The Buzz

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New York tabloids love to needle each other. But writers turning on their own team? New York Post gossip columnist Neal Travis wrote that Mets manager Bobby Valentine said baseball is ready for an openly gay player and hinted a Met-perhaps Mike Piazza-was about to be outed. Then the Daily News writes Piazza, with $3 million annually in endorsements from marketers such as MCI, Claritin and Nerf, had to come out saying he wasn't gay. The Post`s Wallace Matthews blasted Travis in a column for printing a "scurrilous rumor," calling it "abhorrent" journalism. When the Post didn't run it, Matthews posted it online and accused the paper of having "no integrity." The Post, which intended to run an edited version, said it fired him. Matthews, however, said he quit.

Connie Chung's new show on CNN launches June 24, the first in its NYC street-side studio. Later, MSNBC resuscitates Phil Donahue. Both come in the 8 p.m. slot dominated by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. CNN and MSNBC feel they can outfox Fox. CNN will have a news focus and have "well-known personalities deliver it," says CNN's ad sales chief Larry Goodman. MSNBC will have a talk foil to O'Reilly. "I think it's what the audience is demanding," says net prez Erik Sorenson. A Fox rep said it's all just a "battle for second place."

contributing: Rich Thomaselli

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