According to documents registered under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, the firm 30 Point Strategies employed Noam Neusner to lobby journalists and others on behalf of the governments of Serbia and Turkey in 2011.
One of the journalists Neusner contacted multiple times, according to the records, was Jamie Kirchick then at US State Department backed Radio Free Europe and as well as other publications. Neusner submitted that he contacted Kirchick at least three times that year citing the contacts under “potential story.”
Kirchick would go on to write some strange stories on Serbia including one that seemed to have little purpose other than to trumpet the virtues of the US’ relationship with Serbia. Others would attack American politicians for taking a different line than that approved by Neusner’s client in Belgrade.
One story that ultimately ended up at The Atlantic was “From Serbia to Cape Cod”. The July 2011 story comes after Neusner first lists his contact with Kirchick in May of that year. The story details the positive contribution Serbian immigrants are making, that they serve as a “heartening reminder of the opportunity that America still represents to people all over the world.”
According to sources the story was originally slated for the Wall Street Journal but finally ended up at The Atlantic. When contacted by Firedoglake an editor at The Atlantic said they would not have expected Kirchick to have disclosed conversations with lobbyists unless he was given compensation for the story. Whether Kirchick received any compensation for the story is unknown.
So no harm, no foul? In the worst case scenario Kirchick helped bolster Serbia’s image with a feel good news story and gave Neusner a clip he could add to a presentation sheet to tell his client how good a job he was doing. A story promoted by the Serbian government ending up on a US government backed news organizations website like Radio Free Europe is a little disconcerting, but otherwise business as usual in DC.
But then other stories started coming down the pipeline on Serbia that were not so benign. Kirchick began attacking the opponents of the then liberal government in Serbia that employed Neusner who faced an electoral threat from the Serbian conservatives.
Kirchick wrote an article that slammed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for “consulting with Serbian nationalists” regarding the 2012 Serbian Elections where Nausner’s client was under threat from those same politicians.
Kirchick pulled no punches on Giuliani and the conservative party he worked with nor restrained praise for Nausner’s client. Calling the incumbent president a “a pro-Western, liberal reformer well respected in Washington and Brussels.” While labeling Giuliani and his clients the villain saying:
From once righteously calling for American intervention to put a halt to murderous Serb nationalism, to standing alongside a pair of rebranded Serb nationalists, last month’s spectacle in Belgrade represents a new low for “America’s Mayor.”
Ouch. I’m not a particular fan of Rudy Giuliani but it seems like a strange critique to hit him for consulting with one side of an election while you are conversing with the other side’s lobbyist in Washington.
Kirchick would go on to join neoconservative think tank the Foreign Policy Initiative after his stint with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Both are integral parts of the neocon money machine that rolls on despite the public’s comprehensive distaste for neoconservative policies.
Regardless of the politics of Serbia, the question still remains as to how influential foreign lobbyists are in American reporting. While it is unknown if Kirchick received any favor for writing stories 30 Point Strategies’ client wanted, why was the connection never disclosed by Kirchick in the pieces?
If these conversations between foreign lobbyists and American journalists are so benign and inconsequential then what are people like Noam Neusner and Michael Goldfarb getting paid for?