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The Daily Beast has retracted a May 2, 2013, blog post by Howard Kurtz titled “Jason Collins’ Other Secret.” The piece contained several errors, resulting in a misleading characterization of NBA player Collins and the story he co-wrote in Sports Illustrated in which he came out as gay.
 
In that piece, Collins wrote, “When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue."
 
In his original blog post, Kurtz incorrectly stated that Collins “didn’t come clean” about the engagement. In an amended version, Kurtz added that Collins “downplayed” the engagement and “didn’t dwell on it.”

The Daily Beast sincerely regrets Kurtz’s error—and any implication that Collins attempted to hide or obscure the engagement.

High-Flying No More

Sequester Story Crashes

Budget cuts were back in the headlines until Congress caved on airport furloughs after outrage over flight delays. Now the media has lost interest again—likely for good, says Howard Kurtz.

The sequester story has now been grounded, perhaps indefinitely.

SEQUESTER

Lucia, Donovan and Manuel Sian of Silver Spring watch planes takes off at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC on April 22, 2013. While the sequester has led to delays in some regions of the country, flights are still running on time in DC. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post,via Getty)

You remember the sequester, that ticking time bomb that was set to explode as part of the dreaded fiscal cliff. It was a classic Washington drama—relentlessly hyped, obviously artificial—and both parties were determined to avoid a plunge into the abyss.

But after that New Year’s Day compromise that involved a hike for the richest taxpayers, the sequester—$85 billion in automatic budget cuts that were once deemed so drastic as to be unthinkable—went into effect on March 1. And promptly vanished from the media radar.

Politico rips New York Times editor based mainly on anonymous quotes

Man, that Jill Abramson is one tough customer.

There are occasions when the New York Times executive editor has “blown up in a meeting,” an unnamed staffer tells Politico.

She travels a lot.

Oh, and she once told an editor when she wanted a new picture for the home page: “I don’t know why you’re still here. If I were you, I would leave now and change the photo.”

Rejected

Senate Defeats Background Checks

The bipartisan push to tighten rules on gun purchases has failed in the face of fierce NRA opposition. Howard Kurtz on why the post-Newtown legislation fell short.

Despite the backing of longtime NRA backer Harry Reid and conservative Republican Pat Toomey, the Senate failed on Wednesday to muster enough support to pass a compromise measure tightening background checks for gun purchases.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) (R) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) (R) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) speak to the press about background checks for gun purchases, in the U.S. Capitol building April 10, 2013 in Washington DC. (Allison Shelley/Getty)

The vote was 54-46 in favor of the amendment, which is six votes short of the number needed to defeat any GOP delaying tactics.

As the echoes of the Newtown massacre have faded, and with some conservative Democrats wavering, it was clear by the morning that the amendment backed by the White House would fall short of passage.

Lawmaker who tweeted to long-lost daughter tried to fool the press--and it worked

Steve Cohen, a Tennessee congressman, called Cyndi Lauper “hot” in a tweet and then abruptly deleted it.

Which, it turns out, was part of his secret plan.

“It was all a ruse,” Cohen tells me, an effort to fool the media. “I knew by deleting it they would run it, it would give it news, give it life. That was the hook.”

The Democratic lawmaker was right. This Twitter post indeed got some press pickup: "@cyndilauper great night,couldn't believe how hot u were.see you again next Tuesday.try a little tenderness. http://t.co/zz4Orccryf."

Ex-Girlfriend Questions Michael Arrington's Conduct

Are the allegations against Tech Crunch founder Michael Arrington fit to print?

Most media outlets and tech sites have been shying away, but the story has been buzzing across the web anyway, most notably on Gawker (The Daily Beast has been running updates on its Cheat Sheet). It is hard to know whether this widespread reluctance has to do with an innate caution or the desire to avoid crossing one of the most influential players in Silicon Valley.

Now that Arrington has denied the allegations, it seems fair to take note of what is being said. Arrington, who sold Tech Crunch to AOL for $30 million, left the site in 2011 after a dispute with Arianna Huffington over whether he could simultaneously launch a venture capital fund.  

Jenn Allen, a former Arrington girlfriend who is chief executive of the startup company RTist.com, began the drama with a broadside on her Facebook page. She said she loved Arrington for more than eight years but now can’t get herself out of bed:

PREEMPTIVE STRIKE

Hands off Those Debates!

Stuart Stevens and other Republicans want the networks excluded from the presidential face-offs. Howard Kurtz on why they’re wrong.

It’s not surprising that Stuart Stevens wants fewer presidential debates, since his candidate Mitt Romney got beat up in so many of them.

Republicans Debate

Republican presidential candidates Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich answer questions at a debate in November 2011 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Stuart Stevens has suggested that the networks should be excluded from the debates. (Richard Shiro/AP)

But his suggestion, in his debut column for The Daily Beast, that the debates be wrenched away from the networks is way off the mark. Maybe he’s suffering from posttraumatic debate syndrome, but these televised extravaganzas actually give the country a good look at how the candidates perform under pressure.

Stevens complains that the likes of MSBNC, CNN, and Fox reduced the face-offs to a “great, cheesy reality show.” And it’s true that the 2012 events got juiced up with a bit of showmanship and music and the occasional gimmick. But by and large, the moderators asked solid and substantive questions of the people who wanted to be president (or at least bask in the spotlight for awhile).

Award-winning scientist lauded as a great mom.

Writing a fair-minded obituary isn’t rocket science, but the New York Times botched it anyway.

Yvonne Brill died the other day at 88. She was, in fact, a world-class rocket scientist.

