Howard Kurtz, the former Washington Post media critic and current Washington bureau chief at The Daily Beast, suffered some embarrassment earlier this year when he admitted to waiting six weeks before running a correction on a factually inaccurate article. Kurtz thought he was speaking with up-and-coming Republican Darrell Issa, who he quoted extensively, dubbing the man the “GOP’s New Top Cop.” Over a month later, Kurtz issued his correction, clarifying that he had been speaking to Issa’s spokesman, Kurt Bardella, not the congressman himself. But now that Bardella has gone and got himself fired, Kurtz is more than willing to blame Bardella, even for their own unconnected mix-up, which had nothing to do with Bardella losing his job.
Even back in January, Kurtz was defensive, asking Politico, “if the misunderstanding was on my side, why Bardella did not simply point this out when I sent him a note saying, ‘Hey, thanks for getting me the congressman so quickly’?” At the time, Bardella said reasonably, “I just assumed he reached the congressman somehow, and I wasn’t aware of it.”
In the weeks since, Politico reported that Bardella had been sharing his private emails with a New York Times reporter, Mark Leibovich, who is working on a book about D.C.’s political culture. Outrage from the insider elite followed and Bardella was fired, despite the story seeming, to outsiders, like a total “faux scandal.” (The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza has the fairest defense of Bardella, which you can read here.)
But Kurtz, apparently still stinging from his own Bardella-affiliated mistakes, saw the firing as a perfectly acceptable time to throw more pointed accusations at the 27-year-old spokesman. As reported by MediaBistro’s Fishbowl D.C., Kurtz addressed the issue on his Sunday show, Reliable Sources, in convesration with Politico editor-in-chief John Harris, whose site cooked up the Bardella email “scandal”:
“I had my own run-in with Bardella,” Kurtz acknowledged during an interview with Politico’s Editor-in-Chief John Harris, whose reporters, Jake Sherman and Marin Cogan, first broke the story last week that Bardella had shared emails from reporters to NYT’s Mark Leibovich. “I’d asked for an interview with Darrell Issa. He called and impersonated the congressman.”
Kurtz adds this non-regret regret in a tone fitting for someone who stole a lollipop: “And then I made a serious mistake for which I have apologized in waiting weeks to correct after this bizarre situation. I’ve never been in a situation like that.”
It’s petty like a grade-schooler, but also a nice reminder: people in positions of power hate you because everything is your fault, since you don’t yet know how to play the game. Welcome to Washington!