An American blogger turned down the offer of a lifetime this past weekend: getting paid to do nothing. The slight catch was that he had to publish articles written by someone else on his blog and claim them as his own—no big deal, right?
According to the blogger, David Swanson, after giving a talk at an anti-war event in Washington DC on March 20, he was approached by a young man with a thick Russian accent who introduced himself as Alexsei G. Padalko. This man showed Swanson his business card, which identified him as an air attaché assistant for the Russian Embassy in the US. He bought one of Swanson’s books, asked for an autograph, and then offered to buy Swanson a cup of coffee, in order to discuss prospects of working together “in order to achieve peace.”
Swanson and Padalko met the following day, and Padalko allegedly offered him a certain amount of money to publish already-written articles about the situation in Ukraine as though Swanson had written them himself.
He claimed a personal interest in peace and a desire to keep this secret from his employers. It was fine to email him, he said, but he'd have to give me the articles in person.
Padalko refused to disclose to Swanson the source of both the alleged information and the funding. Swanson says he rejected the offer.
I told him what I considered proper journalistic behavior and he expressed surprise and concern that I would bring up journalism since I was a blogger. Apparently a blogger is someone you can feed propaganda to, while a journalist is someone who's out to get you. I tried to tell him I was actually interested in communicating the facts about Ukraine to the U.S. public and that I thought that doing so would benefit both Russia and peace.
According to Swanson’s blog, a brief email correspondence followed their meeting at the coffee shop, though Padalko has stopped replying.
Ironically, Swanson and his blog actually support pro-Russian views, which seems to have made the incident doubly disappointing in his eyes. (This is also presumably why Padalko felt comfortable approaching Swanson in the first place.) In his reaction post, Swanson calls the regime change in Kyiv a “US-backed violent coup,” the new government “foreign-imposed,” and says he and others are not happy about “the baseless characterizations of Russia's behavior, the lies about your aggression.” But Swanson is adamant that Russia shouldn't try to “fix lies” about Moscow's “aggression” by “behaving aggressively.”