After a year of stoic, matter-of-fact responses to the swirl of embarrassing stories about his personal life, Steve Garvey changed his tone last week.
"I'm sick and tired of it, and I'm not going to take it anymore," Garvey told his XTRA-AM (690) audience Thursday morning.
Garvey used his morning show to lash out at a recent article in Sports Illustrated, which detailed his romantic life, providing a time line of the day-to-day intricacies of his overlapping relationships. It painted a picture of Garvey as "a divorced husband, an unloved father, an unadmired teammate, a sinning Christian, a lying man of honor, a failed businessman, a control freak out of control."
According to the article, Garvey owes the government more than $500,000 in back taxes and his landlord another $172,000, and, perhaps most damaging, it questioned the effectiveness, if not the propriety, of charity fund raising handled by the tax-exempt Steve Garvey Foundation.
Last Wednesday, a week after the article hit the stands, Garvey attacked it in an interview with KFMB-TV (Channel 8) and said he would discuss "journalism ethics" on his radio show the next morning.
Sure enough, Thursday morning, Garvey attacked the article and its author, Rick Reilly.
In an "interview" with his on-air partner, Jimmy (The Saint) Christopher, Garvey labeled the story a "blatant injustice" and a "rape of my dignity and that of my family."
Garvey said the government had disallowed a few of his tax shelters but that he is paying his taxes. He denied that he owed the landlord money, and said Reilly "misread" the tax documents.
As he has done with other negative articles, Garvey chose to attack the article by attacking the author. He said he agreed to do the article on the presumption that it was going to be about how someone "bounces back" from problems.
"Reilly is not a journalist," Garvey said. "He can't write very well. He has to use a critiquing style."
In response to references to his children in the article--it quoted one of his daughter's testimony during a court case as saying she didn't want to see her father and didn't love him--Garvey described Reilly as a "man who has children, but he isn't a man who understands what a father is all about."
Garvey more than once described Reilly as "malicious" and the story as a "blatant attack," but he told Channel 8 the night before that he has no plans to pursue any legal recourse.
"We stand by our story," said SI spokesman Roger Jackson. "The story went through the same vigorous fact-checking procedures as all Sports Illustrated stories."
Garvey, unavailable for comment Friday, has always been more than willing to publicly discuss his indiscretions, but he rarely has replied with such venom. He spoke in his usual controlled, clipped tone Thursday morning, but he was clearly angry.
Before going on the air, he had discussed his response with Noble Broadcasting President John Lynch, owner of XTRA.
"I hope he does more of that," Lynch said. "He can't ignore what has happened in his life. If he's going to be a credible morning drive personality, he's got to take it head-on. I absolutely encourage it."
Apparently Garvey is encouraged. He concluded his on-air statements by saying, "We are going to keep watch here on Garvey and Co. for irresponsible journalism."
After 10 years with KNSD-TV (Channel 39), reporter Cathy Clark was fired Friday night. According to sources at the station, Clark had been out of favor since Gillett Communications took over the station more than a year ago, and few were surprised by Clark's sudden departure.
News Director Don Shafer, reached late Friday, refused to comment, and Clark was unavailable.
Clark may not have the baby-doll looks of some TV personalities or the sensational style of others, but she was respected for her steady reporting style. In an interview three weeks ago, she had expressed her unhappiness. She had received few key assignments recently. Most noticeably, she was left off the station's team that went to San Francisco to cover the earthquake.
In other Channel 39 news, Steve Corman, well-respected producer of "Third Thursday," has resigned to take the job of executive producer with the Sports Channel in Chicago. Corman spent 20 years working in Chicago before joining Channel 39 three years ago. Associate Producer Kurt Snider has been promoted to executive producer.
A basic rule of television: Never call your audience stupid. Think it perhaps, but never say it. For most, it's not a difficult rule to follow. But Ted Leitner is not your average television personality. The Channel 8 sportscaster has built his career tweaking nerves, and he was at it again last week.