Howard Kurtz Defends Himself Against Charges Of Lazy Stenography

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Former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele are teaming up to launch a new middle-of-the-road lobbying/media/consulting firm called “Purple Nations Solutions,” reports Howard Kurtz in a laudatory article already drawing online ridicule.Salon’s Alex Pareene, in his signature prose, writes that “Coincidentally, ‘purple’ is also the color of the crayon Kurtz used to write down all of Davis’ and Steele’s quotes for his article. This is the laziest Howard Kurtz article since… the last one, I guess.”

Davis last made headlines on these pages when he sued Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for stiffing him out of nearly $150,000 in legal fees. Previously, Davis advised the government of deposed Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo on proposed reforms.

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait criticizes both the Washington-based firm and Kurtz’s reporting on it. “Howard Kurtz reports — or, at any rate, writes down — that Steele and Davis are pitching their firm dedicated to urging people to “tone down the negativity and personal attacks,” Chait writes. He continues his tear against Steele and Davis:

In other words, they want less negativity against them. The firm is a nice way for Steele and Davis to reframe criticism of themselves as mean-spirited opposition to bipartisanship. In reality, people like Steele and Davis get attacked not because they break from party dogma but because they are, respectively, a buffoon and a sleaze-merchant. (To be fair, Davis is a buffoon as well.)

Kurtz’s article makes no mention of Davis’ former clients. Nor does it make mention of Steele’s two gaffe-tastic years at the helm of the RNC. Reached by email Monday afternoon, Kurtz defended his piece.

“It’s a piece about Lanny Davis teaming up with Michael Steele, not the various controversies in his career or Steele’s career,” Kurtz told TPM. “Obviously a profile of Lanny would have dealt with lots of other issues.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He’s a native of Minnesota. Reach him at taintor@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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