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).