Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has made no secret of his opinion about New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau, author of a critical Aug. 14 story on the congressman’s business and political interests. Issa refused to cooperate with Lichtblau for the story. Check out this press-release action:
Had The New York Times assigned a different reporter, our response would have almost certainly been different.
Thanks to the ongoing dispute between the paper and the congressman, however, a wider grudge match appears to be taking root. Evidence: Another New York Times reporter is now attesting to Issa marginalization. Charlie Savage last week was putting together a piece on Operation Fast and Furious, a failed federal initiative to combat Mexican gun-trafficking.
He reached out for a statement from Issa spokesperson Becca Glover Watkins. Nothing — no cooperation. “They declined to send it to me, clearly because of the dispute over this story, which I had nothing to do with,” says Savage. “I did not get the sense this was her idea.”
The statement was nothing special. Here’s how it looked in a Washington Post story:
Becca Glover Watkins, a spokeswoman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said committee investigators are “examining the role of White House officials in Operation Fast and Furious, including concerns that their interactions with ATF personnel may have undermined the chain of command in a law enforcement operation and increased risks to public safety.’’
No denial from Issa’s people on this one. Issa spokesman Frederick Hill was the one to deliver the rejection to Savage. His e-mail, part of which is quoted below, referenced one of the sticking points in the Issa-Lichtblau feud:
No beef with you here, but would really like the New York Times to either run a correction or send me a photo of Rep. Issa’s office building from the Shadowridge golf course that your colleague Eric Lichtblau said he saw. I’m concerned that your news organization isn’t dealing on the level with us. Even your paper’s public editor has told us a correction should have been run on this item.