One of Politico's best, Byron Tau, tweeted a complaint this morning. And he is right to do so! Because whoever sent the missive he obtained, in which they expressed a desire to "promote through Politico," was being awfully crass:
Pro-tip. Don't write shit like this to reporters. pic.twitter.com/g6sEv0XXO5
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) December 5, 2013
That is, indeed, a good pro-tip, to not write "were hoping to promote" to a reporter. But I have a funny feeling that I know why someone felt comfortable enough to send a Politico reporter something like this, because I read all about it on Erik Wemple's blog:
A review of [Politico reporter Mike Allen's] “Playbook” archives shows that the special interests that pay for slots in the newsletter get adoring coverage elsewhere in the playing field of “Playbook.” The pattern is a bit difficult to suss out if you glance at “Playbook” each day for a shot of news and gossip. When searching for references to advertisers in “Playbook,” however, it is unmistakable.
There is a famous scene from "When A Stranger Calls" that seems apt:
It's worth remembering that it was Mike Allen, actually, who broke the story on the Washington Post's attempt to stage "salons," intended to provide the paper with a new revenue stream by offering "lobbyists and association executives off the record, non-confrontational access to 'those powerful few' -- Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper's own reporters and editors." It was a very good story. At the time, I appreciated it greatly. In retrospect, however, it seems less like a championing of journalistic ethics and more like protection from the competition.
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