So what did the newspaper lead with?

“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,’ her son Matthew said.”

Apology Accepted

Kelley Praises Petraeus's Return

Welcomes an apology from the military 'icon.'

In my discussions with Jill Kelley, I always had the impression that she felt as badly for David Petraeus and John Allen as she did over the scandal's impact on her life in Tampa. 

Not that what happened to either man was her fault. But she was friends with these generals and saw up close the damage to their careers. 

Allen, whose email correspondence with Kelley came under scrutiny, recently retired rather than face questions during his nomination to be NATO's top commander. And Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director in November over his affair with Paula Broadwell, edged back into the spotlight Tuesday with an apology-laden speech. 

So I thought it might be a good time to ask Kelley her reaction. 

She was upbeat, obviously relieved that Petraeus's time in purgatory may be coming to an end. 

"I'm very happy to see my friend General Petraeus back in the public light," Kelley told me. "He is an icon to our military, and an asset to our country and the free world. Nothing can reduce or will take away his tremendous accomplishments."

Beyond Kelley's admiration for Petraeus, she may feel that his reentry into public life could help her put the matter behind her as well. 

Said Kelley: "I do not believe the last chapter of General Petraeus has been written....and anticipate his best is yet to come."

Gen.  Petraeus

Former Commander of International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan; CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus shakes hands with biographer Paula Broadwell, co-author of "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus" on July 13, 2011. (ISAF)

Caustic Candor

Newt Gingrich: Lay Off Hillary!

The former presidential candidate talks to Howard Kurtz about Republicans in denial, the 2016 race, forging a positive message—and returning to the moon.

Newt Gingrich is talking to me about landing on the moon.

But he’s not being a space cadet; he is building an argument about how Republicans have to get in touch with reality by conjuring up positive plans. Gingrich believes the GOP made huge mistakes in last year’s campaign—he doesn’t exempt himself—by believing its own propaganda.

 163789278PM028

Newt Gingrich, former presidential candidate and speaker of the House, at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 16, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Pete Marovich/Getty)

“You have a combination of large donors and very clever consultants, neither of whom have any interest in building a healthy party, so they look for nasty ways to have more impact,” Gingrich says. “If it becomes how clever we can be in vilifying Hillary Clinton, that’s a party that will not win in 2016.”

That's the rage these days--but it's little more than scapegoating

As the Republican Party continues its orgy of finger-pointing, a new group is getting kicked around.

When the speakers at the CPAC gabfest weren’t taking obligatory shots at the media, many of them were training their fire on political consultants.

That’s right, it’s not bad candidates or lousy messages or alienating Hispanics. It’s the fault of the hired guns.

“Furlough the consultants,” Sarah Palin said.

You Betcha

Palin Poised for Fizzy Return

From soda to CPAC, the ex-governor is seeking the spotlight

Are we missing Sarah Palin yet?

Could it be time for a mini-comeback?

You betcha.

I know, we all just wrote her political obituary after Fox News made her a lowball offer and her million-dollar-a-year contract came to an end. Palin was old news, yesterday’s story, out of touch in Wasilla, we declared.

Exclusive

Matt Lauer Finally Talks

The ‘Today’ host tells Howard Kurtz that NBC mishandled Ann Curry’s ouster and describes how the network is rebuilding the show. Plus, his secret talks with Katie Couric.

One day last fall, Matt Lauer walked out of his 30 Rock office and took the elevator to the 51st floor to see Steve Burke, the chief executive of NBC Universal.

NUP_154696_0047.jpg

Matt Lauer appears on NBC News’ “Today” show on January 18. (Peter Kramer/NBC via Getty)

Lauer was feeling down. Week after week, he was getting pummeled by the press for the sinking fortunes of the Today show. The veteran host was being blamed for the messy departure of Ann Curry and the downward ratings spiral of what had been the iconic program in morning television.

“If you think the show’s better off without me, let me know, and I’ll get out of the way,” Burke recalls Lauer saying.

Fox News chief also rips Gingrich in new book.

Roger Ailes thinks President Obama is “lazy.”

And that Vice President Biden is “dumb as an ashtray.”

Though let’s be fair and balanced: Ailes says he has “a soft spot for Joe Biden. I like him. But he’s dumb as an ashtray.”

142770199LM016_The_Hollywoo

Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

Near-Majorities Backing Obama on Sequester

  They were all smiles in the Capitol as President Obama and Democratic leaders stood shoulder to shoulder with John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell for the unveiling of a Rosa Park statue.

  But the ceremony on Wednesday was a brief respite from an increasingly heated budget battle in which, if the polls are any indication, the Republicans are taking a beating. The automatic budget cuts that no one likes but no one seems able to avoid take effect Friday, so we are about to be knee-deep in sequester squabbling.

   In a Washington Post/ABC poll, 67 percent disapprove of the way that Republicans are handling federal spending. Obama’s 52 percent disapproval rating looks better only by comparison.

  But here’s the killer for the GOP: Fifty-one percent of Republicans deliver a negative verdict on their party’s handling of the spending issue.

About the Author

Author headshot

Howard Kurtz

Howard Kurtz is The Daily Beast and Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief, and writes the Spin Cycle blog. He also hosts CNN’s weekly media program Reliable Sources on Sundays at 11 a.m. ET. The longtime media reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, Kurtz is the author of five books.

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Martha Stewart Vs. The Law

Roughly a decade after the insider trading scandal that landed her in federal prison, the 'domestic diva' is back in court, this time sued by Macy's for breach of contract. Here's the condensed history of Martha Stewart's legal battles.

SEE MORE

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