Politico reports that the Washington Post is circulating flyers to lobbyists offering access to its reporters, members of Congress, and Obama administration officials, for between $25,000 and $250,000 per meeting. Politico reposts the text of the flyer that a health care lobbyist received from the Post:
“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. …
“Offered at $25,000 per sponsor, per Salon. Maximum of two sponsors per Salon. Underwriters’ CEO or Executive Director participates in the discussion. Underwriters appreciatively acknowledged in printed invitations and at the dinner. Annual series sponsorship of 11 Salons offered at $250,000 … Hosts and Discussion Leaders … 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. … A Washington Post Salon … July 21, 2009 6:30 p.m.”
As mhking would say, “Just Damn!” Somehow, I doubt that the WaPo either has registered as a lobbyist, or the money spent on this lobbying effort will get reported.
Revisions/extensions (10:04 am 7/2/2009) - The Post sent this trial lead balloon to Politico:
The flier circulated this morning came out of a business division for conferences and events, and the newsroom was unaware of such communication. It went out before it was properly vetted, and this draft does not represent what the company’s vision for these dinners are, which is meant to be an independent, policy-oriented event for newsmakers. As written, the newsroom could not participate in an event like this.
We do believe there is an opportunity to have a conferences and events business, and that The Post should be leading these conversations in Washington, big or small, while maintaining journalistic integrity.
The newsroom will participate where appropriate.
I believe my bullshit meter just pegged.
R&E part 2 (10:17 am 7/2/2009) - Sister Toldjah has the killer headline on this one – “The WaPo or the WaHO”.
Meanwhile, the commenters over at HotAir dug up an interesting January 2001 WaPo editorial:
Gone from any of this is the notion that people give money to candidates or parties for reasons of governing philosophy or positions on issues. The big-money folks give to those who have won or might win. Those in power threaten the contributors in plain language: Give to us or you’ll be squeezed out of the game; give too much to the other guys and you’ll be sorry. It’s the kind of sordid operation that a Mafia don would understand, and both parties play with equal vigor. “We’re a hot ticket these days,” one Democratic fundraiser boasted to The Post. “The fifty-fifty split [in the Senate] means something. People want to play, for sure.”
Plenty of members of Congress dislike what they have become, which is one factor that gives reform this year at least a ghost of a chance. They’d rather be legislating than extorting. But as Arizona Sen. John McCain’s battle for change an uphill one. But the sickening spectacle of a speaker-for-rent as a commonplace of Washington politics makes reform as urgent as it is difficult.
Why do I get the feeling this was an intended, rather than an unintended, consequence of McCain-Feingold?
R&E part 3 (10:22 am 7/2/2009) - HotAir commenter thomasaur has the perfect comment:
Presstitutes working for W. H. O. R. E.
R&E part 4 (12:11 pm 7/2/2009) - With a tip of the hat to Ed Morrissey, the Post’s Howard Kurtz is now saying that the series has been cancelled. Of course, the less-destructive meme that they were selling access to themselves is getting a lot more play than the probably-illegal one of them selling access to the politicians outside the scope of lobbying laws.