The Future of Hooker Ads At The Post

As loyal FishbowlDC readers know, we’ve followed the Post’s relationship with “hooker adsrather closely (for better or for worse).

Why? Simple: In one of her rare moments of actually chastising the Post, ombudsman Deborah Howell called out the paper for running these ads and, yet, almost a year later, nothing has changed.

Last August, Howell said:

    Many newspapers of comparable quality do not take massage parlor ads — the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe. The Post should join them.

Since then, questions about these ads have been raised around the country. The New York Press announced that it would no longer run the ads. The New York Sun’s Lenore Skenazy has asked New York magazine and the Village Voice why they continue to run the ads.

    “Our policy has been and remains that if ever the authorities bring us any evidence at all that illegal activity is behind any of the services or businesses advertised in our magazine, those advertisers will no longer be welcome,” a spokeswoman for New York, Serena Torrey, said.

When Howell asked the Post’s VP and counsel Mary Ann Werner for the paper’s policy, she got a response similar to the one offered by Torrey:

    “We don’t knowingly accept advertising from an illegal business, but we do have to rely on licensing authorities and law enforcement to determine that a business is not operating legally.

Of course, Howell revealed that the Post had already looked into this issue and determined that, in fact, the ads weren’t so innocent.

    For years, stories in The Post and other newspapers have pointed out that massage parlors are often thinly disguised houses of prostitution.

All of which is to say: As the momentum to reject “hooker ads” grows, will Howell’s legacy be that, on one of the few issues she took the Post to task on, they ignored her?!?