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July 5, 2009
WaPo publisher apologizes for 'new venture'
Washington Post publisher Katherine Weymouth still doesn't get it. What she refers to in a published apology in today's paper as a "new venture" doesn't begin to describe the lapse in ethics and integrity the now defunct "salon" idea represented:
From the outset, we laid down firm parameters to ensure that these events would be consistent with The Post's values. If the events were to be sponsored by other companies, everything would be at arm's length -- sponsors would have no control over the content of the discussions, and no special access to our journalists.
If our reporters were to participate, there would be no limits on what they could ask. They would have full access to participants and be able to use any information or ideas to further their knowledge and understanding of any issues under discussion. They would not be asked to invite other participants and would serve only as moderators.
It's not the money so much, Katherine. It's the spectacle of bringing lobbyists and administration officials together in an informal setting to discuss legislation and tactics and the ostensibly neutral Post acting as a go between. The very idea of journalists facilitating the advancement of a partisan agenda by the White House does not seem to bother Weymouth because she doesn't even mention it.
This is worse than ABC turning their news division over to the White House for a day. No explanation of how the Post would maintain an "arms length" arrangement with sponsors can alter the fact that the Post was asking for money to assist the White House in selling their programs.
Oh well. What more (or less) could we expect from the Washington Post.