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Washington Post cancels plan to charge lobbyists to attend 'salons'

July 2, 2009 |  1:19 pm

“Appalled” and “disappointed” are among the words — at least the published ones — officials at the Washington Post are using today to describe actions by, well, the Washington Post. As the paper reports:

Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth today canceled plans for a series of policy dinners at her home after learning that marketing fliers offered lobbyists access to Obama administration officials, members of Congress and Post journalists in exchange for payments as high as $250,000.

Weymouth is quoted as being “disappointed,” and Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli is the one who is “appalled.” The salon plan was reported today by Politico.

In its own story, the Post says:

Two Post executives familiar with the planning, who declined to be identified discussing internal planning, said the fliers appear to be the product of overzealous marketing executives. The fliers were overseen by Charles Pelton, a Post executive hired this year as a conference organizer. He was not immediately available for comment.

White House communications director Anita Dunn said today that The Post Co. had approached officials at the Health and Human Services Department to participate in a Weymouth dinner later this month. But, she said, "no senior Obama administration officials had accepted any invitation for the 'salon.' " 

The paper’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, says in a commentary, "For a storied newspaper that cherishes its reputation for ethical purity, this comes pretty close to a public relations disaster."

-- Steve Padilla

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