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"Newsweek' columnist takes break

Newsweek columnist Joe Klein, who admitted last week he was the anonymous author of Primary Colors, will not write for the magazine for several weeks.

The magazine's editor in chief, Richard M. Smith, told the staff Tuesday that he had asked Klein to reflect on the incident for a few weeks.

He also asked him to meet with staff members to hear their criticism about his having lied to the public for months by insisting that he didn't write the book.

"I want him to hear the full force of your concerns, your confusion and your anger _ if that is what you feel," Smith said. He said he also wanted them to hear Klein's "motivations and his regrets."

Smith also expressed confidence in editor Maynard Parker, who has been widely criticized for allowing the magazine to publish speculation about the novel's author even though Klein had confided the secret to him. Smith said Parker is a great editor who made a big mistake. "We are determined to learn from them and move ahead together," Smith said.

Smith said he wants Klein to remain with Newsweek but still must sort out "the complex issues of how his fiction and non-fiction roles can coexist."

More than a million copies have been sold of the fictionalized behind-the-scenes account of the 1992 campaign _ spiced with sex and an unflattering picture of the "Stantons," the novel's equivalent of the Clintons.

Klein also does commentary for CBS. The network said last week that officials would meet with him this week to discuss his future.