SBD/16/Sports Media

WAS WRIGHT WRONGED? MEDIA BACKLASH HEADS REPORTER'S WAY

     In New York, Richard Sandomir writes that any assessment of
CBS golf analyst Ben Wright's alleged remarks concerning
lesbianism and the LPGA "must begin with this starting point:
only Wright and Valerie Helmbreck, the reporter, know exactly
what happened."  Sandomir poses two "key, unanswerable
questions":  Even if Wright had views on the subject, why discuss
them with an unfamiliar reporter; and, what is Helmbreck's
"incentive" to put "career-ending words in Wright's mouth"?
Comparing the key players, Sandomir writes, "CBS has all the
public leverage and can spin-doctor madly.  Helmbreck has little
public sway and no p.r. people.  Helmbreck has remained quiet
since Friday while Wright has aggressively defended himself,
trading on his public stores of dignity and respect.  Most
importantly, there is no tape recording.  Just Wright's words
against Helmbreck's notes.  So CBS felt comfortable in attacking.
This is far different than CBS's simpering stance in bowing to
pressure from the Masters to banish Gary McCord for the sin of
irreverence" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/16).  In Washington, columnist Tony
Kornheiser also raises the McCord issue.  He writes, "It's hard
to avoid the conclusion that at CBS it's okay to insult women.
But it's not okay to insult a golf course" (WASHINGTON POST,
5/16).  LPGA star Nancy Lopez, who joined Wright in the booth
during CBS's coverage this weekend, again defended her old
friend:  "The article made me sick to my stomach that it was even
written. ... I know Ben and I don't feel in my heart that he
would say those things" (Tonice Sgrignoli, N.Y. POST, 5/16).
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CBS, LPGA, Media, Viacom

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