We always get a chuckle when the WaPo clucks about some bureaucracy allegedly in scandal because said bureaucracy broke the iron clad rule of ‘good paperwork, always’. Here today the WaPo notes the FBI sent out thousands (doubtlessly the real total is much higher) of ‘special’ national security requests to phone companies without the proper paper work (read the now notorious ‘national security letter’). And shock, many of these requests really had nothing to do with national security! Gambling? Here? And shock, the bureau tried to cover its ass by creating false meta ‘terrorism’ investigation grab all files, putting the requests in them and then scrambled to back date the proper paperwork.
Of all the legacies left to us by the Warlord, must we endure the most shameful? Bad paperwork? According to what’s her face in the story, the FBI ‘technically’ was not in compliance. If only they had contractors on site who could manage and oversee compliance . . .
We take this light heartened tone because a) we’re pretty sure the WaPo doesn’t have the whole story; b) the Bureau always was destined to abuse the Patriot Act; c) under the Patriot Act the Bureau had the power to xerox those ‘nsls’ like an office holiday party derrieres anyway (and did); and d) we are supremely confident nothing will really change. Bin Laden really did kill alot of America that day. Obama engorges the competence challenged (but very vindictive) Permanent National Security State. Hey, it’s a bi-partisan, Martha Stewart ‘good thing.’
On a related note, here’s an interesting take on the WaPo’s own implosion. Feels right. Re the dinners, we’re not as quick to join the beatdown completely. Sure, we’ve mocked them before. This story’s context offers a slight pause before deriding the idea. Why? The narrative presumes that the Post or any institution practices a self policing profession called journalism with enforceable rules of ethics and codes. Oh wait. So it’s now really more an agreement to pretend it’s a licensed profession? Rather than financial/political amalgamations? The WaPo can stamp its foot and claim it’s journalism; the rest of us know better. The issue was and always has been ‘price’.
Second, humor the Stiftung and assume that the WaPo actively peddles influence under different guises and has for decades — albeit with different forms of ‘compensation’. Granted the salons show astoundingly bad judgment on optics. But in the debauched D.C. of today, the WaPo is actually late to the party. Salons are not as completely crazy for financially imploding institution to try. (You can suspend the assumption now if you still think the WaPo would naturally wear white to its wedding).
We set up and ran dozens — if not more — of ‘special’ dinners/salons between courtiers and the powerful for cash and ‘influencing’ – going both ways. It’s not too far from setting up a private poker party or an evening of private liaisons. (The weekend trips featured the metaphorical and concrete variety). Going back decades. We kept our events usually away from the media naturally. But there’ve been events similar to what the WaPo had in mind. Reporters might get free entree in exchange for no attributions. In return, they get access. Or negotiation for a scoop in return for favorable coverage. Massaging the channel. So a Sadie Hawkins approach is scandalous? Please. Ask yourself: influence peddling among corporations and journalists? For Goodness Sake, what is Davos after all?
It’s strange it took the WaPo so long to stumble into this Subic Bay Shore Leave mindset. Tout le monde as we noted was feeding at the sponsored salon tables even in the 1990s. What rendered it problematic is some faint whiff of pomposity posing as ‘ethics’ still in the air at the Post, smelly like wet socks. It’s horrible optics. Which means it could have worked. If the Post waited another 2 years it’d be passe. Or simply spun it better now. They would be celebrated as cutting edge. Perhaps if they inked a deal with Cupertino to feature a salon on the iTablet (whatever) with Apple at launch? CNBC would spend segments raving about ‘vision’.
People, you have to work with what you have. And The Dean, Richard Cohen and Howie Kurtz do not a franchise make. And no. You’re not even worth 10 cents a day.