Conflict of Interest is not Disclosed as Kremlin’s Lobbyist Interviewed on NPR
On July 12, 2018, NPR’s 1A Program covering NATO’s 2018 Summit in Brussels featured Frances G. Burwell identified as Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council (at 2:49 of the podcast).
During her interview, Ms. Burwell discussed Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the German-Russian relations in a positive way, arguing against the U.S. taking a hard stance toward these issues.
Both, the show’s host Joshua Johnson and his guest failed to disclose Ms. Burwell’s affiliation as Senior Adviser at McLarty Associates, a law firm lobbying to advance the interests of the Kremlin-promoted Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Washington, D.C. Emails for clarification to Mr. Johnson at NPR by Free Russia Foundation have not received response, nor has the NPR issued any public acknowledgement of this serious flaw with the interviewee’s objectivity.
For the past two years, major U.S. media outlets have extensively covered McLarty’s lobbying efforts promoting Nord Stream 2 and scrutinizing the shady dealings of its key employee Richard Burt on behalf of the gas consortium and Kremlin-connected oligarchs.
This incident is not an isolated glitch, but a part of an aggressive, well-funded and well-coordinated influence campaign waged by the Kremlin against the U.S. influence and targeting U.S. decision-makers and its general public. Free Russia Foundation staff has ran into Frances Burwell at events dedicated to Nord Stream 2 at the Atlantic Council, where she accompanied vocal supporters of the project including Friedbert Pfluger who has recently been exposed by the U.K. press for his dubious lobbying activity disguised as a scholar.
Free Russia Foundation experts have written about the corruption surrounding the Nord Stream 1 and 2 projects. We have also covered McLarty Associates as one of the enablers of the project in the West (see page 15 of our report). In our view, it is imperative that major media outlets like NPR meticulously verify affiliations of their guests for possible conflicts of interest in the future in order to avoid offering a bully pulpit to the Kremlin and its Western enablers in the US.