Howard Kurtz Keeps Hilarious Error to Himself Until New Yorker Calls Him Out

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Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Over the course of the day yesterday, a highly amusing comedy of errors came to light regarding a story that media writer Howard Kurtz posted to the Daily Beast on November 27. The story was about the "GOP's New Top Cop" Darrell Issa and featured an interview with Issa himself. Or so Kurtz thought. Actually, he'd been on the phone with Issa's spokesman, Kurt Bardella, something the normally good-natured reporter acknowledged a little icily in a correction Tuesday evening. "My phone rang, I heard the words 'Darrell Issa' and I thanked the congressman for calling," Kurtz recalled. "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." Bardella didn't correct him, even after Kurtz sent him an e-mail thanking him for getting Issa on the phone so quickly.

In other words, it's not hard to see how the mistake was made — crazy as it sounds in retrospect. A couple of days after Kurtz's story ran, Bardella e-mailed the writer to alert him to the problem. So then why did we get the correction only this week, over a month later? From Politico:

“I screwed up,” Kurtz told POLITICO. “I was so puzzled by the note that Bardella sent - about my not having talked to the man I repeatedly called congressman, and who identified himself as Darrell Issa - that I wasn’t sure how serious he was. He didn’t ask for a correction, which he certainly is entitled to if I wasn’t in fact talking to Darrell Issa. Then I got busy with other things and I let it slip, and that was a mistake on my part.”

Part of his mistake, he said, was not talking to his editors about it until recently.

“What made me realize that I should have dealt with this at the time, and I am kicking myself over that, was a call from Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker who had apparently gotten wind of the ‘confusion’ from Bardella,” he said, explaining that Lizza was working on a piece about Issa. “And then I did what I should have done immediately, which was just lay it all out.”

Nothing like The New Yorker breathing down your neck to get you to dot your I's and cross your T's — and to admit that you published an entirely fake interview.

Kurtz Explains Correction's Delay [Politico]