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L.A. Times reporter apologizes after Mulkey rips column

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A Los Angeles Times writer apologized on Monday via social media for a roundly criticized weekend column that previewed the LSUUCLA NCAA women’s basketball tournament game.

On Saturday, LSU coach Kim Mulkey ripped columnist Ben Bolch for a piece that portrayed the matchup between the Bruins and Tigers as a “reckoning” between good versus evil, calling it “sexist,” “awful” and “wrong.”

During her postgame news conference following LSU’s 78-69 victory over UCLA, Mulkey was asked about her team embracing an “us against the world mentality” and whether she has told her players to “enjoy having the black hat on.”

In response, she said she was sent Friday’s column in the Times that described her team as “dirty debutantes” and UCLA as “milk and cookies.” In addition, the column portrayed the matchup as “inclusive versus divisive.”

On Monday, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, Bolch attached a screenshot of a document that was written in italics, saying, “It has taken me two days to write this apology because I wanted to be as thoughtful as possible in my response to the situation I have created. These are words I have not been asked to write by anyone at my paper, but they need to be expressed so that I can own up to my mistake.

“Words matter. As a journalist, no one should know this more than me. Yet I have failed miserably in my choice of words. In my column previewing the LSU-UCLA women’s basketball game, I tried to be clever in my phrasing about one team’s attitude, using alliteration while not understanding the deeply offensive connotation or associations. I also used metaphors that were not appropriate.”

In the third paragraph, Bolch continued on with the actual verbiage of an apology: “I sincerely apologize to the LSU and UCLA basketball teams and to our readers.”

On Saturday, Mulkey, whose team played in the Elite Eight on Monday night, added that “you can criticize coaches all you want. That’s our business. You can come at us and say you’re the worst coach in America. I hate you, I hate everything about you. We expect that. It comes with the territory.

“But the one thing I’m not going to let you do, I’m not going to let you attack young people, and there were some things in this commentary that you should be offended by as women. It was so sexist. It was good versus evil in that game today. Evil? Called us dirty debutantes? Are you kidding me?

“I’m not going to let you talk about 18- to 21-year-old kids in that tone.”

The Los Angeles Times removed some of the language, including its reference to “dirty debutantes,” later Saturday, saying in a statement that “it did not meet Times editorial standards.”

“I had someone say the L.A. Times updated, rewrote, did something,” Mulkey said on Sunday, a practice day for the Tigers. “That was the extent of it. So I’m not sure what the rewrite was. I’m not sure if it was an apology. I’m not sure of any of that. But personally no one has reached out to me, nor do I require that. I don’t need all that. I just like to recognize when I feel something was done inappropriately to young people that I get to coach.”

She said that in her view, the Los Angeles Times story crossed a line.

“I’m not going to let sexism continue,” Mulkey said. “And if you don’t think that’s sexism, then you’re in denial. How dare people attack kids like that. You don’t have to like the way we play. You don’t have to like the way we trash-talk. You don’t have to like any of that. We’re good with that.

“But I can’t sit up here as a mother and a grandmother and a leader of young people and allow somebody to say that. Because guys, that’s wrong. I know sexism when I see it and I read it. That was awful.”

Earlier on Saturday, a long-anticipated Washington Post profile on Mulkey was published, an article she described as a “hit piece” in a statement she made last week anticipating its publication. Mulkey has repeatedly said she is not afraid to speak out against what she sees as wrong.

Later Monday, Iowa defeated LSU, 94-87, in the Elite 8, ending the Tigers’ season.





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