Kurt Bardella, the spokesperson who played Issa in that Kurtz interview, addresses the error directly in Lizza’s profile—no doubt part of the reason Lizza phoned Kurtz to check in. And Bardella—a cocky twenty-seven year-old D.C. press kid who later in the piece says he likes to admire God’s work on the promo models, or “chicks,” at trade shows—pulls no punches about the media, and his role in it.
Over lunch at Bistro Bis, a French restaurant near the Capitol, Bardella was surprisingly open in his disparagement of the media. He said, “Some people in the press, I think, are just lazy as hell. There are times when I pitch a story and they do it word for word. That’s just embarrassing. They’re adjusting to a time that demands less quality and more quantity. And it works to my advantage most of the time, because I think most reporters have liked me packaging things for them. Most people will opt for what’s easier, so they can move on to the next thing. Reporters are measured by how often their stuff gets on Drudge. It’s a bad way to be, but it’s reality.”
He marvelled that the Daily Beast recently reported that Issa was fond of referring to himself in the third person. The reporter who wrote the story, Howard Kurtz, had in fact been interviewing Bardella when he thought he was talking to the congressman on the phone. (Kurtz later said that Bardella didn’t indicate that he wasn’t Issa when they spoke.) “I think anyone who knows me well enough knows I’m far too fond of myself to abdicate my own identity in favor of someone else’s,” Bardella told me.
Issa himself then outlines the media strategy he and Bardella are employing now that Issa is playing on the national stage.
The task for Issa Enterprises is thus to help Issa make the change from an outsider, grandstanding for talk-radio partisans and conservative bloggers, to a responsible committee chairman. “You’ve got to move from the right to the center,” Issa told me. “If there was a blog with five listeners or viewers, I had to be on it. Now I have to be on fewer media, but more substantive media. What we’re really trying to do is move an agenda, and that requires that we have the support of the American people and at least a big chunk of Democrats.”
It’s somewhat gratifying to imagine that Bardella—who has some cogent points, even if they were grotesquely couched—might be less cocky after reading Lizza’s article. This is no pre-packaged grab for Drudge. And this is the opposite of lazy. This is the substantive media. And its verdict on his boss is one of the few embarrassing things about it.