Howard Kurtz Status Under Review at CNN
CNN is reviewing Howard Kurtz's status at the network, a spokesperson tells The Hollywood Reporter. The network is also looking into Kurtz's involvement with the web site The Daily Download after media organizations raised the specter of a conflict of interest between Kurtz's day job and his freelance role at the site that was launched in February 2012.
The review comes after Kurtz was dismissed by The Daily Beast -- where he was Washington bureau chief -- for a widely criticized and error-filled column about NBA player Jason Collins, who came out as a gay in a Sports Illustrated cover story.
The Beast retracted the story.
"The Daily Beast and Howard Kurtz have parted company," said Tina Brown, the Beast's editor in chief, in a statement, adding that new political director John Avlon would assume Kurtz's duties.
The Huffington Post raised questions about Kurtz's involvement with The Daily Download earlier this week. Kurtz regularly contributes to the site and promotes his work for Daily Download on Twitter. (As of Thursday evening, the Daily Download had 924 Twitter followers.) He also has had the site's founder Lauren Ashburn (who has been a Daily Beast contributor) on his CNN show many times. Earlier this week, HuffPo's Michael Calderone reported that Kurtz admitted he receives "some freelance compensation." But he said his position on the site's advisory board is unpaid. Other members of the board include Jeff Jarvis, City University of New York journalism professor, and Sharon Waxman, founder of The Wrap.
The Collins gaffe is not the first error for Kurtz. Last year he wrote a piece for The Daily Beast quoting Rep. Darrell Issa when in fact Kurtz had been talking to Issa's spokesman on the phone. Six weeks after the original story, he wrote a post correcting it and explaining that he did not realize he was talking to spokesman Kurt Bardella. That post appears to have been deleted from the Beast's site. He was also forced to retract a quote attributed to Rep. Nancy Pelosi in which Pelosi supposedly criticized the Obama administration.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that CNN is unlikely to renew Kurtz's contract when it comes up. But network representatives declined to say whether he would be hosting his show this Sunday.