WaPo Covers Obama Garden Party, Omits Attendee's Firm Received Loans from Obama Administration

Yesterday President Obama held court with a receptive suburban liberal audience in a backyard in Northern Virginia. Covering the story, the Washington Post assigned the article front-page real estate in the September 14 Metro section.

While Theresa Vargas and Nia-Malika Henderson  noted that the group was a "partisan audience of about 30 people" which was ridiculed by Republican detractors as a "garden party," the Post staffers failed to note a crucial piece of information regarding one Larry Poltavtsev, the CEO of Target Labs "a green-information technology firm based in Vienna [Virginia]."

Poltavtsev was quoted heartily endorsing President Obama, gushing, "He really understands the needs of small business." What's more, that quote was emblazoned above the front-page picture accompanying the story. But while Henderson and Vargas noted that Poltavtsev had asked Obama "about easing lending for small businesses," they failed to note that his firm has already benefited from a loan backed by Obama administration.

As TheHill.com's Gautham Nagesh reported yesterday morning:

President Obama will meet with members of Northern Virginia's technology community Monday as part of an event to discuss the state of the economy with small-business owners.


Target Labs employs 51 people, 11 of whom were hired last year and 12 who have been added since July as a result of a loan backed by the Small Business Administration. Target Labs is hiring for five positions and hopes to add 15 more by the end of year, provided the firm has access to the needed capital.

Another deficiency in the Post's reporting is the way it characterized Target Labs as a "green-information technology firm," labeling that brings to mind a firm that is working on developing alternative energy or implementing energy conservation strategies.

In truth, Target Labs appears to be your garden variety e-commerce/database management/tech consulting firm that buys carbon offsets to pat itself on the back as a "green" company.

Here's the relevant portion of a October 2008 press release from the Target Labs website:

Target Labs, Inc. has become the only IT Services provider in the Greater DC area to provide IT software development and networking resources with no carbon footprint. As a Green IT company, Target Labs has offset 100% of their electrical power consumption, and 100% of their employee's carbon footprint, Further, they will be offsetting all Carbon emissions associated with any employees who commute to client work site locations. This effort will help their clients who are already undertaking many Green IT initiatives. Target Labs will be providing clients with Carbon Offset certification for all employees. Target Labs is providing this green benefit to their clients at no additional cost.

According to Larry Poltavtsev, CEO, "We had been looking for ways to do our part to help reduce our Carbon Footprint. Thanks to Got Green Energy, we were able to take steps to become a sustainable business, and help our clients achieve their green IT goals. Got Green Energy not only helped us understand and offset our Carbon Footprint, they also helped communicate the change to our employees, and even designed a new logo for us. We are very proud of our efforts to reduce our environmental impact, and that of our employees.

Economy Campaigns & Elections 2010 Congressional Washington Post Online Media Government & Press Larry Poltavtsev Nia-Malika Henderson Theresa Vargas