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

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. fester says:

    Time for a blogger ethics panel as we may be making beer money by writing down our opinions

  2. dog bites man

    The only thing new is that that have set a rate sheet.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    So, which paper has Mark Sanford at his beck and call? Certainly, he can’t keep babbling like this of his own volition.

  4. DL says:

    Certainly there’s a guaranteed night in the Lincoln bedroom for anyone paying over the $250 Grand.What is it about political control freaks and their media complexes -beside’s money?

  5. Christopher says:

    What insight! You say that the liberal’s favorite paper the Post “is going down a very steep, slippery slope to losing all journalistic credibility”?

    Ya think?!?

  6. Eric Florack says:

    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.

    There’s a third.
    The actual output of the newspaper is not remarkably different. Ultimately, the only difference here is that they’re admitting they’re getting paid for it.

  7. Eric Florack says:

    Afterthought:

    Does anybody remember, when CNN was charged with having “Special access” to Saddam Hussein, on the basis of writing in their “news”, what Saddam wanted the world to see?

    If I recall correctly, there wasn’t a great deal of noise from the left over the matter, since the left at the time wanted to paint Bush, and not Sodumb Insane, as the aggressor.

    Funny thing; despite the similarities of these two cases, that little point in history hasn’t come up in this conversation. Perhaps, the comparison is uncomfortable for those currently infesting the White House and the press?

  8. Jim says:

    I expect this to gain no traction is the widespread media. If Fox News or the Washington Times contemplated doing this with President Bush’s Whitehouse, it would be the lead story in every media outlet for weeks – just look how Jeff Gannon was treated as opposed to the Huffington Post imbed last week.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    What insight! You say that the liberal’s favorite paper the Post “is going down a very steep, slippery slope to losing all journalistic credibility”?

    Where have you been? From the Post’s editorial page being very friendly to neocon views about Iraq to the firing of Dan Froomkin to their reluctance to use the word “torture”, the WP is hardly “the liberal’s favorite paper”…

  10. Jim says:

    Interested Party,

    You are right…the NYT is the liberals favorite paper but lets face it: the Post skews socially and economically left with its foreign affairs paper being pretty middle of the road. If you look at their endorsements, they are reliably Democratic. Do not pretend that Post is a bastion of Republican support.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    Do not pretend that Post is a bastion of Republican support.

    Oh you needn’t worry, as I am making no such claim…