Russia's PR Firm Is Planting Propaganda on Your Favorite Websites

Wouldn't it be nice if we could find a story that would simultaneously indict authoritarian governments, greedy PR firms, and amoral, careless media outlets, all at once? Aha. Yes. Here's one.

Justin Elliott reports that massive evil multinational PR firm Ketchum, which is paid tens of millions of dollars to do reputational whitewashing PR work for Vladimir Putin's Russia, placed several pro-Russia op-ed columns in the Huffington Post and CNBC.com, all without any pesky disclosure (like, for example, "What you are reading is propaganda"). Perhaps the most enjoyable portion of Elliott's story is this statement from HuffPo spokesman Rhodes Alderson, explaining why the professional editors at the (liberal! Pro-human-rights!) site were able to make the tough call of running this Russian PR without even an accompanying explanatory note:

"The job of our blog editors is to make sure all of our posts add value for our readers," Alderson said in a statement. "Part of that is making judgment calls about the transparency of each blogger's motive, even in cases when there is no technical violation of the disclosure policy. A submission by a PR firm raises flags but is not automatically disqualified if the blog adds value and is in keeping with our guidelines."

Thank god we have a strong liberal voice in the new media to give a voice to pro-Medvedev op-eds placed by paid PR firms.

[ProPublica. Photo: AP]