Ed Driscoll

All The President's Newspapermen

Virginia Postrel describes this passage by Jonah Goldberg as putting “the WaPost’s salon scandal in context:”

Perhaps what really offends is the flier’s truth in advertising. If the Post didn’t try to charge for attendance, most journalists, politicians and lobbyists would have leaped at the chance to attend. That’s the way things used to work for Weymouth’s grandmother, Katharine Graham, who hosted Washington’s most famous high-powered salon for decades.Of course, that was when newspapers were hugely profitable and money was the tawdriest medium of exchange. That’s what makes all the outrage so quaint. It’s like passengers on the Titanic refusing to leave their cabins before the steward lays out their evening clothes. Some things just aren’t done.

Ah, the glory days of “Mass With Class.” And as Virginia adds, “And before Kay Graham was hosting those salons, Ben Bradlee was kickin’ it with JFK.”

But flash-forward to the present. Found via the American Power blog, last year, Jeffery Lord of the American Spectator explored how the sausage was made at the Washington Post even before the “salon” was breached, and asked as this brief excerpt highlights, “Who Is Sally Quinn?”

If ever there were a vivid illustration of the reason the New Media thrives while the old liberal establishment media is dying on the vine, its television ratings anemic and circulation numbers dropping like a stone, it is Ms. Quinn’s presumed thunderbolt from what she doubtless once considered a print and electronic version of Mount Olympus. You know, if Sally thinks X and all Sally and Ben’s buddies in the green rooms, newsrooms and drawing rooms of Washington and New York think X, then X must then be The Truth. The Received Truth. Which will in turn be duly dispensed for all the great unwashed out there in America to note and follow in the fashion of Moses and the Ten Commandments.

The problem for Ms. Quinn and what she freely concedes she is part of (“what one would call the liberal media elite,” as she described it the other morning on the CBS Early Show) is that in the world of the New Media (not to mention the wired world of America) everyone — everyone — is on to how Ms. Quinn and her friends operate. Rank-and-file conservative Americans look at this old media campaign to destroy the life of Sarah Palin and remember what was done to people like, say, Clarence Thomas. They get it. They understand condescending arrogance when they see it, have a very real understanding of just who these Palin critics are and what they are really trying to do. By the grace of talk radio, the Internet, and Fox, they also know that the Bastille that was once the liberal media fortress has been overrun — and the key is in their hands. The once powerful ability of Ms. Quinn and her friends to set the American agenda has vanished, leaving behind a crowd of angry would-be power brokers with not much power left to broker.

As Gateway Pundit notes, Quinn “was forced to apologize for previous attacks on Sarah Palin” back in the fall of 2008.* But lately, Quinn’s blaming David Letterman’s smears of the Alasaka governor and her family on — of course — Palin herself.

(*That was the period when even the Post’s ombudswoman could spot the bias in her paper. After the dust had safely cleared of course, and the CEO of the Office of President Elect could inspect his shock troops while the Post seemed to metaphorically fly the “Mission Accomplished” banner.)