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The Beast Has Spoken: Howard Kurtz is Out

Washington Bureau Chief Howard Kurtz is parting ways with The Daily Beast.

As of Thursday, Kurtz no longer works there, according to Politico. But wait. Will Kurtz address the issue that led up to this fallout on his Sunday CNN show “Reliable Sources”?

It was a massive blunder the longtime media critic made Wednesday when he wrote in The Beast that NBA player Jason Collins, who recently came out as gay, failed to disclose he was once engaged to a woman. Kurtz said the same thing in a video for The Daily Download, though Collins did, in fact, make clear in a Sports Illustrated story that he had been engaged to a woman.

The good news for Kurtz, though, is that he can cover his ass by covering his own ass. On “Reliable Sources” Kurtz can redeem himself in the eyes of at least himself if not Gawker, Salon, BuzzFeed and Politico.

The show has a “Media Monitor” segment in which Kurtz notes the debatable issues of the day, like whether a reporter’s erroneous column was appropriately amended. We’ve reached out to Kurtz and one of show’s producers to find out if he’ll be addressing the matter. But in the highly unlikely event that he decides not to cover his own bungle, we’re going to preempt Kurtz’s media monitoring and do it ourselves.

To review… At around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Kurtz wrote in The Daily Beast that Collins “left one little part out” in his coming out: That he was engaged to a woman.

Untrue. After being called out by The Atlantic‘s David Graham and others close to 5 p.m., Kurtz adjusted his piece to read that Collins had “downplayed one detail.”

Also untrue. It’s only about eight paragraphs into the Sports Illustrated story when the engagement bit emerges. The average dyslexic 11-year-old can make it eight paragraphs into a story without breaking into a sweat and calling it quits as Kurtz appears to have done.

Kurtz acknowledged his mistake shortly after 5 p.m. on Twitter. “Apologies: Jason Collins did mention his engagement in Sports Illustrated article, he wrote. “But he didn’t tell the full story–his ex says she just learned he’s gay.”

At around 5:45 p.m. a formal correction was issued at the end of Kurtz’s column. OK, that’s something.

But the piece was still headlined “Jason Collins’ Other Secret.” It still suggested Collins wasn’t forthcoming about having been engaged.

To make matters worse, a video of Kurtz and his colleague Lauren Ashburn discussing the same engagement “detail” was uploaded to The Daily Download.

In the video, Kurtz: confoundedly ask how Collins’ ex-fiancee could “not know” he was gay, says he feels “short-changed” about Collins’ omission-that-wasn’t and makes a joke about Collins having “played both sides of the court.”

The video has since been taken down without explanation. As for the column, The Daily Beast retracted it Thursday.

Kurtz said Wednesday that he believed his analysis wasn’t “out of bounds” but that it was “for others to judge.”

True enough. Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown judged, and now, he’s out the door.

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