Atlantic Media publisher David Bradley is defending the corporate-sponsored, off-the-record “salon” dinners that his company has been organizing since 2003, in response to TPMmuckraker’s report yesterday on the dinners.
In a 1500-word “letter” posted on The Hotline, Bradley refers to “concerns I’m reading now on the web” (no attribution, naturally), before explaining why he thinks the salons — which, as we wrote yesterday, are very similar to the Washington Post‘s planned event that ignited a furor last week — “are full of good purpose.” (He adds that they’re also “part of my best thinking on how we carry forward (read fund) modern journalism.”)But Bradley falls back in part on the same defense that Post publisher Katherine Weymouth used, unconvincingly, last week: I didn’t read the marketing materials — obtained by TPMmuckraker — and they don’t reflect the true nature of the events. He writes:
The Washington Post’s Katharine Weymouth had not begun, in fact, the hosting of policy dinners; I am six years into this work. What we do share in common is that I, too, had not read our marketing materials. I don’t believe ours are egregious but I now know they do not all reflect the central fact of our conversations – dialogue and debate, without the advance of a particular interest. Due diligence now begun, we will make sure that future materials reflect exactly the spirit and facts of the dinners.
That may not be the only modification to the events in the future. Bradley also suggests that the off-the-record nature of the salons may change:
Responsive to the situation, The Washington Post is evolving its view as to off-the-record settings. I am addressing this topic in the company of our colleagues.
And he admits:
I would not rank this last week among my favorites in publishing.
You sort of get the impression that, from the moment Politico‘s report on the Post‘s planned salon came out last week, Bradley knew it was only a matter of time before the focus turned to his own events.