Kurtz leaves DailyBeast after retracted blog post

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Columnist Howard Kurtz left The Daily Beast on Thursday, the same day the website retracted one of his blog posts in which he mistakenly accused NBA player Jason Collins of hiding a previous engagement to a woman before declaring this week that he is gay.

A person close to the matter said Kurtz was fired because this was the latest in a series of high-profile errors, which detracted from the site’s efforts to bolster the credibility of its news coverage. The gaffe also comes as The Daily Beast tries to succeed only online after dropping its print magazine, Newsweek, in December.

The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A spokeswoman for CNN, where Kurtz hosts the TV show “Reliable Sources,” said the network is reviewing the matter. Kurtz’s CNN show is about “how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover,” according to the website. Kurtz is a former media columnist with The Washington Post and was The Daily Beast’s Washington bureau chief.

CNN is also looking into Kurtz’s relationship with the website Daily Download, which lists him as being on its board of advisers. A Huffington Post story on Wednesday noted that Kurtz promoted the site with more than 120 links in April, compared with around 20 for The Daily Beast and fewer for his CNN show.

In the retracted Daily Beast post, titled “Jason Collins’ Other Secret,” Kurtz says Collins “didn’t come clean” about the fact that he was engaged to be married to a woman before declaring he was gay.

But Collins does just that in the eighth paragraph of the Sports Illustrated piece that came out Monday.

“When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue,” Collins wrote.

On Thursday, The Daily Beast retracted Kurtz’s post but left an amended version online, saying it “sincerely regrets Kurtz’s error.”

In the amended version, the website replaces the words “didn’t come clean” with Kurtz saying Collins “downplayed” the engagement and “didn’t dwell on it.”

In 2011, Kurtz misquoted U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi criticizing the White House, which The Daily Beast attributed to him misreading a colleague’s notes. A year earlier, he mistakenly attributed quotes in a story to U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, after actually speaking to his spokesman, Kurt Bardella, on the phone.

On Twitter, Kurtz did not acknowledge any link between the most recent retraction and his departure, although he did apologize.

“Apologies: Jason Collins did mention his engagement in SI article. But he didn’t tell the full story–his ex says she just learned he’s gay,” Kurtz tweeted.

He didn’t respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Kurtz also tweeted that “as we began to move in different directions, both sides agreed it was best to part company.” He added “this was in the works for some time” and that it was time for him to “move on to other opportunities.”

Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown tweeted that Kurtz and The Daily Beast had “parted company … we wish him well.”

A statement from Brown highlighted moves the website is taking to bolster its coverage of Washington, including with new columnists such as Jon Favreau, Joshua Dubois and Stuart Stevens. It also mentions the site won a Webby Award for Best News site this week.


AP Television Writer David Bauder in New York contributed to this report.

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