So appropriate after reading The Politico piece informing the public that the Washington Post is sell access to Obama administration officials for $25,000 to $250,000.
"Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate," says the one-page flier. "Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders."
The flier says: “Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. The relaxed setting in the home of Katharine Weymouth assures it. What is guaranteed is a collegial evening, with Obama administration officials, Congress members, business leaders, advocacy leaders and other select minds typically on the guest list of 20 or less. …
“Offered at $25,000 per sponsor, per Salon. Maximum of two sponsors per Salon. Underwriters’ CEO or Executive Director participates in the discussion. Underwriters appreciatively acknowledged in printed invitations and at the dinner. Annual series sponsorship of 11 Salons offered at $250,000 … Hosts and Discussion Leaders ... Health-care reporting and editorial staff members of The Washington Post ... An exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done. ... A Washington Post Salon ... July 21, 2009 6:30 p.m. ...
"Washington Post Salons are extensions of The Washington Post brand of journalistic inquiry into the issues, a unique opportunity for stakeholders to hear and be heard," the flier says. "At the core is a critical topic of our day. Dinner and a volley of ideas unfold in an evening of intelligent, news-driven and off-the-record conversation. ... By bringing together those powerful few in business and policy-making who are forwarding, legislating and reporting on the issues, Washington Post Salons give life to the debate. Be at this nexus of business and policy with your underwriting of Washington Post Salons."
You know something is as bad as it sounds when members of the left and right side of the blogosphere finds it jaw dropping.
From The Left.
Frankly, this is simply incredible. Dana Milbank of the WaPo; he of the hissy fit over Nico Pitney asking a question at an Obama presser should have some comment on this...
Here is an important question - what "key Obama Administration and Congressional players" was WaPo offering? And what were these "players" getting in return? This is simply scandalous.
Didn't Dana Milbank just lecture Nico Pitney about "working in collusion" with the administration? His column on these "salons" ought to be a doozy. I can't wait to read it.
This is no small scheme. Indeed, it's a rather dramatic breach of journalistic ethics and has the potential to do lasting damage to the Washington Post's credibility.
If Allen's report is accurate, I can only hope the Post will quickly cancel these "salons." The damage, though, may have already been done.
From The Right.
We’ve long argued that the national media has been in the bag for Barack Obama, but we didn’t realize that the Washington Post had been appointed to the position of White House Pimp. According to Politico’s Mike Allen, the WaPo has begun offering a new service — matching up lobbyists with administration officials for face time, or whatever else the client has in mind. Like any pimp, er, business manager, they’re not offering it for free, either
This is disgusting, but not surprising. The media has become increasingly ideologically tilted in the past few years with the New York Times editorial page editors increasingly controlling the direction and slant of front page news stories.
Now the Washington Post is going to make you pay to play. You want access to reporters to cover your side of the story? Cough up the cash. More damning, the Obama administration appears to be playing along.
News broke and the Washington Post is doing what it can to backtrack and cover their asses:
In response to requests for comment, The Post issued a statement that stopped short of canceling the event.
Kris Coratti, communications director of Washington Post Media, a division of The Washington Post Company, said: "The flier circulated this morning came out of a business division for conferences and events, and the newsroom was unaware of such communication. It went out before it was properly vetted, and this draft does not represent what the company’s vision for these dinners are, which is meant to be an independent, policy-oriented event for newsmakers.
"As written, the newsroom could not participate in an event like this. We do believe there is an opportunity to have a conferences and events business, and that The Post should be leading these conversations in Washington, big or small, while maintaining journalistic integrity. The newsroom will participate where appropriate."
Then they sent an email to their news division:
In an e-mail to the newsroom on Thursday morning labeled "Newsroom Independence," Brauchli wrote: "Colleagues, A flyer was distributed this week offering an 'underwriting opportunity' for a dinner on health-care reform, in which the news department had been asked to participate. The language in the flyer and the description of the event preclude our participation.
"We will not participate in events where promises are made that in exchange for money The Post will offer access to newsroom personnel or will refrain from confrontational questioning. Our independence from advertisers or sponsors is inviolable. There is a long tradition of news organizations hosting conferences and events, and we believe The Post, including the newsroom, can do these things in ways that are consistent with our values."
Too little, too late.
The cat is out of the bag.