Washington Babylon — August 13, 2008, 5:31 pm

More Hot Air From David Broder on Speaking Fees

David Broder answered questions from Washington Post readers today during an online chat, and was asked about his acceptance of speaking fees from private groups, a topic I first raised here in June. Here’s the exchange:

Re: Speaking Fees: A few weeks ago, the paper’s ombudsman, Deborah Howell, wrote a critical piece about your acceptance of speaking fees and the fact that you have spoken before groups that lobby Congress on several occasions. How much do think this revelation hurts your credibility? Personally, I find it difficult to take you seriously on any of the issues (like health care) where you accepted fees and accomodations from advocacy groups in the area.

David S. Broder: You are certainly entitled to judge my work by whatever standard you wish. I would simply point out to you that I have never accepted a speaking fee from a health care or medical group since I started covering that policy area 16 years ago.

As I reported, and as Broder has acknowledged, he spoke last October before the Western Conference of Prepaid Medical Service Plans, “an organization comprised of 31 member companies, primarily Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.” The event was held at the La Quinta Resort & Spa, “a legendary hideaway and meeting destination, renowned since 1926 for its charm and serenity. La Quinta Resort & Club features 90 holes of some of the country’s best golf . . . [and] a variety of unique indoor and outdoor treatments including PGA WEST Golf Massage, open-air Celestial Showers Sacred Stone Massage and more.” At almost precisely the same time, Broder wrote a column that was very sympathetic towards a health care plan favorable to Blue Cross.

Broder wasn’t paid a fee for that speech, but he did accept travel and accommodations at the resort, so at minimum he is parsing words. But Broder has apparently spoken at least three other times before health care groups:

  • At the Association for Community Health Improvement in 2005, at the Hyatt Regency in Tampa, Florida. The group is a coalition of for-profit and non-profit hospitals, government health officials, community health centers.

  • At the American College of Physicians, during a lobbying visit the group paid to Washington in the summer of 2005.

  • At the American Academy of Family Physicians in 1999, in Orlando, Florida.

Was Broder paid for these speeches, or did he accept travel and accommodations for the trips to Florida? Maybe the Post should find out. (Broder has very pointedly refused to speak to me about the matter since I first raised it.)

Ever since I wrote the original story Broder has blown smoke about his speaking fees, and the Post has allowed him to do it and even abetted him. When Post ombudsman Deborah Howell asked Broder about his speaking engagements
he initially misled her, then acknowledged that he had broken the newspaper’s own rules. “He also said he had cleared his speeches with Milton Coleman, deputy managing editor, or Tom Wilkinson, an assistant managing editor, but neither remembered him mentioning them,” Howell reported.

Broder also told Howell that he had attended an event at the American Council for Capital Formation, “but did not give a speech” to the group, as I had reported. But as I subsequently noted, a Council publication reported on Broder’s speech to the group and their account even had a picture of him as he addressed the crowd.

It would be one thing if Broder fessed up and apologized, it’s another for him to simply continue to so flagrantly mislead the Post and its readers.

Oh, and even more surprising is that during his online chat, Broder was asked why the Post had not reported on the John Edwards affair story, and he replied: “I was not aware of the Edwards story before this past week, and I was shocked as anyone could be at the news.” Which would make the dean of Washington political reporters more shocked than just about anyone else in the country, since the National Enquirer first reported on Edwards last fall, and the story has been openly discussed and commented on ever since.

Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada



October 2015

Lives by Omission

Lifting as We Climb

Cattle Calls

Getting Jobbed

view Table Content


“One of the peculiar things about economic inequality is that the people who are most articulate about it are not poor, while the poor themselves have said little, at least in print, about their situation.”
Photograph © Reuters/Brendan McDermid
“It would be nice to get through this review without recourse to the term ‘writer’s writer.’ The thing is, in the case of Joy Williams, I have seen the cliché made flesh.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
“Miniatures originated in Persia and were brought to the Indian subcontinent when the Mughals conquered it in the sixteenth century. They could take on almost any subject: landscapes or portraits; stories of love, war, or play.”
Painting by by Imran Qureshi.
“The business of being a country veterinarian is increasingly precarious. The heartland has been emptying of large-animal vets for at least two decades, as agribusiness changed the employment picture and people left the region.”
Photograph by Lance Rosenfield
“Rosie and her husband had burned through their small savings in the first few months after she lost her job. Now their family of five relied on his minimum-wage paychecks, plus Rosie’s unemployment and food stamps, which, combined, brought them to around $2,000 per month, just above the poverty line.”
Illustrations by Taylor Callery

Ratio of children’s emergency-room visits for injuries related to fireworks last year to those related to “desk supplies”:


The ecosystems around Chernobyl, Ukraine, are now healthier than they were before the nuclear disaster, though radiation levels are still too high for human habitation.

The Islamic State opened two new theme parks featuring a Ferris wheel, teacup rides, and bumper cars.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


Subways Are for Sleeping


“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today