Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more questionable in Washington, then along comes this (hat tip Tom).
Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth said today she was canceling plans for an exclusive "salon" at her home 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.
This is not a joke, it was a serious plan whereby the Washington Post was set and ready to use its publisher’s home to bring together lobbyists on the one side and White House and congressional people on the other. Boy, I wish I had that kind of access. But, then again, I would have to pay a lot of money. On second thought, maybe it’s not a good deal. But, hey, if you are a health care lobbyist (the type of lobbyist this event was designed for), then you’ve got the dosh. Why not? Apparently, not every lobbyist felt that way.
The astonishing offer was detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he felt it was a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff."
To sum up, the Washington Post, which last nearly $20 million in the first quarter, has made bringing people together another proposed revenue source. In this case, it was to bring together lobbyists and government and was to be paid by the lobbyists for doing so. When some invited lobbyists felt this was a conflict of interest, Politico was able to get its hands on an invite. As a result, the Post cancelled the event.
Oh, and by the way, if you think that U.S. health care reform proposals are not heavily influenced by lobbyists, you might want to read the full account below.
Update 940AM: Below are some additional sources with reports of damage control by the Washington Post.