CNN media critic and Daily Beast Washington bureau chief Howard Kurtz has come under fire for allegedly working to quash a story at the Daily Beast that would have outed CNN anchor Anderson Cooper as gay. But Kurtz says he was only adhering to his personal and professional protocol against outing public figures.
Kate Arthur, a former editor at The Daily Beast, told Politico that when Kurtz got wind of a Beast story that would have outed Cooper in 2011 — prior to the anchor's self-outing in July 2012 — Kurtz sent an email to editorial chiefs and "interferred with a story."
Arthur contends that since Kurtz works at CNN, hosting the weekly media program Reliable Sources, his interference in a Beast story about CNN anchor Cooper qualifies as a conflict of interest.
"There should be a Reliable Sources segment about it," Arthur told Politico. "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."
Kurtz acknowledged sending the email in question, but maintains that he had no control over the Beast's editorial decisions, calling the accusation "offensive and absurd."
"My position, publicly and privately, has always been the same: I don't out people and responsible news organizations shouldn't out people," wrote Kurtz in an email to Politico. "That Anderson Cooper was gay was, before he publicly acknowledged it, the biggest open secret in the history of journalism," Kurtz continued. "I still think he should get to decide if and when he wants to talk about his sexuality. This has nothing to do with my working at CNN; I have made the same argument about others in the media and politics who are widely known to be gay and have not chosen to talk about it. Unless there is some investigation or public action that makes it a story, outing people is gossip dressed up as news."