He was replaced the next day by Arthur Browne, who had been editorial page editor.
Both Gottlieb and management at the tabloid denied published reports speculating the managing editor had been pushed out.
"I think that's inaccurate," Gottlieb said in a telephone interview. "We had talks that went over more than a month in which they were trying to get me to stay."
Gottlieb said he was proud of his tenure, which he also described as "an incredibly intense" experience.
"I wish nothing but the best for the paper," he said. "I think we brought it back to a real level that few people would have expected. I know there are good people still there who . . . will help it grow more."
News editor in chief Martin Dunn praised Gottlieb for helping to "steer the paper through a very difficult time.
"His contribution, especially helping the younger members of our staff, will always be appreciated," Dunn said.
Browne, the new managing editor, is a Daily News veteran who began as a copy boy and was metropolitan editor when real estate magnate Mortimer Zuckerman bought the foundering tabloid in January 1993. Browne, 44, was made editorial page editor at that time.
Michael Goodwin, who had been deputy editorial page editor, was promoted to replace Browne.
By: Mark Fitzgerald MARTIN GOTTLIEB RESIGNED Feb. 13 after 18 months as managing editor of the New York Daily News.