I don't care about any of this, Nico Pitney is still such a dick:
For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post has offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few": Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and — at first — 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."
With the newsroom in an uproar after POLITICO reported the solicitation, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said in a staffwide e-mail that the newsroom would not participate in the first of the planned events — a dinner scheduled July 21 at the home of Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Katharine Weymouth.
The offer — which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters — was a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival.
I know that newspapers are having cash-flow problems, but this is absolutely beyond the pale. For all the stories about blogger ethics, I don't have access to anyone at the highest levels of government that I can sell.
Their explanation for this is pretty weasel-worded: "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."
First of all, "the newsroom" members were not the only ones involved in this. Second, the "as written" addendum renders this explanation meaningless. A tweak here, a tweak there, and everyone's right back in business. But I'm sure the elites will tell us how this is perfectly normal, nothing to see here, etc.
There's a petition asking the Washington Post to publish a full list of all lobbyists who participate in these salons and trade dollars for access.
These "salons" have already been cancelled, and look what the Publisher says was the real problem:
"Absolutely, I'm disappointed," Weymouth, the chief executive of Washington Post Media, said in an interview. "This should never have happened. The fliers got out and weren't vetted. They didn't represent at all what we were attempting to do. We're not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom."
Translation: "And I would have got away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids."
Well, I'm glad that whole mess is over. Now the Post can go back to being influenced by lobbyists and setting conventional wisdom in Washington without all that dirty money changing hands.