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WAS WRIGHT WRONGED? MEDIA BACKLASH HEADS REPORTER'S WAY
Published May 16, 1995
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).