No saintlier man has ever walked the earth than the brilliant and beloved David Bradley.** That goes without saying. But how, exactly, would it help solve the ethical problems created by his corporate sponsored "salons" to put them on the record--as TPM's Zacary Roth , Slate 's Jack Shafer and Bradley himself seem to believe?
The problem with Bradley's salons, like the problems with WaPo 's similar, now-cancelled events, is that they create two big conflicts: 1) The need to avoid pissing off the corporations who fund (and then some***) the salons in the hope of getting access to influential journalists and administration bigshots; and, even more corrupting, 2) the need to suck up to the administration bigshots to get them to show up at the salons where they can be accessed by corporations who are paying for them. ...
Shafer argues that making the "salons" off the record is a key part of Bradley's marketing strategy--it convinces the corporations that they are getting something special.**** Shafer's no doubt right. And generally, "on the record" is good (though "off the record" can be valuable too). Putting the salons on record would also help solve the Atlantic' s seemingly congenital "We're Insiders, Aren't We Great, Look at Us" problem. But I don't see how it would do anything to remove conflicts 1) or 2). ... Plus, even if the meetings themselves are on the record, there would still be plenty of time for off-the-record lobbyist-to-player contacts in the halls or at any pre- or post-event cocktails. (Even if there isn't, just encountering someone face to face can make it easier to "access" them later.)....
P.S.: Marc Ambinder's post quoting Bradley's response without daring to link to what Bradley is responding to is a little creepy. Who is this guy, L. Ron Hubbard? What is Ambinder scared of? At least he gets beaten up in his comments.
the Last Sucker
in his willingness to pay big bucks for opinion journalists, but that in no way influences my opinion of him.
***--Bradley says openly that the salons are "one of our revenue streams."
****--I suspect that the privately funded , non -profitmaking salons Bradley also gives might be another part of the overall effort: If you are a policymaker and you show up at one of his profit-making confabs do you then you get invited to the more exclusive and legit private confab? If your corporation funds one of the profit-making salons do you find yourself invited to the more intimate event? But I am being entirely too suspicious. Bradley is just a wonderful, wonderful man. I am the one who should be concerned--for thinking such bad thoughts. My apologies. ... 4:09 P.M.