Huffington Post, CNBC ran articles bought and paid for by Kremlin's PR agency

ProPublica's Justin Elliott reports that a series of opinion columns praising Russia's “ambitious modernization strategy” and “enforcement of laws designed to better protect business and reduce corruption” published in the last two years on and the Huffington Post were written by "seemingly independent professionals" but were paid PR placements "on behalf of the Russian government by its public-relations firm, Ketchum."

In other words, the Kremlin paid Ketchum to write (or acquire) then place puff pieces in the online publications; neither the Kremlin nor Ketchum paid CNBC or HuffPo.

Full disclosure: Boing Boing does occasionally run items written by guestbloggers, but we do make sure none of them are being paid to pimp by Putin.



  1. Since Huffington Post does not pay, if follows that they are going to wind up with a lot of material that someone else paid for.

    1. It’s not accurate to say that “Huffington Post does not pay.” I don’t know the numbers on exactly what percentage of their contributors are free vs. paid, but to say that none are paid is nowhere near accurate.

  2. “but we do make sure none of them are being paid to pimp by Putin”

    How can BoingBoing be sure unless they’re using the “enhanced interrogation techniques” du jour??!!

  3. Odd- I have always felt news and information was biased at the least, or typically just verbatim quotes from the people involved (press release), or now just farmed by bots and retouched by someone not even fact checking the material. I thought the internet was going to overcome some of these problems, but it is just making it worse.

    This story feels more like insider rats, rather than “Scoop” blowing the lid off something unthinkable.

  4. At least we’ll never be told how a piece of news or information should gall or please us here. Although knowing the official “Mutant Stance” on everything is extremely helpful.  Especially when trying to successfully navigate social interactions at parties that my Watchismo watches and Boingboing Tees have garnered invites to.  It would be horrifying to be discovered as someone who doesn’t toe the freethinking line.

    1. Deepak Chopra was an early columnist – that’s the moment I knew HuffPo was worthless.

      Then came the link aggregation stories and the unpaid writer complaints.

      Forever worthless – just in seedier and seedier ways. But at least Arianna gets invited to all the best parties now/still.

      1. Arianna used to be Arianna Stassinopoulos before she was Arianna Huffington. She was regularly featured in Interview magazine in the 70s and 80s while she disported herself with the likes of Jacqueline de Ribes and Sao Schlumberger. She doesn’t need HuffPo to get party invitations, just to pay for the jets and jewels.

        1.  Hence my use of the word “still”

          Not being sarcastic. You’re still my fave mod. :) – see – non-sarcastic smiley.

          1. I just mentioned it because I don’t think that people realize that she was a socialite before she was a politico.

          2. Yeah…it’s funny…when I first learned she had reinvented herself as a pundit (or whatever the fcuk) and launched the Huff… Post, I thought to myself WTF? Zsarianna Garborington? 

            I am aware of the criticisms and agree with many, but I do still find the H-Post useful. The comment sections are often interesting, or at least entertaining.  

  5. Well, we certainly know that the US press would never uncritically carry press releases from their corporate overlords or government as if they were actual news!  Certainly not FBI press releases about how “Unconfirmed terrorist chatter indicates that TERRORISTS may be planning to attack $LANDMARK in $YOURCITY over the upcoming holiday weekend and the police and National Guard are being deployed to protect YOU.”  Because the standards of responsible journalism require that they spend a lot of time discussing the possible implications, such as how what the terrorists could do to $LANDMARK or what would happen if they attacked $OTHERLANDMARK instead.

    And the US press, especially highly respected liberal sources such as the New York Times and National Public Radio would never adopt the government’s preferred language, such as “enhanced interrogation techniques” or “harsh interrogation” or “the standard enhanced pat-downs that have always been required”, instead of politically incorrect but more common terminology such as “torture” or “threats of sexual assault intended to produce compliance with newly installed scanners.” 

    (Seriously, I think the first time I heard NPR news use the word “torture” when discussing Gitmo, except for Terry Gross’s interviews, was this decade.)

  6. >”on behalf of the Russian government by its public-relations firm, Ketchum.”

    Gotta mislead ’em all?

  7. I recall in Intro Public Relations class at Eastern Mich U (insert denigrating comment here about how far from ivy league that is) around 1992, the prof explained that a sort of untapped area of PR was writing articles favorable to a client, and getting them placed in big mags. He had written an informative article about time clocks used in Olympic trials and NASCAR, which was accepted in something like Time or Car & Driver. Not sure if the mag was aware that he had been paid by Timex or some stopwatch maker to write the article, but the brand was mentioned multiple times in the article. Wheee!

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