“It just wasn’t that sort of thing where you walk in and there’s a whole gaggle of reporters telling you what to do and where to go,” he said, insisting that The Washington Times always exercised sound news judgment in the arrangement. This judgment, of course, has incurred the financially ragged company with the untold expense of defending against a breach of contract charge filed by a major advertising agent, which is, as yet, unresolved.

Dealey was fired from The Washington Times on November 19, 2010. Culligan, meanwhile, has been holding meetings with Cromwell’s group to rebuild that small-p partnership he mentioned. He said that he planned to work with the company again on “international communication,” or advertorials. Projects like CAN are also possible, he said.

“We would look at them again if it came in, but evaluate if it would fit in,” Culligan said. “This was an interesting project, but in the end, the first test of integrity is ‘Is anybody concerned that we were writing for our advertisers or anyone with a vested interest?’”

He paused. “That was not a concern here.”

* This piece originally described Les Neuhaus as an “adventurer,” a description that, on reflection, was not the most accurate way to characterize Neuhaus’s professional background. The relevant sentence has been revised for purposes of clarity.

Ethan Wilensky-Lanford is a writer who has specialized in post-Soviet Central Asia, small-town New Hampshire, New York City crime, and Maine politics. His work has appeared in The New York Times and less well-known papers. He will begin doctoral work in cultural anthropology in the fall at Rice University with a specialty of Islam in Central Asia.