The Politico reports that the Washington Post, for a price of $25,000 to $250,000, is “offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, non-confrontational access to ‘those powerful few’ — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.” While the Politico notes that on-the-record events and conferences are becoming a trend in the newspaper industry, this type of closed, pay-for-access event raises serious ethical concerns. The flier for the event, titled “Health-Care Reform: Better or Worse for Americans? The reform and funding debate,” reads:
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. […] Annual series sponsorship of 11 Salons offered at $250,000 […] 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. […] July 21, 2009 6:30 p.m.
In recent weeks, the Washington Post has editorialized against a public option as a part of health care reform. Defending the status quo of a private insurer-dominated system, the Post wrote, “A public plan is not necessary to maintain a competitive market in health insurance.”
Ezra Klein posts an e-mail sent by Marcus Brauchli, the editor of the Washington Post, to the Post’s newsroom staff which reads, “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.”
,The Post announced that it is canceling its off-the-record salons.