A stash of 61,000 leaked Saudi diplomatic documents, which were disclosed by WikiLeaks, reveals “secret Saudi Arabian influence in Arabic media and Islamic religious groups” and covert monitoring of Saudi students in Australia.
They appear to include directives from the government to its embassy in Canberra. Those refer to payments to be made to big Arabic newspapers and other media organizations, seemingly via checks valued at anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000.
In a statement released Sunday, WikiLeaks said, “Most world governments engage in PR campaigns to fend off criticism and build relations in influential places. Saudi Arabia controls its image by monitoring media and buying loyalties from Australia to Canada and everywhere in between.”
A quick perusal by Poynter also came upon an internal summary of a 2008 Saudi cabinet meeting in which it made the following recommendation:
“Supporting objective media campaigns to enlighten consumers in the field of unreasonable consumption patterns; continually reminding consumers not to be affected by certain brand names of commodities and to look for alternatives; and directing the Ministry of Culture and Information to coordinate these campaigns.”
If only Michelle Obama had that sort of marketing oomph behind her anti-childhood obesity campaign.