News & Criticism

WashPost Peddling Access to Health Care Reporters?

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According to a flier obtained by Politico from a health care lobbyist, the Washington Post is selling access to its top employees. Literally.

Back then, you could drink with the publisher for FREE

"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."

This is actually shocking, from a Journalism Ethics point of view (the paper is offering you the chance to pay money to "alter the debate" on health care at an "off-the-record dinner" with its own "health-care reporting and editorial staff members," and I just don't see any way to pretty up that concept). I'll be curious to see whether the story is confirmed.

Link via Drudge.

UPDATE: Confirmed, and cancelled.