SBD/23/Sports Media

BILLY PACKER GIVES NEW MEANING TO MARCH MADNESS IN DIATRIBE

          CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer criticized
     CBS's "60 Minutes" for its recent segments on college
     basketball, with much of his remarks relating to Mike
     Wallace's examination of the Frenso State program which
     aired March 15.  Packer told Larry Stewart of the L.A.
     TIMES: "'60 Minutes' is a cancer in our organization, and
     you can quote me on that.  I don't care how much money they
     bring in. ... They've done four college basketball stories
     around NCAA tournament time, and they always look for the
     most negative thing they can find.  They go in with a
     preconceived plan and stay on the story until they get what
     they want.  About 99% of college basketball is positive, and
     they look for the 1% that is negative.  I'll tell you, I
     wouldn't want to find them on my team in a foxhole." 
     Packer: "[T]hey spent three days on a story that bastardized
     the University of Louisville and Denny Crum and they had
     Leslie Stahl do a story on sneakers.  Leslie Stahl wouldn't
     know a sneaker if she saw one" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20).
          WALLACE'S RESPONSE: CBS's Mike Wallace responded to
     Packer's comments: "Although I've never met him, I'm sure
     Billy Packer is a fine fellow. ... I believe our report on
     the Bulldogs was a fair one."  As for Frenso State coach
     Jerry Tarkanian, Wallace said, "I actually like the man, and
     he is accurate when he says I told him he wouldn't be
     disappointed in the piece.  But that was before we got very
     deep into the story.  As it developed, I mean, what could we
     do?" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20).  In L.A., columnist Tim Kawakami
     called Packer's comments "sadly revealing -- about Packer
     and CBS. ... '60 Minutes' is the best hour of journalistic
     story-telling ... on TV.  Granted, it is sometimes naive
     when it reports on sports issues, but it is always brave and
     the reporting is usually indefatigable" (L.A. TIMES, 3/21).

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