.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.