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Long-time Scotch Drinking Editor Downplays Junket

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Washingtonian Editor-in-Chief Garrett Graff‘s week long Scotland Scotch junket sponsored by DISCUS was so nothing. Sooooo nothing that he failed to mention it in his 671-word piece – among many he has written on cocktails in his career – that he wrote on Scotch citing some of the so-called “knowledge” he garnered from a 2006 trip. He said he felt no need to mention the trip (or the fact that DISCUS paid for it). See explanation below.

Politico reports today about a variety of journos (including Graff) going on DISCUS’s liquor trips to locales such as Scotland and Kentucky. GQ‘s Ana Marie Cox went on a recent trip to Scotland with DISCUS and talks pretty openly to Politico about what a blast it was. She did not return an e-mail from FishbowlDC inquiring whether there would be a piece for GQ on her trip. Graff is not quoted in the story, but he and his piece are mentioned. The story reports that The Weekly Standard/Daily Caller’s Matt Labash went on a “all-expenses paid” DISCUS bourbon tour of Kentucky in 2002 — he fully disclosed it in his piece.

A note to FishbowlDC from Graff:


Graff: The trip was a heck of an education in lots of ways, even for a longtime Scotch drinker like me. I’ll never forget debating with Christopher Hitchens in a bar on Islay the motives of the “whisky priest” in Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory.” What I learned on the trip was invaluable when I later wrote a Scotch guide, one of the many pieces I’ve written about cocktails and liquor trends–something that the magazine covers almost every month in one form or another.

Many groups and organizers of press trips require promises of coverage
(and sometimes even prepublication review) up front. DISCUS, to its
credit, does not. We have not and will not allow staff to participate
in trips that require promises of coverage. If consistent with
Washingtonian’s guidelines, mission, and directly related to a story
that we would ordinarily write, press trips are allowed from
time-to-time. We do not accept such trips in our local coverage area
for local hotels, spas, resorts, and the like, but make occasional
exceptions for further afield stories that we think would still be
valuable for our readers
. Our policy is we trust our writers’
judgments. If you read the story, I didn’t write about the trip
actually at all; it’s not a travel piece. I just used some of the
general knowledge from the trip as part of a regular piece. Some of
the Scotches I recommended we tasted on the trip, some we didn’t
.

Full disclosure: I was among at least five journalists (including Graff) who attended blogger Carol Joynt‘s Q & A Cafe at The Ritz last week where she interviewed film director Oliver Stone. The lunch was gratis, paid for, I’m told, by The Ritz. I thoroughly enjoyed three-fourths of a piece of sea bass, a few bites of frisee salad and half of a chocolate cupcake. The lunch, I’m told, was worth $50. Hardly a free trip to Scotland, but there you have it.

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