Hey, Sailor. Need Some Company From a Journalist? I Can Ask My Friend the Hot HHS Undersecretary to Join Us . . .

Irksome, Politics & Current Events, WTF?

Newspapers are dying a slow, painful death, at least in their present form. Fortunately they have the chance for what we all aspire to: death with dignity, death on their own terms, death without desperate, pathetic bargaining with God.

Will they take that opportunity?

Oh, of COURSE not. Via Politico:

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational 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."

Yep, you read that right. The Washington Post is selling its access to Obama Administration officials — facilitated by its journalists — to the lobbying community. The come-on is as whorish as anything ever uttered from a street corner through an open car window:

“Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. The relaxed setting in the home of [Washington Post CEO and Publisher] 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."

Oooh, hotttttt. But wear a rubber. These folks ain't clean.

Edited to add: Politico has edited its article to add the Washington Post's response, which is, in so many words, that the flier was sent by their business division without the knowledge of the news division and without being vetted. I have two responses: (1) I find it very difficult to believe that the business division would commit specific personnel to participation in an event without getting some level of buy-in from the participants, especially with so much money on the line, and (2) even if it was only the business division's idea, the business division is part of the enterprise and makes major decisions impacting the state of journalism at the Post all the time, and this incident speaks volumes.

Edited again: the Twitter feed at #WaPoDeals is quickly becoming pants-wetting hilarious.

Another edit: The WaPo editorial response.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Brian Dunbar  •  Jul 2, 2009 @8:37 am

    "What kind of a person do you think I am?"
    "We have settled that, madame. Now we are dickering over price."

  2. Linus  •  Jul 2, 2009 @9:15 am

    I'm slow, I guess, but how does "it was our business division, not the news division" mitigate it at all?

  3. David  •  Jul 2, 2009 @9:30 am

    You know we're living in strange times when Helen Thomas starts seeming principled and heroic.

  4. Patrick  •  Jul 2, 2009 @9:47 am

    Katharine Graham no doubt spins in her grave.

    In her day, the White House reserved exclusive, off-the-record social access to one corporation and one corporation alone, Washington Post Company. It would be vulgar to share that gift with the nouveau riche.