Thursday, July 02, 2009

More Media Cover Up (as in bed sheets)

(HotAir h/t)

See the other UPDATES and original article at HotAir post (WaPo a WaPimp?; Update: WaPo’s Spitzer moment? Update: WaPo confirms)on this... great cover!

Update III: Howard Kurtz provides the official WaPo response, and notes the problem at the end:

The aggressively worded pitch gives the impression that The Post is selling access to special interests, not just to administration officials and lawmakers - which raises a separate set of questions about cozy relationships — but to the people who produce the newspaper. The Post often raises questions about whether corporations, unions and trade associations receive access or favors in return for campaign contributions to political candidates.

Now the fliers have raised the question of whether the newspaper itself is pursuing such a strategy in exchange for hefty fees from special-interest groups. Access to Weymouth herself, a granddaughter of longtime publisher Katharine Graham who took over as chief executive of Washington Post Media last year, would be deemed valuable by those trying to influence The Post’s editorial policies and news coverage.

The Post Co. lost $19.5 million in the first quarter and just completed its fourth round of early-retirement buyouts in several years, prompting Weymouth to look for new sources of revenue.

Kudos to Howard for playing it straight, and getting to the heart of the problem.

Update IV: The escort service has been canceled, as Kurtz reports in an update:

Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth today canceled plans for a series of policy dinners at her home after learning that marketing fliers offered lobbyists access to Obama administration officials, members of Congress and Post journalists in exchange for payments as high as $250,000.

“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.”

Moments earlier, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said in a separate interview that he was “appalled” by the plan and had insisted before the cancellation that the newsroom would not participate.

“It suggests that access to Washington Post journalists was available for purchase,” Brauchli said. The proposal “promises we would suspend our usual skeptical questioning because it appears to offer, in exchange for sponsorships, the good name of The Washington Post.”

It certainly “suggested” that, and much more.