CBS and commentator Joe Klein parted company Thursday as the fallout continued to spread over his repeated denials that he had written the best-selling novel Primary Colors.
CBS News president Andrew Heyward cast Klein's departure as a resignation, although it was clear the reporter had little choice.
After speaking with him by telephone, Heyward declined to join in the criticism of Klein, saying in a statement he is "deeply troubled . . . that Joe had not been truthful with us or, more importantly, with the public. At this point, however, I'd prefer to leave the moral judgments to others."
In his note to Heyward, Klein, a Newsweek columnist, said: "I feel terribly sorry about any discomfort my actions in the Primary Colors incident has caused CBS." He said: "This has been a confusing and exhausting few weeks for me _ and I feel a strong need to simplify my life at this point."
Klein not only denied that he was the author called Anonymous to CBS anchor Dan Rather and other network executives, he repeated his denials in an on-camera interview in February: "It's not me. I didn't do it. This is silly."
One staffer said there were two camps at CBS: Those who thought Klein should be fired by the network and those who thought he should be "drummed out of the journalistic community."