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"DATELINE" REVISITS BEN WRIGHT-LPGA CONTROVERSY TONIGHT
Published May 10, 1996
Tonight, NBC's "Dateline" examines the comments made by CBS golf analyst Ben Wright about lesbianism on the LPGA Tour -- which eventually led to Wright's suspension from the network -- with a focus on the ensuing "eight-month battle" between CBS and Wilmington (DE) News Journal reporter Valerie Helmbreck. The piece also examines Wright's status and his battle with alcoholism (NBC). Noting that the piece accuses CBS of trying to "discredit" and "smear" Helmbreck, CBS execs responded with charges of unfairness. CBS Sports Dir of Communications LeslieAnne Wade: "We applaud NBC for taking valuable news time to attack a direct competitor." CBS Senior VP of Communications Gil Schwartz chalked it up to sweeps week and said the story has "no new news value." But NBC News VP David Corvo noted it is the first time Helmbreck has spoken on TV and that it is the one-year anniversary. He called it a "big story." CBS Sports President David Kenin: "This story has been done" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 5/10). In Baltimore, Milton Kent calls NBC "the worst of vultures" for attacking CBS and refers to the piece as "lurid and sensational" (Baltimore SUN, 5/10).