UPDATE: The Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander has completed his investigation of the Post?s outrageous relationship with Pete Peterson?s pseudo-news agency ?The Fiscal Times?. In short, he found that because the reporter in question used to work for the Post, and because the Post editors came up with the original story idea and signed off on an article rife with omissions and errors, it?s OK for the Post to freelance its work to advocates. Gee, now we feel better.Buried 500 words deep in his analysis, he also acknowledged ?the story had serious deficiencies.? No kidding. ——The New York Timesfollowed up on the Washington Post?s decision to run a ?news? storywritten by an organization created, financed, and controlled by a multi-billionaire with a mission, specifically entitlement foe Pete Peterson.The Times reports:
?The Post published a correction on Tuesday, saying that the article should have explained the connections to Mr. Peterson, but the correction did not address the propriety of the paper?s relationship with The Fiscal Times. Andrew Alexander, The Post?s ombudsman, said Tuesday that he was looking into that question.??Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University, said only time would tell how reliable The Fiscal Times was, and whether The Post?s relationship to the new group was a mistake. But Mr. Sesno said the arrangement was troubling. ?I don?t think it?s possible to have organizations where there?s a single source of funding, and not think there?s a point of view,? he said. ?There can be big ethical problems with jobbing out reporting to an organization when there?s a discernable point of view.?
Farming the Post?s news pages out to interest group financed reporters (regardless of whether they promise to be unbiased on not) should have been an obvious no-no to Post managers. Investing a billion dollars with the stated goal of changing public opinion should not be enough to buy access to the nation?s news pages. We say tell the Post to sell Pete Peterson another full-page ad if he has a message to deliver because publishing propaganda posing as news is just as bad as selling access to Post news managers.We urge you to send a note to the Washington Post Ombudsman, Andy Alexander at [email protected]. Tell him the Post should sever its relationship with the Peterson funded, Fiscal Times, and salvage its already fraying journalistic reputation.