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Redskins owner apologizes over TV dispute involving cheerleader
Edick, 28, is from the Asheville, N.C., area. He was scheduled to return from Iraq in January but volunteered to extend his tour in Afghanistan. When a military rule barred him from staying in that war zone longer, he got in touch with WLOS, the ABC affiliate in Asheville, which asked if he could stage the reunion with his wife back home in North Carolina.
When that proved logistically impossible, the station asked WJLA to send a crew to the couple's reunion in Washington and provide the tape, a common practice among affiliates -- and a winning story for WJLA as well, because it involved the city's football franchise.
When reached for comment, Bryan Luhn, assistant news director at WLOS, said he suggested alternatives to the team after learning that it would cooperate only with WRC. The Redskins became broadcast partners last year with WRC, which carries exhibition games and pre- and postgame segments.
Luhn said he asked Stephanie Jojokian, the cheerleaders' director, whether WJLA could interview Kristin Edick and her husband afterward, outside the stadium or even at a restaurant.
"She could do that, but she'll no longer be a Redskins cheerleader," Luhn recalls Jojokian saying. "She is contractually obligated to the Redskins."
Luhn said he was "kind of stunned by that. You'd really fire a cheerleader who's getting ready to see her husband after a year and a half in Iraq over media access? . . . How can they not want coverage for this story? It's a great story. It's free publicity."
The Redskins' Donovan said he spoke to Jojokian and that "she told me this was absolutely not true. I would not have permitted that to happen."
Edick, caught in the middle, said he felt that WJLA reporter Jay Korff "was being rude" as the dispute escalated. "I felt the guy at Channel 7 was asking me to do things I wasn't comfortable with. He wanted me to tell the Redskins that I wasn't going to surprise my wife unless the Redskins let them cover the story."
Korff said that was untrue and that their conversations were cordial. He recalled telling Edick that the Redskins would not let his station cover the reunion "because we're not their broadcast partners, we're not their buddies. They're basically stealing this story from us."
At that point, Korff said, Edick asked if there was anything he could do to help. "Give them a call and tell them you think this is unfair and we should be in on it," he recalls telling the lieutenant.
The Redskins barred WJLA's crew from entering the stadium Thursday night. "That was not a good decision," Donovan said.
At that point, said WJLA's Lord, a Vietnam War veteran who was concerned that the Marine was being unduly pressured, "we decided it was time to punt."
WRC made the footage available to the Asheville station the next day but with one key condition: that the tape not be fed back to WJLA. This, of course, kept its Washington rival off the playing field.