Andy Alexander, ombudsman for the Post, has now weighed in on the “salon” scandal. His post provides some news about how the flier came to be distributed:
The flier came out of the office Charles Pelton, who joined The Post recently to find ways to generate business through conferences and events. The Post, like many struggling newspapers, is desperately seeking new sources of revenue.
“There’s no intention to influence or peddle,” Pelton said this morning. “There’s no intention to have a Lincoln Bedroom situation,” referring to charges that President Clinton used invitations to stay at the White House as a way of luring political backing.
Pelton said newsroom leaders, including Brauchli, had been involved in discussions about the salons and other events.
“This was well developed with the newsroom,” he said. “What was not developed was the marketing message to potential sponsors.”
Brauchli acknowledged discussions, but said they had centered on “identifying events that we think are worthy of newsroom participation, whether it’s a conference or a smaller event.”
Had they talked about where to draw the line on participation by reporters and editors?
“I thought we had,” he said, adding that he takes some responsibility for “not communicating effectively enough what the limitations were for newsroom participation.”
Alexander also deems the story a “public relations disaster” for the Post. Hard to disagree with that conclusion.