How the Howard Kurtz/Darrell Issa Error Happened

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 19 2011 10:25 AM

How the Howard Kurtz/Darrell Issa Error Happened

The best correction of the month, if you missed it, came when Howard Kurtz fixed a November profile of incoming Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa.

In late November, I asked Rep. Darrell Issa’s spokesman, Kurt Bardella, for an interview with the congressman. He said he would see what he could do. That afternoon my phone rang, I heard the words "Darrell Issa" and I thanked the congressman for calling. I asked why "you" made various statements about the president and congressional oversight, and he responded. I called him "Congressman" several times during our discussion... On Nov. 29, after my story ran on The Daily Beast, I got a note from Bardella saying there had been "a little confusion" and "it wasn’t the congressman you spoke with, it was me speaking in his capacity as his spokesman."


How did this become a problem, and how was it corrected? Ryan Lizza just explained this on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. Lizza attended a luncheon with Issa (I was at this same event, I think) and asked for an interview.

LIZZA: I went up to his spokesperson, and said hey, would you guys like to cooperate on a profile? And his spokesperson said yeah, let’s talk after the election, I’m sure we would. So flash forward to after the election. I call, and they’re kind of it lockdown. They don’t want to talk to the press at all, because Issa wants to wait until he’s formally elected chairman. So one day, I sit down at my computer and I read a profile of Darrell Issa in the Daily Beast, a piece by Howie Kurtz.


LIZZA: And the piece quotes Darrell Issa. And it seemed like he interviewed Darrell Issa. I called Issa’s spokesperson, and he said, I said hey, I thought you told me I couldn’t interview Issa? What happened here? And he said Ryan, I swear to God, we didn’t do an interview with Howie Kurtz. Howie was talking to me, and he thought he was talking to the Congressman.

The envy of another reporter: The surest way of getting accountability!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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