Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Marketing Firm of Washington, Post and Weymouth

The Washington Post has been forced to cancel an event amid widespread criticism. has the full story here; and below are some highlights:


Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth said today she was canceling plans for an exclusive "salon" at her home where for as much as $250,000, the Post offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record access to "those powerful few" — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and even the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer was detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he felt it was a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.".......

Weymouth said the paper had planned a series of dinners with participation from the newsroom “but with parameters such that we did not in any way compromise our integrity. Sponsorship of events, like advertising in the newspaper, must be at arm's length and cannot imply control over the content or access to our journalists. At this juncture, we will not be holding the planned July dinner and we will not hold salon dinners involving the newsroom. “

"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."


Just to make this clear, what the Washington Post was trying to do here was to hold an event where lobbyists would pay large sums of money to be allowed to attend a party where they could talk to reporters and editors of the paper.

In other words, reporters and editors, who are supposed to report objectively on and remain independent of the people whom they are covering, are accepting money from those people instead, and when caught, are claiming that they would not have allowed this to affect their reporting!

I'm sure this would have been news to the health insurance industry lobbyists who were supposed to pony up a quarter of a million dollars apiece for the chance to convince a Post reporter that the health of their customers is their number one priority, and that a public option will result in us all dying.

I honestly do not know how anyone could trust anything published by the Post at this point. They obviously have no integrity. They were literally planning to act as a marketing firm. I think Dan Froomkin might have quit at this point anyway.

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