The conflict-of-interest long knives are out for CNN/Daily Beast media maven Howard Kurtz after BuzzFeed’s LA reporter Kate Aurthur told another reporter about Howard interfering in a story on gay news anchors she was working on when she was at the Daily Beast.
Kurtz told another reporter who had dug up the quote below that Aurthur’s tale was “offensive and absurd.”
“The story was coming along, and somehow Howard Kurtz, a colleague, got wind of it, and sent an email to a top editor who was nervous about the story, saying “I hope this isn’t about AC.” Like he couldn’t even write out his name. Howard Kurtz, media reporter, CNN employee: He interfered with a story about a then-closeted anchor at the network that pays him at the other place that pays him! There should be a “Reliable Sources” segment about it. Eventually, the story became such a pain in the ass, and this particular editor was so nervous about it, that we had to kill it. People just get crazy about the HIDEOUS possibility that you might call a gay person gay.”
Kate is irate: The eventually-killed story was a think piece about outing and the media pegged to a remark Rachel Maddow had made to the Guardian about how gay news anchors have a “responsibility to come out,” which many people took to be about the not-yet-out Anderson Cooper. Our article, written by Tricia Romano, also would have mentioned Fox News’ Shepard Smith.
You have every right to disagree with me. But to take a single e-mail and blow it up into some kind of conflict is just absurd. I criticize CNN all the time, including on CNN. Did the same thing to the Washington Post in the pages of the Post for two decades. It’s ludicrous to suggest I was somehow protecting Anderson Cooper when this was the world’s worst-kept secret. My CNN affiliation is at the bottom of every Daily Beast story I write. I was simply offering the same view on closeted public figures that I have publicly proclaimed for a long, long time. I also don’t like dragging the personal lives of straight people into the spotlight unless there’s a legitimate reason. My approach is to ask people for comment before taking shots at them. To me, that’s basic fairness.
Is Kurtz guilty of conflict of interest?