Media outlets scramble to cover the departure of media critic Howie Kurtz from the Daily Beast/Newsweek
Media critic/reporter Howie Kurtz has left his job as Washington bureau chief at Newsweek/Daily Beast following a tough week in which the website retracted a column he wrote on newly out gay NBA player Jason Collins.
In the column published Wednesday, Kurtz said Collins had not admitted he had been engaged to a woman during the time he was keeping his sexual orientation secret. But the athlete, who wrote a first person account announcing he was gay for Sports Illustrated, referred to the engagement in the story and in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos which aired Tuesday.
In comments released on Twitter, Kurtz implied that his departure was not due to the controversy over his error, which received loads of criticism on social media, websites and blogs.
“I've enjoyed my time at the Daily Beast but as we began to move in different directions, both sides agreed it was best to part company,” he wrote on Twitter. His next message read: “This was in the works for some time, but want to wish all my colleagues continued success with a terrific website.”
Along with the Collins mistake, Kurtz saw the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone publish a story detailing his efforts to publicize and populate The Daily Download, a media-centered website founded by Lauren Ashburn, a longtime guest on his CNN show. “Judging by his output,” the story paraphrased an unnamed source at the Daily Beast saying, “the high-profile media critic seems to be spending more of his time these days on Daily Download than The Daily Beast.”
After Kurt's departure was announced, Calderone published another story asking more questions about the website.
(Full disclosure: I have contributed stories to the Daily Download as a freelance contributor and allowed posts from this blog to be featured there. I have also appeared regularly on Kurtz's CNN media analysis show, Reliable Sources.)
The New York Times quoted an unnamed source at the Daily Beast saying “This is not a reaction to the Jason Collins story or the Daily Download situation….It’s been apparent for some time that Howie has a lot of other irons in the fire.”
As one of the most visible media critics in the country, Kurtz has drawn occasional criticism for everything from balancing his duties as media critic and bureau chief to his work hosting a media analysis show for CNN, which some have said present a conflict of interest for a columnist writing on media. Kurtz has denied such issues, placing disclosures at the end of articles which mention CNN.
Now speculation has turned to his job at the cable channel, which is beginning an extensive makeover of its own. Will Reliable Sources, which remains the highest-profile media analysis show on TV, continue under new CNN worldwide president Jeff Zucker's regime?
That’s a question which may remain to be answered. Kurtz has not yet returned a phone call seeking comment.