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WRIGHT CLAIMS HE WAS WRONGED BY NEWS JOURNAL REPORTER
Published May 15, 1995
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).