The Washington Post allowed contributor Ed Rogers to praise Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia without disclosing that he’s a lobbyist for the Saudi Royal Court. The Post has repeatedly allowed Rogers to promote his lobbying clients’ interests without disclosure.
Rogers is the chairman of the BGR Group, a leading Washington, D.C., lobbying group. BGR is part of a vast network of American lobbying and public relations firms that work for the Saudi government. The Post itself has reported on Rogers’ role in promoting Saudi interests. An April 2016 article stated that Rogers “did not immediately return a request for comment” about his lobbying work for the Saudi government and that “Rogers is a contributor to the Washington Post’s PostPartisan blog.”
Rogers and BGR signed an agreement letter with the Saudi Royal Court on August 24, 2015, to “provide public relations and media management services for The Center [for Studies and Media Affairs at The Saudi Royal Court], which includes both traditional and social media forums.” The contract is worth $500,000 per year.
Rogers used his Washington Post space to write a May 16 piece praising Trump’s then-upcoming overseas trip as a “good idea” and an opportunity to “begin a reset even if relief is only temporary.” He added that “the American public responds positively to seeing their president meeting with world leaders, reassuring them of our leadership abroad, and coming to agreements on matters of global importance. Trump’s meetings in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican are opportune settings for this administration to make a bold statement to the world that the United States is stronger and more committed than ever to leading.”
The Post column did not disclose that the Saudi government has paid Rogers and his company. The piece was syndicated to The Plain Dealer, Chicago Tribune, and The Kansas City Star, according to a Nexis search.
Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt disputed Media Matters’ criticism in an email, stating: “The post was not about Saudi Arabia in any way but was a very general look at the political implications of foreign travel.” BGR Group did not reply to a request for comment.
Hiatt told Media Matters in April that if Rogers “lobbies for a specific client or specific issue and then writes about that specific client or issue, I think readers should be made aware, and I’m confident Ed agrees.”
Media Matters has documented numerous instances over the years in which the Post failed to properly disclose Rogers' clients when a piece aligned with their lobbying interests. These disclosure failures include topics such as the environment, military spending, and Wall Street.
This post has been updated with Hiatt’s comment.