Former Bush administration Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has a 9/11 tradition.
Almost every year since 2013, Fleischer has gathered his notes and his recollections, then live-tweeted the events of September 11 as he and President George W. Bush experienced them. It’s a spectacle that revives the atmosphere of the immediate aftermath of the attacks and the environment that the Bush administration stoked to create the War on Terror.
But this year, things are different.
Fleischer announced to the world that starting in 2022, he will no longer live-tweet 9/11.
“I have decided that my story has been told and I will not live tweet what took place on 9/11 again,” he wrote in a Sept. 10 tweet. “In truth, it is exhausting to relive the day. It wears me down to go through it, even though I am not the one who has suffered the most.”
What caught the attention of some critical observers is that Fleischer, via his firm, Fleischer Communications, has a new client: LIV Golf Tour, the Saudi-backed professional golf tournament. Fleischer signed LIV on as a client in June 2022, as the tournament began to take heavy criticism for its nearly full financial backing from the Saudi government’s investment fund.
Zach Budryk, a reporter at The Hill, wrote “cannot get over Ari Fleischer getting a PR job with the Saudis and then announcing that actually his 9/11 play-by-play tweets have run their course.” Others suggested that Fleischer had stopped the tweets “because he now works for the Saudis” and that it was “disgraceful.”
In spite of the criticism, it’s not clear that Fleischer stopped doing his annual relive 9/11 Twitter thread because of his work with LIV. Fleischer, in a statement to TPM, denied that there was a connection.
“As I explained in my tweets, I had to board a flight to travel and the fact that after 21 years there is nothing new to say or reveal, led me to the decision I made,” Fleischer told TPM in an emailed statement. “Any other reason being speculated is a foolish conspiracy theory.”
Suspicion around Saudi government involvement in the attacks has swirled nearly since they took place.
Much of that focused on the so-called 28 pages: a sealed portion of a 2002 congressional investigation into U.S. intelligence community activities before the attacks.
The final portion was released in 2016, documenting investigative leads that purported to show contacts between the attack’s planners and employees of the Saudi government. President Biden last year separately declassified a 2016 FBI report that documented similar links, though neither reported implicated the government itself.
Since then, however, public records show that the Saudi government has invested in outreach about 9/11.
Per FARA filings, at least one lobbyist hired by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Media has spent client hours addressing the attacks.