The ‘Response’ Is No Better

Everyone now knows about Politico’s explosive story about The Washington Post appearing to sell lobbyists access to their publisher and reporters and Obama Administration officials.  The Post walked back the story, first saying that the newsroom would not be participating and then canceling the event altogether.

Although blamed on an “overzealous” marketing person, and though the newsroom has in no way been implicated in this, a paragraph from Howard Kurtz’s coverage suggests that — outside of the newsroom in the organization — this was just about as problematic as it could get:

[Publisher Katharine] Weymouth knew of the plans to host small dinners at her home and to charge lobbying and trade organizations for participation. But, one of the executives said, she believed that there would be multiple sponsors, to minimize any appearance of charging for access, and that the newsroom would be in charge of the scope and content of any dinners in which Post reporters and editors participated.

How the publisher of The Washington Post could think that charging lobbyists for access to her home and her paper’s reporters was not problematic is incomprehensible.  How she could think that having multiple sponsors would “minimize any appearance of charging for access” is absurd.

In that vein, it’s somewhat difficult to understand Weymouth’s statement that “This should never have happened.”  What exactly shouldn’t have hapened?

As Chris Hayes stated in his initial response to the Politico story: “If you’d asked me to come up with a story that encapsulates everything wrong with Washington, I couldn’t top this.

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About the Author

Chris Geidner is the award-winning senior political & legal reporter at BuzzFeed and has written for Metro Weekly, The Atlantic Online, The American Prospect,, Salon and other publications, as well as at his blog, Law Dork. He has appeared regularly on television commenting on current affairs, including MSNBC, PBS, HLN & Current. Prior to moving to D.C. in 2009, he served as an attorney on the senior staff at the Ohio Attorney General's Office and had earlier worked for a leading Columbus law firm. An extended biography can be found here, and you can follow him on Twitter.