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Politico and the Washington Post Have Become Virtual "Escort Services" for Moneyed Elites

More and more mainstream media are brokering cozy relationships between politicians and lobbyists.
 
 
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The various elite Washington news organizations that have become caught up in the so-called "pay-for-play” or "salon” scandal have now commenced a circular firing squad of sorts -- in an effort to distance themselves from their peers whose conduct they are trying to paint as worse than their own.

That was evident as the editor-in-chief of the Politico called the Washington Post an "escort service” in response to allegations that it also had too cozy relationships with politicians and lobbyists.

It was Politico that originally broke the story of the Washington Post’s attempt to raise money with "salons” at the home of its publisher.

As Ken Silverstein first disclosed on Harper’s website Tuesday, "Politico itself is hardly virginal when it comes to the wall between reporting and chasing revenue.”

Silverstein uncovered evidence that last year, Politico "co-sponsored a party at the Democratic National Convention with the Glover Park Group, a top Washington lobbying and consulting firm.”

Silverstein posted " an excerpt from Politico’s rapturous coverage” of its party:

And then of course there was the Politico/Glover Park Group party. It seemed to be the hot ticket last night, spread over two different bars to accommodate over 1,000 RSVPs. And the line to get in most definitely was loooong. But not for Ashley Judd: She went straight upstairs to a VIP area. A quick glance at the bottom floor took in politicos and those they cover: Madeleine Albright, Joe Klein, MoveOn’s Eli Pariser, Obama spokesman Bill Burton (who was last seen sitting on a couch working on his laptop), Dan Pfeiffer and his wife Sarah Feinberg (Rahm Emanuel spokesgal Sarah Feinberg), Pelosi staffer Stacy Kerr, RNC spokesman Alex Conant, Washington lawyer Bob Barnett, former WH’er Dan Bartlett (talking to who could have been his younger brother due to the striking similarities, but was ABC’s Jonathan Karl), Time’s Rick Stengel, MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Bronson, MSNBC journos Dan Abrams -- clothes less tight this time -- and David Shuster, former HRC head honcho Howard Wolfson, CBS’s Jennifer Yuille, DeLay right-hand lady Shannon Flaherty, communications guy Peter Fenn, lawyer Don McKay, Reid staffer Rodell Mollineau and H’Wood type Danny Strong. Oh! And the heir to Taco Bell, Rob McKay.

Silverstein’s assessment of all of this was devastating: "This intermingling of celebrities, journalists, and politicians, courtesy of big lobbying money, suggests a cabal of insiders who don’t really care who pays for their partying.”

What was the reaction of John Harris, the editor-in-chief of Politico to the disclosures?

Harris bristled at the suggestion that anything he did was even remotely anything done by the Post, saying: "I strongly don’t accept your interpretation that the Post’s salon events and items you mentioned are equivalent in any way. These are essentially social events… I don’t want to be name-calling with the Post, which I’m admirer of. What troubled me about the salons is that you had it advertising itself as an escort service.”

This isn’t the first time Politico has been caught engaging in this type of activity: Last October, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald wrote about the "cozy relationship” one of its top political writers enjoys with a right-wing operative.

Harris’s response was similar to how David Bradley, the owner of Atlantic, reacted, after it was reported that his magazine had also been the broker for elite "salons” for the city’s lobbyists and politicians

Bradley bristled, too, at the comparison of the salons he ran to those by the Post:

Earnest being my strong suit, I don’t know that I ever have stir-the-world words in me….So as to a topic suddenly in our Washington news, I will go for direct instead.  As there is no secret here, you may know much of this detail already.  Even so, I think it is right that these words come from me directly, over my signature (if that image still pertains).