Don't feel too bad for the recently canned Daily Beast pundit: Howard Kurtz still has the Daily Download, the bizarre internet talk show that kept him curiously busy even when he had a day job. And it's more than just some hokey hobby—
Kurtz's pet production is under federal contract.
According to federal spending data, Kurtz's co-host Lauren Ashburn was tapped by the Broadcasting Board of Governors "to provide training for international broadcasters on radio, television, internet and multimedia news broadcasting." Although the listing puts the federal "dollars allocated" at $0, government backing of some kind might explain why Kurtz cares so much about the laughably low-budget video series, nearly every single episode of which has fewer views than this video of the Gawker Media pancake machine—by a factor of 100.
If HuffPo's Michael Calderone is correct, and "Kurtz characterized himself [...] as a partner in Daily Download," rather than just an "advisor," his obsession with the piddling web series seems slightly less insane (if a hell of a lot more self-aggrandizing): A startup stake in a fed-supported media property was on the line.
What's still unquestionably insane is the BBG's decision to award the Daily Download anything at all.
Update: A BBG rep wrote in with the following clarification:
The contract that Ms. Ashburn had with the BBG was for a half-day training for our journalists that helped them build interviewing skills. It was completed in 2011.