DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Mike Gartner says he bowed out of writing a book about former Gannett Co. chief executive Allen H. Neuharth because it was no longer going to be an unauthorized biography.

Gartner, a former president of NBC News and former editor of The Des Moines Register, said he was approached to write the book about a year ago by Charles Overby, chief executive of the Freedom Forum, which Neuharth founded in 1991.

``They came to me and said they wanted me to write the real biography, an unauthorized biography,'' Gartner said. ``I said, `You mean warts and all?' and they said, `Yes.'''

Gartner said he spent nine months researching Neuharth, who also founded USA Today, with help from a researcher hired by the foundation. But Gartner said he then received a second call from Overby.

``He said, `I've made a horrible mistake. I asked for an unauthorized biography when what I want is an authorized biography,'' Gartner said. ``I told him, `Then I'm not your man,' and he said, `I know.'''

A telephone message left Monday at Overby's Arlington, Va., office was not immediately returned Monday.

Gartner won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize while co-owner and editor of The Tribune in Ames. He said he had been paid for the roughly 30 hours a week he spent on the book.

The Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press and free speech, succeeded the Gannett Foundation, established by Frank E. Gannett in 1935. The Freedom Forum operates the Newseum, an interactive news museum in Arlington.