- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A conservative columnist at an Idaho newspaper has quit his job after he says he was “schooled” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, who publicly debunked his story criticizing the famed astrophysicist.

Neal Larson, who writes for the Twin Falls Times-News and hosts “The Neal Larson Show” on Idaho’s KIDJ, wrote his final column Tuesday — six days after Mr. Tyson publicly shamed him for citing a satirical piece as legitimate news.

“The instant it was picked up nationally, I was checkmated,” Mr. Larson wrote. “I had no recourse, no comparable media platform at my disposal. It was as terrible and as helpless as you can imagine. Even more disappointing, a few people that I honestly thought were friends, shared online my unfortunate story with glee.”

Mr. Larson had relied on Clickhole, a satirical website from The Onion, for a story accusing Mr. Tyson of insulting a 9-year-old girl on Twitter, Raw Story reported.

Last week, Mr. Tyson issued a point-by-point rebuttal of Mr. Larson’s piece in an op-ed for the Times-News.

“You abrogated your journalistic integrity by not verifying what you read in somebody else’s article, before using it as a foundational pillar in yours,” Mr. Tyson wrote.

Mr. Larson on Tuesday called his reference to the Clickhole story a “stupid mistake” that he made “sloppily and irresponsibly.” He said he publicly and personally apologized to Mr. Tyson, and wrote praise for his “impressive and methodical destruction of my column.”

Mr. Larson said the controversy has brought on an onslaught of criticism, forcing him to change the privacy settings on his social media accounts.

“For those in the national spotlight, this is probably old hat, but I wasn’t equipped to handle the influx, logistically or emotionally. If anyone had sent a kind word or more gentle and constructive criticism, I apologize because I probably missed it in the onslaught of hate,” Mr. Larson wrote.

“To those who have regularly read my column, agreed, and enjoyed it, thank you,” he continued. “To those who read it and thoughtfully disagreed, thank you even more for your measured civility. To those who despise me, feel I am terrible and let me know it without reservation, wishing this newspaper would stop carrying my column, I have good news for you. As you can tell by now, I’m pulling the plug.

“In my field I write to persuade. But for me, right now, I’m conceding defeat to a machine that is horrifyingly efficient in destroying people who make a thoughtless, foolish mistake. Perhaps I’d have the mettle to power through this had there not been so much personal collateral damage.”

Mr. Larson will continue broadcasting his radio show, Raw Story reported.

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