The WaPo’s Broccoli Soup

I’m not so much surprised that Marcus Brauchli has had to admit that he knew the Pay2Play Salons were off the record.

Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli says he knew more about the controversial “salons” the paper had planned than previously has been reported, including the fact that they were being billed as “off-the-record” to potential sponsors.

Brauchli made the acknowledgement in a letter to Charles Pelton, the person hired by the Post to organize what was to have been a series of corporate-sponsored, off-the-record dinners at the home of publisher Katharine Weymouth. Pelton, who resigned from the paper in September, told the Post’s ombudsman the day that POLITICO reported on the salons that Brauchli and other editors had been involved in discussions of them and that the plans had “been well developed in the newsroom.”

[snip]

But in a Sept. 25 letter to Pelton, obtained by POLITICO, Brauchli said he “knew that the salon dinners were being promoted as ‘off the record.’ That fact was never hidden from me by you or anyone else.” And he also acknowledged that he had seen two slide shows on the dinners and received e-mailed copies of the promotional materials for them.

After all, back when the WaPo started to ‘fess up to the fact that “senior managers” knew the details of the Pay2Pay salons, they made it clear those same managers knew they were off the record.

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.

I always assumed when the WaPo said “senior managers,” that probably included the Executive Editor.

But I am interested in a few details. First, Greg Mitchell makes it clear that the Brauchli letter was given to other journalists by the lawyer of Charles Pelton–who Katharine Weymouth and Brauchli tried to scapegoat for the scandal.

However, in a subsequent letter to Mr. Pelton — which was sent to The Times by Mr. Pelton’s lawyer — Mr. Brauchli now says that he did indeed know that the dinners were being promoted as ‘off the record,’ and that he and Mr. Pelton had discussed that issue.”

With that in mind, consider the two investigations the WaPo put together to understand how the WaPo came to sell its editorial line. First, an investigation by the WaPo’s General Counsel.

Weymouth yesterday appointed the newspaper’s general counsel, Eric Lieberman, to review the discussions that led to the controversy.

Much, much more interesting, however, is that the WaPo appointed Brauchli to conduct an investigation.

The review, along with a parallel inquiry by Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and Senior Editor Milton Coleman, is aimed at avoiding another episode that could damage the paper’s reputation.

So Marcus Brauchli, who knew all the details of this, conducted an investigation to find out how it happened. Perhaps pursuant to that, Pelton left the WaPo. And now Pelton is using the NYT and Politico to make sure that Brauchli doesn’t get to blame Pelton in his whitewash.

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz .@JasonLeopold Heh, if there is no Made In Japan shirt, I am still coming after you. Also if no Book of Taliesyn why are we even talking?
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bmaz @JasonLeopold If you really have that shirt, I will come to your house, eat your food and then STEAL IT. Cause I might need that shirt.
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bmaz @JasonLeopold Yes, I was thinking of you when I posted this: https://t.co/VTIOZDYcz8
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bmaz When serial felonious §1001 false statement maker Clapper finally leaves his disservice to US will be to this tune: https://t.co/JNUDF1Y7Oo
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bmaz .@KellyFlood3 Rama-Llama-Ding-Dang! You gotta be kidding me with that. https://t.co/nqD08DxuWS … Still, I love it.
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bmaz RT @KellyFlood3: @bmaz My friend used to llama-sit in PV for Dollyllama, Ramallama, and Dingdong. One got out and had to be chased via pick…
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JimWhiteGNV The black and blue dress: where creationism teams up with thermite.
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emptywheel RT @darth: i for one think net neutrality is off to a great start
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bmaz Currently having a pitcher of margaritas at @TeePeeMex before the call to post at the Camelback Mountain Llama Races http://t.co/DVkVbVOj6r
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JimWhiteGNV It's a little-known fact that climate change affects color perception.
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emptywheel @theurbansherpa Aren't you supposed to be test driving wheel chairs and medicare programs or should I say happy birthday?
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JimWhiteGNV I want one of those Bill Walton Intergalactic Museum t-shirts, but can't find it on the web. ;(
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