No More Feast at the Daily Beast for Howard Kurtz: Tina Brown Drops Him

Politico’s Dylan Byers reported “The Daily Beast is dropping Howard Kurtz, the veteran media critic who made headlines this week for his erroneous report about NBA star Jason Collins.” Kurtz erred in suggesting Collins hadn’t been forthcoming about his fiancee, even though he discussed her on both ABC and in the Sports Illustrated cover story that made “history.” Kurtz’s story was retracted on Thursday.

On top of Kurtz losing his $300,000-a-year Beast gig (which started in October of 2010), TV Newser reported “A source at CNN tells TVNewser that Kurtz’s current deal with the cable channel will likely be his last.” The New York Times had a source claiming it wasn't just a Collins thing:

“This is not a reaction to the Jason Collins story or the Daily Download situation,” said a staff member at The Daily Beast, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the organization wanted Ms. Brown’s statement to be its only public comment.

Kurtz is also active at the Daily Download website, and he and his regular partner in video productions there, the site's executive editor Lauren Ashburn, appear together on the PBS NewsHour. Erik Wemple at The Washington Post had a longer version of that line:

A source at The Daily Beast suggested Thursday that the parting of ways was a matter of accrual, saying, "It definitely wasn't a reaction to what happened yesterday with the Sports Illustrated post. It's been something that for quite some time - there've been some errors like this."

The anonymous source claimed, “Howie’s been quite distracted with other ventures. We were at the point where it was interfering with the quality of The Daily Beast...It kind of lets those people [at the Beast] down...when you have the feeling that someone in a senior position in the organization isn’t as focused.”

Beast boss Tina Brown announced “The Daily Beast and Howard Kurtz have parted company,” then lauded the excellence of her Washington operation “Under the direction of our newly named political director John Avlon.” Avlon likes to pose as the opponent of ideological “wingnuts” -- unless he has to fend off his colleagues at the Beast joking Dick Cheney didn’t deserve a new heart.

On Twitter, talk was sharp. McKay Coppins suggested the bad blood wasn’t new: “As someone who worked at the Beast for a while, I can say that rumors of Howard Kurtz's departure have been flying for at least 2 years.”

Sean Quinn
joked in light of all the Collins goo, “Jason Collins is the Jackie Robinson of getting rid of Howard Kurtz”.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis