Kurtz 'excited to bring my independent brand of media criticism to Fox News' in move that raises plenty of eyebrows

Howard Kurtz, the veteran US media commentator, is decamping from his longtime home at CNN to join Fox News.

Kurtz has hosted Reliable Sources, CNN's Sunday media criticism program, for 15 years. On 1 July he will switch to hosting Fox News Watch, a competitor, Fox announced Thursday.

"I'm excited to be bringing my independent brand of media criticism to Fox News," Kurtz said in a statement that raised some social media eyebrows.

Our fave Howie quote: "I'm excited to be bringing my independent brand of media criticism to Fox News." http://t.co/aJXOXLfjF9

— HuffPost Media (@HuffPostMedia) June 20, 2013

"I want to thank CNN for giving me such a prime opportunity over the years and was tempted to continue, but the chance to create a revamped program and establish a strong online presence was too good to pass up," Kurtz added.

The move, which was first reported by Mediate, seems another sharp buck at a time of professional upheaval for Kurtz. Seven weeks ago a wildly off-target column about gay NBA player Jason Collins cost Kurtz his side job as a columnist for the Daily Beast.

The Kurtz-Beast separation came after months of whispering that Kurtz's loyalties were split between the Beast and another media site, the Daily Download. Kurtz appears in videos produced for the Daily Download and has said he advises the site but has no financial stake in it.

Fox executive Michael Clemente hailed Kurtz's imminent arrival. "Howie is the most accomplished media reporter in the country," Clemente said in a statement. "He's also a master of social media trends, information good and bad, and a veteran political reporter."

Kurtz wrote for the Washington Post for three decades before joining the Daily Beast in 2010. He left the Beast after criticizing a Sports Illustrated essay by Collins in which the basketball player became the first active male professional athlete in the United States to come out as gay. Questioning Collins' forthrightness, Kurtz said Collins had neglected to mention that he once had been engaged to marry a woman. But Collins had not.

To Kurtz's credit, he opened himself up unusually freely to criticism for the misstep, allowing himself to be aggressively cross-examined about his error on his own TV show.

Kurtz, who is not known for astringent criticism, has had some pillow fights with Fox News over the years. In a Daily Download video in April he said the network, in selecting an interviewer to question George W Bush about his new library, should not have picked former Bush spokesperson Dana Perino.

Also this year Kurtz said that popular Fox host Bill O'Reilly had "misspoken" about the drone killing program. O'Reilly subsequently had Kurtz on Fox News to argue with him. It didn't look like something that would escalate if the two bump into one another in the corridor.

© Guardian News and Media 2013