Brian Burgess' last word with the New York Times

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Last week, I wrote a post highlighting the terse email exchanges between Governor Rick Scott’s administration and a correspondent for the New York Times.

The email chain between Communications Director Brian Burgess and reporter Serge Kovaleski really is a must-read, although the back-and-forth between the two had dropped off.

Until yesterday.

Each man resumed grappling with the other over who would get the last word, to the degree where their conversation sounds like a script for a Ben Stiller movie.

Peter La Fleur: I know. I just said that.
White Goodman: I know you just said that.
Peter La Fleur: Okay, I’m not sure where you’re going with this.
White Goodman: Well, I’m not sure where *you’re* going with this.
Peter La Fleur: That’s what I said.
White Goodman: That’s what I’m saying to *you*.
Peter La Fleur: All right.
White Goodman: …Touché.

Thanks to Sunburst – Governor Scott’s open record program releasing his staff’s emails in near-time, we know how how Burgess and Kovaleski’s last go-around went…

Burgess really does try to close off debate:

Serge – your unsupported statement that the Scott administration has “not been more forthcoming with the New York Times” with respect to the selection of Angela Corey is clear evidence that you are approaching this story with some sort of agenda, rather from a position of impartiality.  How much more forthcoming can I be if I’ve already provided you with the exact reason Angela Corey was selected? 

An impartial reporter would take the answers given at face value and report the story.  You, on the other hand, have decided to harass the members of my staff (and now, me) because you apparently harbor a conspiracy theory that there is some kind of secret logic in the choice of this prosecutor over the others in the state.  Is it New York Times policy to force the subjects of your stories to prove a negative? 

I stand by my previous statement that the Governor chose Angela Corey because he has “full faith” in her ability to conduct a fair and impartial investigation, and that the Governor needn’t have any further justification for choosing her.

At which point Kovaleski drops the PIR-bomb, that is, a public information request:

Your response is preposterous and unacceptable. We are looking for information and transparency on behalf of the public – neither of which you or Gov. Scott are willing to deliver beyond a press release that explains very little. Given that the governor has declined our requests for an interview, we will file a public records request relating to this subject.

Burgess, unfazed, retorts perfectly — and may have gotten in the last word:

Sounds Pulitzer-worthy.

In other words, touche!

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.