Updated 4:15 p.m.
The Daily Beast is parting ways with Washington fixture Howard Kurtz, the news site’s Washington bureau chief, both sides announced Thursday.
Daily Beast boss Tina Brown said in a statement first reported by Politico’s Dylan Byers:
“The Daily Beast and Howard Kurtz have parted company. Under the direction of our newly named political director John Avlon we have added new momentum and authority to our Washington bureau with columnists such as Jon Favreau, Joshua Dubois and Stuart Stevens joining our outstanding DC team of Eleanor Clift, Daniel Klaidman, Michael Tomasky, Eli Lake, David Frum and Michelle Cottle – giving us one of the best politics teams in the business which was instrumental in this week’s Webby win for Best News site.”
Kurtz tweeted about 30 minutes later: “I’ve enjoyed my time at the Daily Beast but as we began to move in different directions, both sides agreed it was best to part company.” He added: “This was in the works for some time, but want to wish all my colleagues continued success with a terrific website.”
It hasn’t been a great week for Kurtz. The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone questioned the media critic’s status as a contributor for the Daily Download, a media-reporting Web site where he appears frequently in videos alongside Daily Download founder Lauren Ashburn. “Reliable Sources,” Kurtz’s Sunday program on CNN, also frequently features Ashburn. And then came the Jason Collins engagement mistake, which stemmed from a first-person by the gay professional basketball player in Sports Illustrated.
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.”
Kurtz drew attention for a 2011 misquote of Nancy Pelosi and for a 2010 story in which he misattributed quotes to California Rep. Darrell Issa.
The source added, “Howie’s been quite distracted with other ventures. We were at the point where it was interfering with the quality of The Daily Beast.” Those other ventures consist of Kurtz’s work for the Daily Download and his CNN program, both of which, the source says, were fully allowable under the terms of Kurtz’s employment with The Daily Beast.
The longtime Washington reporter, says The Daily Beast source, has spent a “considerable amount of his energies” promoting Daily Download content on social media, “as opposed to stories on The Daily Beast.”
The result of Kurtz’s divided attention: “It kind of lets those people down,” says the source, referring to Daily Beast staffers, “when you have the feeling that someone in a senior position in the organization isn’t as focused.”