Ben Smith’s BuzzFeed is stumping on behalf of the House members responsible for the purge of top conservatives from committee leadership. They’re accomplishing that trick by having staffers for those House members praise each other. BuzzFeed then reports those comments as evidence that all these House members are tremendous contributors to the Congress.
Sunday, BuzzFeed ran a story titled “23 People Who Will Be Running Washington Next Year.” BuzzFeed names figures like House Speaker John Boehner’s press secretary Michael Steel and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s press secretary Erica Elliott.
To reinforce the notion that these people are power brokers, BuzzFeed quotes … these people praising each other. Really.
Steel, who has worked as Boehner’s flack for years, left Boehner’s office to run House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan’s vice presidential campaign communications in the middle of the recent election season. Obviously, Steel and the rest of the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan campaign team were unsuccessful in getting Republicans into the White House. Nonetheless, Boehner hired Steel back as press secretary after he was part of the losing White House team. It’s unclear what qualifications Steel has that warrant him being in that position, other than the fact he’s been on Capitol Hill since 2003 – longer than most press secretaries. Steel hasn’t responded to a request from Breitbart News for his qualifications. He also hasn’t answered when asked why Boehner hired him back after he lost the election with Romney and Ryan.
BuzzFeed’s Rebecca Berg and Zeke Miller didn’t cite specific qualifications Steel has either. Instead, Berg and Miller quote Steel’s current and former House GOP leadership colleagues praising him. “He has a depth and breadth of institutional knowledge about this place that I respect and admire,” McCarthy’s spokeswoman Elliott said about Steel in the BuzzFeed article.
A now former spokesman for another purge participant, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, praised Steel in the article too, saying he “gets a little testy when stories are bad about his boss — but that’s a good thing, I’m the same way.”
BuzzFeed’s promotion of Elliott is written in much the same way: Steel praises her. “She’s a combination of friendly, well-informed and tough that is extremely effective … She has an extremely amusing Twitter feed.”
Elliott also didn’t respond when asked what were her qualifications for her current position, other than having been there for a while.
Both press secretaries refuse to answer questions on the record about Boehner’s and House GOP leadership’s purge of conservatives from House committees.
But, as Breitbart News first reported Monday evening, Elliott’s boss McCarthy was the one who drafted the secret list of criteria used to conduct Boehner’s purge.
Count on BuzzFeed to fete the purging members of Congress by having their staffers kiss each others’ rings. That’s Ben Smith journalism.