The White House acknowledged on Thursday that some members of the administration may have been invited to high-priced "salons" sponsored by the Washington Post and featuring corporate executives and lobbyists. But in his daily briefing with the press, spokesman Robert Gibbs said that no one, to his knowledge, had accepted the invitation and that the administration's ethics policy most likely would have prevented them from doing so.
"I think some people in the administration writ large may have been invited," Gibbs acknowledged towards the end of Thursday's briefing. "I do not believe, based on what I have been able to check, that anyone has accepted the invitation. Obviously the [White House] Counsel would have to review an invitation like this, and I think it would likely exceed what the counsel would -- the Salon that the Washington Post is offering would likely exceed what [administration] would feel in this case would be appropriate."
The admission that administration officials were likely contacted to attend the proposed Washington Post gatherings is another interesting tidbit in a story that has consumed much of the journalism and political wor.d on Thursday. Early in the morning, Politico reported that the Post was arranging a series of gatherings that would bring together newspaper officials, lobbyists, industry executives and White House officials for a price ranging from $25,000 to $250,000.
Several reporters at the paper told the Huffington Post that they were outraged by the news, having not been told in advance that management or the business side of the operation were considering the salon idea. Even if they did not partake in the events, these journalists felt that having representatives of industries and companies the paper was tasked with covering pay for access to its staff would irrevocably compromise their credibility. For the Obama White House, the association with lobbyists at these salon events would also create a host of ethical dilemmas.
The issue was made moot (at least for the time being) Thursday afternoon, when Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth canceled the planned events.