In a post for Harper’s Mag, Ken Silverstein takes a swing at Politico in response to the fire Mike Allen lit under WaPo for offering deep-pocketed lobbyists a chance to mingle with policy-makers and Post journos at a series of “salon” events.
Silverstein calls out Politico hypocrisy; offering examples of Politico-lobbyist love affairs like their Glover Park Group co-sponsored bash at the DNC last August and their invite-only Oktoberfest fete that was co-sponsored by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (a powerful lobby).
Silverstein also claims that Politico editors have been known to aggressively court advertisers and that Mike Allen even sent an email to Politico staff urging them to attend the Oktoberfest party because “the marketing department had spent a lot of time organizing” the event.
When Silverstein contacted Allen for comment, he was directed to Politico Media Director Kim Kingsley who eventually offered up EIC John Harris. He told Silverstein:
“I strongly don’t accept your interpretation that the Post‘s salon events and the items you mentioned are equivalent in any way. These were essentially social events, not journalism events, organized by the business side. There was no business conducted at them. What raised questions about the Post events was turning over the news operation for non-news purposes, and promising special interests they would be connected with newsmakers in a policy-making setting.”
“I don’t want to be name-calling with the Post, which I’m an admirer of. What troubled me about the salons and other similar events held by other media outlets is that you had an organization essentially advertising itself as an escort service. There is nothing wrong with advertisers sponsoring events but they need to be transparent, not an off-the-record setting.”
So, is the “lesson learned” that as long as an organization doesn’t entice participants and sponsors by publicizing their intentions, then the event is A-OK???
Definitely check out Silverstein’s piece at Harper’s for the full scoop. It’s a must-read.