Feminist attorney Gloria Allred says that the Greater Los Angeles Press Club has unceremoniously dumped her from a spot at its annual Headliner’s Award Dinner out of fear she would embarrass another headliner--Cardinal Roger M. Mahony.
Allred, a vocal abortion rights advocate, said the Press Club extended--then abruptly retracted--an invitation for her to appear at the Nov. 13 affair with Mahony, who opposes abortion.
At a news conference at her Wilshire Boulevard law office Wednesday, Allred said she suspects that the Catholic Church may have pressured the club to drop her from the program.
“Unfortunately, the L.A. Press Club, through its action in this case, has demonstrated that it would rather kiss the cardinal’s ring than pay homage to the Constitution and the principles of a free press,” she said, adding that she will resign from her honorary membership in the club.
But Charles Hillinger, president of the club and a Los Angeles Times staff writer, said the whole flap is due to a miscommunication. Allred was never officially invited, he said. He also denied that there was any under-the-table deal with Catholic officials. “The church hasn’t been involved,” he said.
Hillinger said a Press Club official invited Allred without the blessings of the club’s executive committee. “It’s really a mess and I’m sorry that it happened,” he said.
Mahony spokesman Bill Rivera said the cardinal did not try to scuttle Allred’s participation, and in fact, would not have minded appearing with her.
“He’s a guest,” Rivera said, “and as a guest he just takes what he is given.”
Allred said she and Mahony spoke briefly last month during a radio program. “To my recollection, the exchange was a cordial one,” Allred said.
KNBC-TV’s Kelly Lange will be appearing in the slot that Allred contends was offered to her. Other honorees at the banquet are Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray and actor Rod Steiger.