The corrupting influence of monied interests is so established by now, such a dog-bites-man story that it can be hard to find novel and compelling ways to retell it. But luckily for us chroniclers of same the sheer depth, breath and audacity of the corruption continues to grow at such a pace that tracking its outer edges makes for good (but depressing) copy.
Today’s latest installment, which has the internet a twitter is the revelation that the Washington Post has set itself up a kind of influence broker for corporate lobbyists, arranging off-the-record dinners with key White House policy makers which lobbyists can attend for the low low price of $25,000. Mike Allen of Politico has the (very good) scoop:
For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.
The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it’s a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.”
The offer — which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters — is a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival.
And it’s a turn of the times that a lobbyist is scolding The Washington Post for its ethical practices.
So far most of the criticism has focused (rightly) on the Washington Post, but what I want to know is: who at the White House was planning to attend and were they aware that this was a high-priced lobbying session? If so, shouldn’t there be repercussions for allowing access to them to be sold?