Last year, Treviño landed in a bit of hot water when he was dropped by The Guardian for alleged ties to the Malaysian government, which he vigorously denied.
"Joshua Treviño wrote a piece for the Guardian on February 28, 2011 titled 'Peter King has hearings, but is he listening?' The Guardian recently learned that shortly before writing this article the author was a consultant for an agency that had Malaysian business interests and that he ran a website called Malaysia Matters. In keeping with the Guardian's editorial code this should have been disclosed.
'Under our guidelines, the relationship between Joshua and the agency should have been disclosed before the piece was published in order to give full clarity to our readers,' said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief, Guardian US.
Buzzfeed reports that Treviño recently filed disclosures confirming that the Malaysian government hired him through APCO Worldwide, the David All Group and FBC (Fact-Based Communications) Media to write columns for MalaysiaMatters and MalaysiaWatcher, websites that were created and run to bolster the current government while undermining Anwar Abrahim.
As part of the deal, Treviño paid subcontractors to write and place columns in high-profile publications. Some of those subcontractors were Tea Party California Senate candidate Chuck DeVore, Red State writer-with-a-past Ben Domenech, and Rachel Ehrenfeld, neocon fearmonger and Fox News commentator.
Treviño writes it off as a "standard PR operation":
"It was actually a fairly standard PR operation," Trevino told BuzzFeed Friday. "To be blunt with you, and I think the filing is clear about this, it was a lot looser than a typical PR operation. I wanted to respect these guys' independence and not have them be placement machines."
Trevino said neither he nor the client knew what the writers were going to write before it went up.
"I provided a stipend to support their work in this area and they would just ping me whenever something went up," he said.
Domenech, a former Washington Post blogger who runs a daily morning newsletter called The Transom, said he "was retained by Josh's Trevino Strategies and Media PR firm in 2010 with the general guidance to write about Malaysia, particularly the political scene there."
"I did not ever have anyone looking over my shoulder for what I wrote, and the guidance really was just to write about the political fray there and give my own opinion," Domenech said. "Of course, Josh picked me knowing what my opinion was - I stand by what I wrote at the time and I continue to be critical of Anwar Ibrahim, who I think is a particularly dangerous fellow."
Perhaps it was a standard PR operation, just like the one proposed against the Occupy Wall Street movement, the US Chamber of Commerce attempt to smear the SEIU and unions in general, and the HBGary scandal which revealed the plan to smear Glen Greenwald, Daily Kos, and other progressives in an effort to undermine progressive voices on the internet.
My question: Who is executing those "standard PR operations" now?