Tied to the mast
…but orange now and black

The NYT on WaPo publisher Katharine Weymouth

Find the article here. Sample:

And in some respects, the now-canceled salon on health care seems like an attempt to replicate a golden era for the newspaper in which a seat at a dinner hosted by Katharine Graham, the legendary publisher of The Washington Post and Ms. Weymouth’s grandmother, was the hottest commodity in the Beltway.

The difference? Mrs. Graham bestowed legitimacy (Richard M. Nixon never made the cut, even as president). Ms. Weymouth decided to sell it, with her paper’s editorial integrity apparently thrown in as a parting gift.

On initial reading it seemed to me that “bestowing” legitimacy wasn’t that much less problematic than selling it, then it occurred to me that the relational quality of legitimacy is why the former can work when publicly recognized, while the latter can only work if concealed. It was Graham’s reputation for good and honest judgment that allowed her to legitimize and delegitimize, a reputation that would never have been sustainable if she was in the habit of orchestrating stunts like Weymouth’s $25K per plate “salons for access.”

Some satisfying notes from the back end of the piece:

The fact that it was Politico that broke this story only added to the sting. Started by two former Post reporters, Politico has become a serious competitor right on The Post’s inside-the-Beltway turf, and now has caught the paper on a fundamental lapse in the wall between church and state…

…The president’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, [wondered] aloud at a news conference whether he could afford to take a question from Michael Shear, a Post reporter.

Funny stuff, unless you are the reporter with your hand up.

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