05/02/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Romney Got Assist On Book From Fortune's Nina Easton [UPDATE]

According to the Boston Globe, when former presidential contender Mitt Romney needed help communicating his ideas with the non-Cylons living in America in his latest book "No Apology: Bleep Blorp Blorp America", he got an assist from Fortune Magazine's Washington bureau chief Nina Easton. That book hits the shelves today, and already, Washington Post Media-Type Guy Howard Kurtz feels "funny" about this latest intersection between journalists and political figures.

According to Boston Globe reporter Sasha Issenberg, Easton is credited in Romney's acknowledgments thusly: "Nina Easton, the noted journalist and commentator, advised me on ways to make the message of what I had written more clear and compelling." Easton is connected to Romney through her husband, Russ Schriefer, who worked on Romney's 2008 campaign.

Issenberg continues:

In an e-mail exchange yesterday, Easton said she was not paid for her work on the book. "Mitt asked me - as a friend and a book author myself - for some input on an early draft. I offered some writer's advice on things like structure and how to better tease out themes in his writing. It wasn't much," Easton wrote.

Elsewhere, Issenberg gets a statement from Stephen B. Shepard, current dean of CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism, saying that someone in Easton's position, "shouldn't be doing work for a political candidate and a potential president. It's a conflict of interest." But does Shepard know how hard it is to earn a living as a journalist? Clearly not, he is the dean of a J-School!

Politico's Michael Calderone reports that Easton's overseers at Fortune are "looking into" the matter.

The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman has perused the foreign policy sections of Romney's book and a story is planned for later today. We'll point you in that direction when it becomes available. In the meantime, he provides an example of the sort of thing that you'd think Nina Easton might be able to help with in her capacity of "teaser out" of themes in Romney's writing:

On page 39, as Romney deals with some historical cautionary tales of national decline, he writes, "England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small." This is a grown man who wants to be president of the United States, writing like a sixth grader. I was so captivated by that offering that it took the keen wit of Matthew Yglesias to remind me that England is not an island. It's a portion of the British Isle.

See? In that example, Easton might have been able to suggest a change that wouldn't have ended teasing out the theme that Romney is some sort of idiot.

UPDATE: Of the book, Ackerman says, "a glance through the remarkable conflation of conservative shibboleths, paranoid global fantasies and deterministic myopia in 'No Apology' makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the perennial GOP candidate might have been better off saying nothing at all."

Key graf (but read the whole thing):

So many things are wrong with Romney's view of an imperiled America that it is difficult to know where to begin. First, the idea that the U.S. is locked in a struggle for global supremacy with "violent jihadists" overlooks the exponential differences in economic resources, military strength, and global appeal between America and an increasingly imperiled band of Waziristan-based acolytes of Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda can attack us; it cannot displace the U.S. as a global leader. It manufactures nothing, trades with no one, and has absolutely nothing to offer anyone except like-minded conspiratorial murderers. In order to disguise these glaring asymmetries, Romney has to use an empty term -- "the jihadists" -- which he cannot rigorously define and with which he means to absorb the vastly different aims and ambitions of rival terrorist groups and separate nations like Iran.

Seems like there's a lot of places where Easton could have provided some better help!

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