Conservative sites like Newsmax and Washington Examiner have published Middle East hot takes from “experts” who are actually fake personas pushing propaganda.
Updated Jul. 07, 2020 5:48PM ET / Published Jul. 06, 2020 7:05PM E
If you want a hot take about the Middle East, Raphael Badani is your man.
As a Newsmax “Insider” columnist, he has thoughts about how Iraq needs to rid itself of Iranian influence to attract investment and why Dubai is an oasis of stability in a turbulent region. His career as a “geopolitical risk consultant and interactive simulation designer” and an “international relations senior analyst” for the Department of Labor have given him plenty of insights about the Middle East. He’s printed those insights at a range of conservative outlets like the Washington Examiner, RealClear Markets, American Thinker, and The National Interest.
Unfortunately for the outlets who published his articles and the readers who believed them, Raphael Badani does not exist.
His profile photos are stolen from the blog of an unwitting San Diego startup founder. His LinkedIn profile, which described him as a graduate of George Washington and Georgetown, is equally fictitious (and was deleted following publication of this article).
Badani is part of a network of at least 19 fake personas that has spent the past year placing more than 90 opinion pieces in 46 different publications. The articles heaped praise on the United Arab Emirates and advocated for a tougher approach to Qatar, Turkey, Iran and its proxy groups in Iraq and Lebanon.