The New Yorker‘s anticipated, head-turning profile of Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), the recently elected chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is out. While the profile focuses much on Issa’s past — “among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building” — it also includes interesting background from his PR chief, Kurt Bardella:
Issa has set up what his aides call Issa Enterprises, a highly organized effort to manage his image. Kurt Bardella, the spokesman, who is twenty-seven, and whom Issa calls “my secret weapon,” fiercely screens all interviews. Bardella has a reputation as one of the savviest young spokesmen on Capitol Hill, someone who understands the complicated new media environment.
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.”
Rarely do you hear such a “how the sausage is made,” on the record quote, let alone by the communications chief of a powerful congressmen to a major publication. The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza adds more:
Issa stood with Bardella at the booth for Directed Electronics, where he is still on the board of directors, and talked to some of his former employees. Unlike many other companies, D.E.I. was not using models to sell its newest product, the Viper SmartStart, a mobile-phone app that starts your car. “The quality speaks for itself,” Bardella said. “They don’t need any bells or whistles or naked women. But I enjoy the ones that do. I’m a guy, you know. Nothing wrong with admiring God’s work—the plastic surgeon’s work, too, I’m sure. Some of these chicks, though, I just want to feed, because they’re really, really thin. I’m, like, ‘God, eat something!’ ”
The Columbia Journalism Review shoots back at Bardella:
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.