The Daily Beast reports (paywall) that Trump donor, Elliott Broidy, recruited former Ambassador Dennis Ross to crank out op-eds flattering to the UAE and Saudi Arabia. After Ross informed him that The Hill would publish one of his pieces, Broidy told him to invoice him $10,000. Ross was paid. He is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Peace (WINEP), the think-tank affiliate of Aipac.
Broidy is the exceedingly colorful character who is a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He made his fortune as an accountant and later investment manager for the founder of Taco Bell. He was found guilty of paying bribes to New York City officials to land a $250-million contract with a city pension fund. He paid hush money to former Playboy model Shera Bechard after he supposedly “knocked her up.” However, media reports suggest that Broidy may’ve taken a bullet for Trump himself, who had gotten the woman pregnant. Why would Broidy have done that?
Broidy is a consultant who brokers influence on behalf of Middle East potentates and sheiks like the rulers of UAE and Saudi Arabia. He offers some of the world’s most notorious dictators access to the corridors of power in the Trump White House:
Mr. Broidy offered tickets to V.I.P. inauguration events, including a candlelight dinner attended by Mr. Trump, to a Congolese strongman accused of funding a lavish lifestyle with public resources. He helped arrange a meeting with Republican senators and offered a trip to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private Florida resort, for an Angolan politician. And he arranged an invitation to a party at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel for a Romanian parliamentarian facing corruption charges, who posted a photograph with the president on Facebook.
Broidy peddled influence. And Donald Trump is the most extravagant “get” he can offer to these tyrants. So why not pay off a woman whom Trump has impregnated if it will pay hundreds of millions in future dividends?
As an example of Broidy’s reach, he has a $200-million contract to provide defense services to UAE.
Returning to Dennis Ross, his op-ed denounced Iran and warned of its potential collapse. He similarly denounced Qatar, which had just been put under siege by the UAE and the Saudis. Of its media network, Al Jazeera, he said “it continues to incite more than inform.” As an example, he noted that AJ had published a story in which it suggested that Israel may seek to destroy the Haram al Sharif. Despite the fact that Israeli cabinet members and MKs have espoused precisely those views, Ross views such media reporting as “completely untrue and only designed to incite passions.” What is completely untrue is Ross’ claim itself. Further, the latter even suggests that Qatar cease subsidizing Al Jazeera as a quid pro quo for continuing U.S. support in the region. Imagine what the U.S. would say if an Arab government told it to stop government financial support for Voice of America!
Ross also showered fulsome praise on Saudi Arabia:
Saudi Arabia is engaged in a national transformation project in which we have a high stake in its success. And whatever Saudi clerics may have done in the past, they are no longer spreading an intolerant, violent ideology that justifies terror against non-believers.
Ross wrote this pablum before those enlightened Saudis murdered Jamal Khashoggi in cold blood.
He did not inform The Hill about the payment and the publication still has not added any disclosure to the op-ed it published noting the payment. I’ve sent a series of questions both to Ross and The Hill, and neither has responded to repeated attempts of mine.
Needless to say, this is the height of journalistic malfeasance. Op-ed writers are tasked with informing their editors when their objectivity may be shaped or clouded by financial arrangements with the subjects of their published writing.
When Ross told Broidy that he agreed to work with him to promote the UAE’s interests in Washington, the former told him he would not write anything he himself didn’t agree with. This supposedly redeemed the former diplomat’s conscience and affirmed his integrity. But payment from a consultant in return for publishing an op-ed is an egregious violation of journalist ethics. And payment from a figure so sleazy and duplicitous as Broidy boggles the imagination.
I haven’t been able to determine whether The Hill pays op-ed contributors, but someone of Ross’ stature would be unlikely to write anything without being paid for it. In which case, it would mean that he was paid both by his publication and by Broidy for the same piece. That’s nice work if you can get it!
For those of you who may need persuading that the Israel Lobby and its mandarins like Ross are both corrupt and two-faced, this should seal the deal. I find it remarkable that two Democratic administrations placed Ross and his colleague, Aaron David Miller in senior positions to run U.S. policy toward Israel-Palestine. Ross is clearly a creature of the Lobby and never was an independent authority. He carried water for the Israelis just as he carried water for Israel’s allies, UAE and Saudi Arabia in this episode. It should tarnish his reputation beyond repair. But figures like him seem, like cats, to have nine lives regardless of the seaminess of their behavior.