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Published with permission from Alternet.

In case you still had faith in the political media machine’s integrity, several big outlets have cleared up that misconception for you, by offering news interviews for sale at the Democratic and Republican conventions.

As Lee Fang wrote in a July 1 article for The Intercept, which broke the story:

“For high-rolling special interests looking to make an impression at the presidential conventions next month, one option is to pay a lot of money to a media outlet. Lobbyists for the oil industry, for instance, are picking up the tab for leading Beltway publications to host energy policy discussions at the convention, including the Atlantic and PoliticoFor the right price, some political media outlets are even offering special interviews with editorial staffers and promotional coverage at the convention.”

The Hill newspaper, for example, is sponsoring events at both party conventions and is promising sponsors who pay $200,000 convention interviews with Hill editorial staffers for “up to three named executives or organization representatives of your choice,” according to a brochure obtained by The Intercept. “These interviews are pieces of earned media and will be hosted on a dedicated page on thehill.com and promoted across The Hill’s digital and social media channels,” the brochure promises.

The Hill did not respond to The Intercept’s requests for comment, Fang wrote.

Fang’s article says The Economist and its subsidiary CQ Roll Call have similar deals on the table.

This is a new low even for big media. These news organizations are undeniably morphing into paid advertising and PR for the 1-percenter corporations and billionaires who control the political lobby.

People who care about the importance of journalistic integrity, or the checks and balances of the press—a necessary piece of any healthy democracy—should immediately boycott any news organization willing to stoop this low. This kind of behavior erases the already fuzzy line between the news media and the moneyed class’s greedy interests.

Maybe you aren’t shocked by this because this new low is simply a blatant version of what you already knew had been going on behind the scenes for years, but still, that they are so brazen about it is terrifying. What does it say about the state of the press when these well-known, long-trusted publications are straight-up going, “Hey rich people: ever wanted to buy off a journalist? Now’s your chance!”

It’s upsetting on a whole new level.

April M. Short writes and edits for AlterNet. She previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor.

Photo: Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels the Republican National Convention open in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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