Washington Post Sells Its Soul?

by Melissa Clouthier | July 2, 2009 9:53 am

Since no assumption of a soul or journalistic integrity has been made, it’s not surprising that the Washington Post would sell access to the Media-Obama power-broker axis. Mike Allen of the Politico breaks the story[1]:

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.

And it’s a turn of the times that a lobbyist is scolding The Washington Post for its ethical practices.

“Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate,” says the one-page flier. “Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. … Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders …

“Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. The relaxed setting in the home of 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. …

Well, it’s about time something is made official. You can pay for a ride into space if you have enough money, why not pay for a ride with an important journalist and an Obama insider? Or are they one and the same person?


Ed Morrissey notes the pimp angle[2]:

OK, OK, perhaps it isn’t fair to call the Washington Post a pimp for the White House. Maybe it would be better to call this what it is — prostitution of the press in order to gain cash and sell itself out for access, both for itself and for its clients. After all, with the Post grabbing between $25K-$250K for these soirees, it won’t do to risk its cash flow by being too critical of the White House and its occupants, would it?

Matt Lewis says this raises “serious questions”[3]. That made me giggle a bit. Uh, yeah, that’s an understatement. Still, it’s only shocking if one doesn’t believe this sort of transactional journalism doesn’t already happen. Papers have always been more sympathetic to big advertisers and political buddies. The WaPo selling actual dinner engagements is just more ribald and less subtly unseemly.

James Joyner notes what the big story[4]:

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.

James might have it backwards on the second issue. More likely, the Obama administration has the Washington Post at its beck and call and these shindigs are bon mots [I think I meant bon bons–you know sweet little nothings, but bon mots kinda works too–clever attaboys for the home team-ed.] thrown to the Washington Post in return for services already rendered.


“Gauzy journalism[5]“: the coverage of Michelle Obama by black reporters. This is to my point about journalistic integrity. When it comes to Barack Obama is there any journalistic integrity anywhere in the big rags–NYT, WaPo, etc.?

Cross-posted at MelissaClouthier.com[6]

  1. Mike Allen of the Politico breaks the story: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/24441.html
  2. notes the pimp angle: http://hotair.com/archives/2009/07/02/wapo-a-wapimp/
  3. serious questions”: http://townhall.com/blog/g/96411dce-6382-4674-972c-0855474109ff
  4. James Joyner notes what the big story: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/washington_post_selling_access/
  5. Gauzy journalism: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2009/07/02/are-black-female-reporters-tank-michelle-fabulously
  6. MelissaClouthier.com: http://melissaclouthier.com

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