Six days after Boston Globe editor Matthew V. Storin asked for Mike Barnicle's resignation, he acknowledged acting too "hastily" and instead suspended the columnist for two months without pay.

The stunning turnaround Tuesday, including an apology by Barnicle at a packed noontime meeting of the Globe staff, capped a week of controversy over the fate of the popular 25-year Metro columnist.Given the June 18 resignation of black columnist Patricia Smith after she admitted fabricating some characters and quotes in four 1998 columns, the Barnicle suspension may prove divisive inside and outside the Globe. Storin said Tuesday that "these two offenses were much different" but noted that some staffers are "still uncomfortable with whether there are double standards for . . . Mike Barnicle and Patricia Smith."

The Barnicle controversy began when his Aug. 2 column was found to contain eight jokes similar to those in comedian George Carlin's 1997 book, "BrainDroppings." Initially last Wednesday, Storin - accepting Barnicle's explanation that he had never read the book and got the jokes from friends - suspended him for a month without pay. But later that day, WCVB-Ch.5 in Boston ran a clip of Barnicle endorsing the book on the June 22 edition of "Chronicle."