In case you needed another reason to loathe Howie Kurtz, go to Gawker and enjoy. It looks a lot like Kurtz used his profile to help secure a whole lot of funding for a minor wingnut website called the Daily Download along with a minor figure named Lauren Ashburn. Kurtz seems to have drawn a significant salary and helped Ashburn to run the site, then he lied about it when Ashburn started appearing as an ‘independent’ expert on TV shows hosted by Kurtz. The website disappeared with what might or might not be about $600,000 unaccounted for (bolding mine).
After Ashburn abruptly shut down the website in late November, for instance, officials at Maryland Public Television issued several panicked emails about the importance of staying in the Knight Foundation’s good graces. BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, who first noticed the Daily Download’s closure, inspired a separate flurry of emails.
The site never reappeared.
Ashburn later told Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon that “our grant from Maryland Public Television and the Knight Foundation ended” and that “operating an advertising-based niche website without additional funding is tough going in this economy.” But, again, the site did have additional funding, $600,000’s worth, according to Ashburn’s revised budget.
It is not clear how the supplementary funds were spent if, as Ashburn suggests, they were not used to maintain the Daily Download’s website. Nor is it obvious why she never acknowledged the other funds.
You may recognize Laura Ashburn as one of the constant rotation of faces that reads the cue cards that Roger Ailes scribbles in Sharpie every single day. Sadly for Ashburn the scandal could get too hot for FOX and leave her on the street drinking cheap zinfandel from a paper cup, or worse, writing for Breitbart.