House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) yesterday said he regrets "any intemperate or unjustified" remarks contained in a series of critical letters written by his newly hired chief press officer to several national news organizations.
In a statement released by his chief of staff, Wright said he had not reviewed the letters before they were mailed to senior editors and executives of several newspapers and magazines. The letters were highly critical of the coverage of Wright, and in one case accused two Los Angeles Times writers of "possibly" plagiarizing material.
The letters were written by George Mair, who Wright said was hired in December "to assist me in correcting certain inaccuracies and misimpressions which had continued to crop up in news stories over the past year."
"Regrettably, I did not see George's letters before they were mailed," said Wright in the statement. "If I had, I'm sure I would, in at least some cases, have tempered their tone and content . . . ."
As Wright's office released the statement, another letter was brought to light that Mair sent last week to syndicated columnists Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta. That letter was critical of a recent column, and closed with the observation that "The Church of the Latter Day Saints must be particularly pleased."
Both Anderson and Van Atta are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.