CBS PULLS PLUG ON WRIGHT; IS IT PERMANENT OR ONLY TEMPORARY?
CBS Sports President David Kenin issued a statement
yesterday announcing that golf analyst Ben Wright will not be
part of CBS' golf broadcast team when coverage begins next month.
Kenin acknowledged the "continuing controversy" over comments
attributed to Wright "has detracted" from CBS' golf coverage and
he said "there are no plans for Wright's return" (CBS Sports).
In a statement issued by Wright's agent, RLR Associates of New
York, Wright apologized to CBS, the LPGA and Wilmington News-
Journal reporter Valerie Helmbreck. Wright: "Despite the fact
that I have been widely misquoted, there is no doubt that I have
been guilty of making some insensitive remarks" (WASHINGTON POST,
MEDIA REAX: In New York, Richard Sandomir calls it a "paid
suspension" covering the length of his four-year contract with
CBS -- reportedly worth around $1M. The "fact that he was not
fired holds out a thin, but unlikely possibility of
reinstatement." Sandomir notes there are "few suitors" at other
networks, while The Golf Channel may consider him in the future
(N.Y. TIMES, 1/10). A source "familiar" with Wright's contract
told WASHINGTON POST that it was "remotely possible Wright could
be put back on golf after a year." A CBS source said honoring
the contract was "a better alternative than a costly and
prolonged lawsuit" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 1/10).
ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "As firings go, we should all be so
lucky" ("SportsCenter," 1/9). NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay notes one
CBS Sports source said "something had to be done. There were
still no grounds for firing him. But things were never quieting
down, it got to be too much" (NEWSDAY, 1/10). USA TODAY's
Michael Hiestand notes CBS' statement offered "ambiguity and
evasiveness to encourage speculation" on Wright's possible return
(USA TODAY, 1/10). In Atlanta, Prentis Rogers writes CBS is
"trying to wash its hands of the controversy without totally
removing the source of the controversy" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
1/10). Phil Mushnick notes, "Interestingly, Wright remains under
contract." But he adds "no one should hold his or her breath"
for Wright's return (N.Y. POST, 1/10). In Chicago, Steve Nidetz
writes Wright is off the air "indefinitely. For Now" (CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 1/10). In Philadelphia, Diane Pucin writes "fine,
upstanding CBS" will continue to pay Wright for four more years
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/10). Columnist George Vecsey notes CBS
"needed to get rid of the distraction," while adding "it is worth
noting how long it took" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10). Kyle Smith of the
N.Y. POST notes "the announcement was not only slow to come, but
a total reversal of the network's staunch defense" of Wright
(N.Y. POST, 1/10). In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes CBS "did the
right thing" -- even if it was late (Baltimore SUN, 1/10).
OTHER REAX: LPGA Commissioner Jim Ritts said CBS'
announcement has "been too long in coming. But our patience has
been rewarded" (USA TODAY, 1/10). Ritts told George Vecsey of
the N.Y. TIMES that Wright "will no longer be a distraction" and
said the continued controversy had not affected tour sponsorships
(N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).