Let's lay off the Washington Post already

There's no question journalistic principles are under constant assault as media organizations seek novel responses to unprecedented economic pressures. But it's possible the self-appointed guardians of journalistic ethics have their outrage meters set a hair too high.

Just look at the feeding frenzy that ensued after Politico exposed plans by The Washington Post to host an off-the-record dinner at which paying sponsors would be free to mingle with government officials, lobbyists and Post reporters.

Without a doubt, the dinner, as described in a flier produced by the paper's marketing department, was a bad idea. It violated the Post's standards in several ways: by promising that the atmosphere would be non-confrontational and "collegial," by assuring participants that the proceedings would be off the record, and by holding out the possibility of a single sponsor underwriting the entire event.