One further thought on the weekend revelation--thoroughly hashed out here by Gabe--that WaPo editor Marcus Brauchli did in fact know that the paper's marketing department was promoting its salons as off-the-record affairs. Brauchli is maintaining that the NYT reporter simply misunderstood what he was saying and that he did not mislead the reporter--in other words, that he didn't lie. Since we apparently don't have a recording of that conversation, it's impossible to know if that's the case.
But we do have the memo Brauchli sent to the WaPo newsroom after Politico got ahold of the flier promoting the salons and did a story about it--and, in the memo, Brauchli certainly seems eager to give the impression that the flier--and the promises it made to corporate sponsors--was news to him:
A flyer was distributed this week offering an “underwriting opportunity” for a dinner on health-care reform, in which the news department had been asked to participate.
The language in the flyer and the description of the event preclude our participation.
We will not participate in events where promises are made that in exchange for money The Post will offer access to newsroom personnel or will refrain from confrontational questioning. Our independence from advertisers or sponsors is inviolable. [Emphasis added.]
Brauchli doesn't explicitly mention in his memo the flier's "off the record" promise, so I suppose he has some wiggle room here. But the memo certainly seems to be worded in such a way as to convey the message that Brauchli knew nothing about these promises until the memo was distributed (and subsequently reprinted in Politico). If Brauchli knew about the flier and that it was promoting the salon dinners as off the record before it was released, then why didn't he preclude the newsroom's participation from the get-go?