What a disappointing day for journalism. Not minutes after I revisited the dark Playboy saga, I got an email from Lee Stranahan with his video parody of a story I hadn’t even heard yet:
Apparently, WaPo’s publisher hatched a half-baked scheme to pimp the paper’s staff, and the Obama Administration, for huge wads of cash:
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.
I’m still stunned, and was immediately reminded of WaPo “Dickwhisperer” Dana Milbank’s lecture to HuffPo’s Nico Pitney about journalism.
This is an outrage for which the right expletives don’t exist, but in the cranial carnage exists a ray of hope. The byline on the story I just quoted? WaPo’s Howard Kurtz. The most vocal critics of the plan? WaPo’s newsroom.
Who can blame them? Journalist or not, try not to vomit as you read this:
One such flier said: “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.” That flier said a July 21 session would involve “Health-care reporting and editorial staff members of The Washington Post . . . An exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done.”
I haven’t had the chance to publish it yet, but in a May interview, conservative radio host John Ziegler talked at length about the destructive effects of the profit motive on journalism, a rare point of complete agreement between us. This is what you get.
Kudos to Kurtz for reporting on this, and here’s hoping that the actions of a bean-counter don’t tarnish the efforts of honest journalists.