Giuliani Loyalist Ken Kurson Takes the Helm of the New York Observer


We noted last week that the likely mayoral candidacy of former Rat Czar and MTA chief Joe Lhota signaled a push by Rudy Giuliani supporters to turn back the clock to a Giuliani-time New York City.

But it turns out Lhota isn’t the only Giuliani protege ascending in the public eye right now. Staffers at the New York Observer learned Friday that they’ve got a new editor: Ken Kurson.

Kurson touted his “long and honorable journalistic career” to David Carr, who broke the news, and Kurson has certainly been around the media circuit, going all the way back to an internship at Harper’s, moving on to a fact-checking gig at Rolling Stone. Most recently, Kurson comes to the Observer from Esquire, where he was a contributing editor.

But Kurson has some political ties that set him apart from your average ink-stained wretch.

The story begins in July of 2001, when Kurson was profiled in a not-particularly flattering New York Times piece, having recently landed the deal to co-author Rudy Giuliani’s best-selling autobiography-cum-airport-bookstore-tome-of-management-tips.

At the time of the interview, Kurson’s hair was still dyed red to celebrate his excitement about the book deal. How much did Kurson love America’s mayor?

“I revere him. I don’t need to go chasing after everybody who got a big advance to put a few more commas in my bank account and some $10 words in their stories, but once I knew it was Rudy’s project, I was fantastically, desperately interested.”

Kurson’s love affair with America’s mayor didn’t end there. After Rudy left office, Kurson joined him at Giuliani Partners, the secretive consulting firm noted for, among other things, negotiating on behalf of drug dealers, bilking Mexico City, and generally, as Forbes put it, contracting with “businesses and individuals who have come under scrutiny by regulatory and law enforcement officials.”

After that, Kurson followed Giuliani through his ill-fated 2008 presidential campaign as Chief Operating Officer.

More recently, he’s been a partner at Jamestown Associates, a political consulting firm that helps Republicans get elected.

“People will think what they want,” Kurson told Carr. “I will have to earn their trust.” That’s certainly true. With one Giuliani lieutenant running for mayor and the business community already calling for a more glowing reevaluation of Giuliani time, people will certainly be watching to see if Kurson tries to take us back to the future as well.