Friday, July 3, 2009

The WaPo Access Scandal Is All About How You Spin the Program

The Washington Post is taking a lot of heat for its planned exclusive "salon" at the home of WaPo publisher Katharine Weymouth, where for as much as $250,000, the Post offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record access to "those powerful few" — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and even the paper’s own reporters and editors.

But this kind of stuff goes on in D.C regularly.

In March, I attended WSJ's Future of Finance Initiative conference,where Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, spoke on the record. Attendees, sans the press, were even bussed over to the White House for a private meeting with Larry Summers. Among those that jumped on the bus, were David Rubenstein, Robert Rubin, George Soros, Arthur Levitt and Roger Altman.

If WaPo made a faux pas, it was on being too upfront about it being a meeting of insiders. These meetings are usually couched as being for the "good of the country", or the "good of the future of the world", rarely is it openly stated, as WaPo did in its marketing literature, that it's about gaining "non-confrontational access."

WaPo probably just lost touch with the fact that the folks out in the hinterlands can still get shocked when they here this stuff can go on.

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