Washington Post Selling Access?
It seems that WaPo has figured out a new business model. Mike Allen for Politico:
For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off the record, non-confrontational access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.
The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health-care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it’s a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.”
The offer—which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters—is 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.
There are two obvious stories here. First, the Post is going down a very steep, slippery slope to losing all journalistic credibility. Second, the Post’s management seems to think that they have senior White House staff at their beck and call. If there’s merit to this, it may be a bigger story than the first.
UPDATE: Suitably embarrassed by the instant and widespread condemnation this received, WaPo has retreated:
Executive editor Marcus Brauchli: “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.”
Howie Kurtz adds:
Two Post executives familiar with the planning, who declined to be identified discussing internal planning, said the fliers appear to be the product of overzealous marketing executives. The fliers were overseen by Charles Pelton, a Post executive hired this year as a conference organizer. He was not immediately available for comment.
White House communications director Anita Dunn said today that The Post Co. had approached officials at the Health and Human Services Department to participate in a Weymouth dinner later this month. But, she said, “no senior Obama administration officials had accepted any invitation for the ‘salon.'”
Well, it was a bad idea while it lasted, anyway.
Hat tip: AllahPundit via Twitter