The Town Hall President Tackles Race and Sports

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HOUSTON: Marking time in Clinton's second term: Another issue, another town hall meeting -- and this time, another cable news network. The President takes his National Dialogue on Race to the airwaves tonight on ESPN with 90 minutes of "Race & Sports -- Running in Place?" starting at 8 p.m. ET from the Wortham Center in Houston.

Let's say it was ESPN's preeminence in the TV sports biz -- or maybe just fair play -- that sent the White House to the other cable network, and not that horrific Gulf War II town hall that CNN hosted for the Cohen-Albright-Berger triumvirate this winter. In any case, the Prez himself will do the honors this time, with ESPN's Bob Ley moderating a panel that includes Jim Brown, University of Georgia AD Vince Dooley; Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, ESPN analyst Joe Morgan, San Diego Padres chairman John Moores, San Francisco 49ers president Carmen Policy and Georgetown University men's basketball coach John Thompson. St. John's basketball standout Felipe Lopez is the only Hispanic, a fact that had some groups already screaming "token" a day early.

The network says topics will include "minority hiring in sports, stereotypes in sports, and the targeting of inner-city children by sports merchandise manufacturers." Expect the accusations to fly from firebrands John Thompson and Vikings coach Green; Carmen Policy and Moores are the early bets to be on the defensive.