Sportswomen Wanted

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That kind of thinking might not occur to Post sportswriter Adam Schefter, who continues to cover the Broncos even though he's co-written books with star running back Terrell Davis and coach Mike Shanahan (see "Ball Carriers," September 16). In a November 3 article, "Broncos Starting to Feel the Money Pinch: Salary Cap Hardship to Force Major Changes," Schefter quoted from the Shanahan tome Think Like a Champion: Building Success One Victory at a Time without mentioning his involvement in it. Obviously, readers should consider the source.

When Diane Carman wrote "Payoffs: A Plague in Politics," a column published in the October 28 Post, she wanted readers to take a fresh look at Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, whom she suggests may have been doing political favors when he attached a rider to an appropriations bill that directly benefited Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, whose political action committee donated $5,000 to his campaign last year. But she stirred up more ire than she bargained for when she underlined her view of Campbell with the line "A pimp's a pimp, after all, even if he looks good in a headdress." Almost immediately, an aide on Campbell's staff called the Post to complain that this characterization was racist. Carman responded by mentioning the accusation in her October 30 column. But while she wrote that she deeply regrets "whenever my message is misinterpreted," she did not apologize; her conclusion was, "My conscience is clear."

That wasn't nearly enough contrition for David Cournoyer, director of public education for the American Indian College Fund. After the October 30 piece, he phoned new Post editor Glenn Guzzo, and when Guzzo's response didn't satisfy him, he flew into action, issuing a November 3 press release demanding an apology from the Post for Carman's column. "This is a perfect example of ignorance," Cournoyer says. "Would they ever call Mayor Webb a pimp? Not in a million years. But they seem to think, well, there's only a couple of Indians around here; no one will notice. But they're wrong -- and I think if Diane Carman has any honor but is unwilling to apologize, she should consider quitting and finding another line of work. Because what she wrote is absolutely offensive to an entire group of people."

Guzzo, whose paper ran six letters about the Carman-Campbell matter on November 8 (including one from Cournoyer), doesn't defend the line in question. "I would not have written it if it had been me," he allows. He also reveals that he and Carman have had "more than one conversation about this, and we'll continue to talk about it," adding, "Personally, I would apologize to anyone who felt offended, because somehow I hadn't been alert enough, sensitive enough, knowledgeable enough to realize that would be the effect." Nevertheless, he feels he should leave the decision of whether to apologize to Carman, who, it turns out, has no interest in doing so.

"I am extremely sensitive to the fact that my words have power beyond what I intend," Carman says, "and my sensitivity has been increased by this experience. But to apologize would suggest that there was some intent on my part to manipulate the public's opinion negatively about Indians, and that was not my intent in any way. This is a dangerous area to get into, because a charge of racism is impossible to defend yourself against. So I just have to fall back on knowing in my heart what was there and what I intended, and I don't feel I should have to apologize for that."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts