SBD/15/Sports Media

WRIGHT CLAIMS HE WAS WRONGED BY NEWS JOURNAL REPORTER

     CBS golf analyst Ben Wright was back in the booth at the
McDonald's LPGA Championship after denying that he had made
statements attributed to him in Friday's Wilmington News Journal
that lesbianism has hurt the LPGA's image and that women's
"boobs" affect their swing.  CBS officials met with Wright on
Friday, and, according to Jack Craig of the BOSTON GLOBE, "the
network accepted Wright's word on the matter and also criticized
the newspaper."  CBS Sports President David Kenin defended Wright
saying that he "has been done a grave injustice."  The News
Journal stands by its story (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/14).  Kenin noted
that he had asked the paper for "support materials," but was
refused, and said that others present have supported Wright's
version of the events (Maryann Hudson, L.A. TIMES, 5/14).
     WRIGHT'S STATEMENT:  Wright released a two-page statement
recounting the interview with reporter Valerie Helmbreck.  He
explains that he recounted a story by JoAnne Carner, in which she
joked about breasts being the main difference between herself and
male golfers.  Wright:  "At no time did I ever use the word
boobs."  Wright adds that it was Helmbreck, not he, who used the
terms "butch" and "not going to fly" concerning sponsors'
attitudes towards lesbianism and the LPGA.  Wright:  "I never
said anything to the effect that lesbians in women's golf are
hurting the sport or that lesbians were bad for the image of the
game" (USA TODAY, 5/15).  During Saturday's broadcast, Wright
again called the remarks "totally untrue."  Wright:  "Much has
been said and written about these disparaging comments attributed
to me which are not only totally inaccurate, but extremely
distasteful.  It's a pity these remarks have detracted from the
focus of the McDonald's LPGA Championship which has perennially
raised so many millions of dollars for needy children"
("McDonald's Championship," CBS, 5/13).
     DID HE SAY IT?  Skip Bayless: "I think he said it and I
think there is a grain of truth in what he was saying, the first
part of it."  Mike Lupica:  "CBS can't ever quite get this thing
right. ... I think it is admirable that you stand by your guy,
but they did it gracelessly.  I don't think anyone believes this
feature writer for the Wilmington paper went to the golf course
that day and said, 'OK, which one of CBS' golf announcers do I
want to sandbag and try to make national headlines with.'  That's
preposterous" ("Sports Reporters," ESPN, 5/14).  USA TODAY's Mike
Heistand writes, "CBS had better be right about Wright, or it is
going to richly deserve the backlash of criticism that would
blindside the network" (USA TODAY, 5/15).  In San Francisco,
Scott Ostler writes that CBS "launched an in-depth investigation,
which consisted of asking Wright if he said that stuff" (SAN
FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/15).
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