The Washington Post is finally beginning to reveal the true details of the pay-to-play dinner Katharine Weymouth was throwing. Surprise, surprise, the dinner was pretty far down the road of selling access to their pay to play event.
But while Post executives immediately disowned the flier’s characterization, senior managers had already approved major details of the first dinner. They had agreed, for example, that the dinner would include the participation of Brauchli and at least one Post reporter, that the event would be off the record, that it would feature a wide-ranging guest list of people involved in reforming health care, and that it would have sponsorship.
Some members of the newsroom raised objections about attending an event at Weymouth’s house. No change in plans was made.
The only unresolved question was whether the first event would have multiple sponsors or a single one. Brauchli and Weymouth have said they preferred multiple sponsors, to dilute the influence of any particular sponsor. Yet when Weymouth’s office sent out e-mail invitations to the event early last week, only one sponsor, Kaiser Permanente, was listed. (Kaiser officials have said they had not decided whether to participate.)
The WaPo is doing two self-investigations to figure out how this happened. But don’t worry. Even after they discover that the dinner was planned long before current scapegoat Charles Pelton, and therefore someone like Weymouth is the responsible party, they’re just looking forward.
The review, along with a parallel inquiry by Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and Senior Editor Milton Coleman, are aimed at avoiding another episode that could damage the paper’s reputation.
"We think we know what happened, but we want to know if there were any details we missed or if there was something we overlooked," Weymouth said in an interview. "If any of our business practices aren’t clear, we’ll amend them."
This all feels so DC.