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America Blog: Issa aide: Reporters asking GOP to conduct witch hunts of Obama so they can cover them


March 2, 2011- Rep. Darrell Issa, the Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, fired his press secretary, Kurt Bardella, for sending private emails to New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich:

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), less than two months into his tenure as one of the most powerful committee chairmen on Capitol Hill, fired a close adviser Tuesday after learning that the aide had been sharing e-mails with an author working on a book about Washington's political culture.

This is Issa's first scalp.

Ryan Lizza from the New Yorker interviewed Bardella earlier this year. Bardella was open about what he was doing with Leibovich, including sharing private emails. Lizza's article is fascinating on many levels, but the conclusion is stunning:

This long back and forth was the lead-in to a Bardella quote I used in the piece:

[R]eporters e-mail me saying, “Hey, I’m writing this story on this thing. Do you think you guys might want to investigate it? If so, if you get some documents, can you give them to me?” I’m, like, “You guys are going to write that we’re the ones wanting to do all the investigating, but you guys are literally the ones trying to egg us on to do that!”

To me that last quote was one of the most important things Bardella told me. The rest of it—that offices clash over how to leak info and that bookers and reporters are competitive—is interesting but relatively well known, and not very relevant to a piece about Darrell Issa. But that Bardella accused reporters of offering to collaborate with Issa as he launches what will inevitably be partisan investigations of the Obama Administration seemed jaw-dropping. This is exactly the dysfunctional investigator/reporter dynamic that in the nineteen-nineties fed frenzies over every minor Clinton scandal. In his short-lived career, Bardella was witness to the fact that it was all starting over in 2011, now that there was again a Republican House and a Democratic President. From what I know of what Bardella shared, the beat reporters who cover Issa and engaged in this kind of game with Bardella will be the ones most embarrassed by the e-mails that Leibovich possesses.

Got that? DC-based reporters were encouraging Issa's office to conduct investigations of Obama so they could report on the investigation. That warrants an investigation. Those are the emails I want to see.

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