David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Kentucky businessman Vernon Jackson, who pleaded guility to bribing Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), sentenced to 7+ years in prison. He continues to cooperate with the investigation and won't report to jail until sometime after the first of the year.

Sunday's Washington Post front page:

Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

The hope is that a vigorous effort to "define" opponents, in the parlance of GOP operatives, can help Republicans shift the midterm debate away from Iraq and limit losses this fall.

Anyone not see this coming?

TPM Reader BH checks in from New Zealand:

Just reading through the paper this morning in Christchurch, New Zealand, and I see that Channel 1 is planning to air "Path to 911" tonight. Thought everyone might be interested in the fact that this shameless propaganda isn't limited to the states and has the potential to impact people (and history books) everywhere.

If I have my time zones correct, BH is reading the paper on Sunday morning New Zealand time.

Earlier, I wrote that I was starting to think that ABC's role in the "The Path to 9/11" was less about the network being boneheaded and more about it being complicit in a right-wing propaganda push. Says LA Times media critic Tim Rutten:

It is none of those things.

It's an opportunistic and self-interested organization that somehow thought it could approach the most wrenching American tragedy since Pearl Harbor with the values that prevail among network television executives — the sort of ad hoc ethics that would make a streetwalker blush — and that nobody would mind.

I have been particularly fascinated with the internecine war among Republicans being played out in the Rhode Island Senate race. Those who have been following along at TPM's Election Central know the national GOP is spending a small fortune in the Republican primary to save incumbent Lincoln Chafee from a conservative challenger, the thinking being that the moderate Chafee stands a much better chance of winning the general election.

Especially striking has been how little coverage the race has gotten compared to the Democratic Primary in Connecticut, where the national party basically stayed out the way. You would think the GOP spending money in a tight election year to defeat a bona fide conservative candidate would get more attention. For one, the GOP spending money against a pro-life Republican to shore up a pro-choice incumbent validates what religious conservatives have complained about for years: that the GOP only comes calling on Election Day. In this case, they're being ignored on Election Day, too.

In the earlier post about the NYT, Lamont and Lewinksy, I wrote: "Who cares? It's not as if Lamont is touring Connecticut talking about berets and cigars."

To which a TPM reader replies:

No. You're missing this pretty badly (as did Drum). Lamont has been talking about this all spring and summer.

And this is a reporter doing a good job.

Lamont is being asked about it repeatedly because L'affair Lewinsky has long been a standard part of Lamont's attack on Lieberman.

And since the Lamont camp has basically been repeatedly making a false charge, I don't blame a reporter for wanting to pin the candidate down on the precise basis of the attacks.

If L'affair Lewinsky has been a standard Lamont attack on Lieberman, then I would be wrong to say the NYT was ginning up news on this. So, have berets and cigars been a part of the Lamont repertoire (I mean that figuratively, folks)? Shoot me the links, and I'll eat some crow. Late update: However, as a number of readers have pointed, the NYT's characterization of the email that Lamont sent Lieberman way back when does seem a tad misleading. You be the judge.

Yesterday, we touched on the conservative evangelical credentials of the director of ABC's 9/11 hackumentary. But Max Blumenthal has a rundown on the full scope of the right-wing apparatus behind the production and marketing of the miniseries:

A week later, ABC hosted LFF co-founder Murty and several other conservative operatives at an advance screening of The Path to 9/11. (While ABC provided 900 DVDs of the film to conservatives, Clinton administration officials and objective reviewers from mainstream outlets were denied them.) Murty returned with a glowing review for FrontPageMag that emphasized the film's partisan nature. "'The Path to 9/11' is one of the best, most intelligent, most pro-American miniseries I've ever seen on TV, and conservatives should support it and promote it as vigorously as possible," Murty wrote. As a result of the special access granted by ABC, Murty's article was the first published review of The Path to 9/11, preceding those by the New York Times and LA Times by more than a week.

Murty followed her review with a blast email to conservative websites such as Liberty Post and Free Republic on September 1 urging their readers to throw their weight behind ABC's mini-series. "Please do everything you can to spread the word about this excellent miniseries," Murty wrote, "so that 'The Path to 9/11' gets the highest ratings possible when it airs on September 10 & 11! If this show gets huge ratings, then ABC will be more likely to produce pro-American movies and TV shows in the future!"

I figured ABC was mostly guilty of agreeing to air a boneheaded docudrama, but it's starting to look like ABC was also complicit in a right-wing PR campaign.

I was beaten to the punch in lamenting the NYT story yesterday about Ned Lamont criticizing Joe Lieberman for criticizing Bill Clinton's conduct with Monica Lewinksy. Tangential enough for you?

The initial NYT piece makes it clear that the paper steered its on-the-record dinner conversation with Lamont to the decade-old scandal. Who cares? It's not as if Lamont is touring Connecticut talking about berets and cigars.

But the pathetic gotcha journalism continues today with--help us all--a follow-up story that Lamont actually praised Lieberman at the time for his criticisms of Clinton.

Isn't this the sort of ginned-up news that was supposed to have been ushered out with Howell Raines?


Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said Thursday.

In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan.

Via Political Wire

Kevin Drum has more here.

Alert reader LI pointed me towards this fun little Jeb Bush smack-down from this past week.

The backstory here is that Gov. Bush is opposing an incumbent state senator in the Republican primary. The falling out between Bush and Sen. Alex Villalobos came over tuition vouchers and a school class-size amendment.

Given that history, Bush sent out a fund-raising letter for Villalobos' opponent, writing that Villalobos "has abandoned our party's principles and lost his way."

That prompted a strong reaction from fellow Republican and Villalobos supporter Sen. Nancy Argenziano. The St. Pete Times takes it from there:

Argenziano: "The governor has a history reflecting accommodation of special interests as evidenced by the agencies' contracts, and his flexible Republicanism is at odds with both America and actual Republican principles. In his heart of hearts, the governor prefers dictatorship to democracy."

Carole Jean Jordan, Florida Republican Party chairwoman: "Personal attacks on the sitting governor of Florida questioning his character are far beyond the bounds of responsible dialogue. I sincerely hope that Senator Argenziano will reconsider her comments, especially in light of all that Governor Bush has done for the people of Florida and for the Republican Party."

Argenziano: "Carole Jean Jordan can kiss my ass."

If you listen carefully, you can hear the air hissing out of the GOP balloon.