U.S. association acts to bar Washington Post reporter Brennan shows bias in coverage, group says

Figure Skating

April 17, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Figure Skating Association announced yesterday that it plans to prevent a reporter from covering USFSA-sanctioned events.

The reporter, Christine Brennan of the Washington Post, is the author of the recently published book, "Inside Edge," a behind-the-scenes look at the skating world.

USFSA officials sent a letter Sunday to George Solomon, the Post's assistant managing editor/sports, complaining about what it perceived as biased reporting by Brennan.

"It is our opinion that Ms. Christine Brennan no longer is reporting figure skating on an impartial basis, and has interjected her personal opinions into her coverage of the sport, whether it be for additional sales of her book or her notion that she is the protector of the sport," the letter from USFSA officials said.

Though the wording was vague -- the USFSA said it would limit Brennan's ability to cover future events "by not affording media services normally offered to members of the media" -- the message was clear: The Post would be denied access if Brennan were assigned to the event.

Brennan's book delves into several controversial issues in figure skating, among them judging of performances, parental involvement, homosexuality and AIDS-related deaths in the skating world.

"I interviewed [USFSA president] Morry Stillwell and [executive director] Jerry Lace and acknowledged them in the book," Brennan said yesterday. "I saw them and said brief hellos to them at both the U.S. Skating Championships [in January] and last month at the worlds in Edmonton. That's why this is so strange."

Said Stillwell: "The book has nothing to do with it. I think the problem was what happened after the book. The problem was more with her traveling around the country promoting the book. There were things that were written and said that were totally wrong. She crossed over the line from objective reporting to opinion and didn't say it was opinion."

Mike Moran, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said that he hoped the two sides could reach an amicable solution. But it was apparent that Moran was not pleased with the USFSA's action. The USOC is in charge of accreditation for the Olympics and oversees the USFSA for other Olympic-related events, such as the trials.

"This kind of activity is not productive," said Moran. "There have been so many of these in the past, and they've all been self-defeating. . . . In America, it's not the way to deal with the press."

Pub Date: 4/17/96

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