The Washington Post is now falling all over itself in trying to explain the colossal blunder in its “salon” business concept, in which corporations would have paid $25,000 a pop to have drinks with Post, Obama Administration, and congressional insiders. This article tries to explain how the ethical lapse happened.
I appreciate the Post‘s willingness to contemplate its own navel on this incident, but this article and the other explanations I’ve seen simply don’t address the fundamental question — how in the world did someone in a position of authority at the Post not realize the shockingly obvious ethical problem posed by the salon concept? The problem for the Post is that all of the people whose antenna are supposed to tingle when a “pay to play” scenario is outlined apparently felt nothing and said nothing. Journalism relies entirely on the personal ethics of reporters and editors, and if the ethical sensibilities of Post editors and writers are so deadened that they did not hear alarm bells, that is a very serious situation. Perhaps the enormous criticism the “salon” concept has received will reawaken the Post‘s ability to recognize ethical problems. I hope so. The Post is a worthy institution, and it would not be good for anyone if it were crippled by scandal and hindered in its vigorous news-gathering as a result.