Washington’s Newest “Escort Service”

Add another page to the saga of the salons. Ken Silverstein has a post pointing out two events Politico has cosponsored—one with beer lobbyists and another with a consulting group whose corporate and political clients Politico covers. Silverstein’s work suggests that in the salon stone tossing game, Politico may have, if not a glass house, then at least some nice picture windows.

Still, Harris’s response makes some strong points, which to my mind place Politico’s events much higher up the slippery slope governing media sponsored events than the Post’s scrapped attempt.

But enough about that—check out Harris’s dig at the end, which he offers after attesting that he’s not interested in engaging in “name-calling” with the Post—which is, of course, Harris’s old employer:

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.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.