RealClearPolitics Media Watch

« Rounding Up All The Likely Suspects | Media Watch Home Page | Health Care Coverage: Tastes Great, Less Filling »

ESPN, Golf Channel Play Sorry Game

Just as I thought it was safe to grab some ice (and gin) to tend to the whiplash I sustained going back and forth all weekend between the NCAA basketball tournament and the March Madness that lead to the historic vote on health care, along came everybody's favorite news-maker, Tiger Woods, to make no news at all.

Ever since Woods' notorious private life became one of the biggest casualties of the Thanksgiving-night wreck at the end of his posh Orlando driveway, everything and anything resembling the world's media have been after the golfer for explanations and answers.

As the press futilely tried to make contact with Woods, it simultaneously began linking him to all manner of un-idol-like behavior, including multiple counts of adultery, drug use -- even physical abuse ...

It became a media firestorm of the highest degree, and only intensified as Tiger remained hidden and silent.

After a while Woods came around to the fact that the storm was not going to subside, so he hinted on his Web site that things hadn't gone well that Thanksgiving night.

But the thunder predictably persisted, so he came out of hiding and scheduled a speech last month at the PGA Tour headquarters to let everybody know how sorry he was for cheating on his wife.

He spared the cameras any and all details of his 'other' life, including the body count, and made good and sure not to allow a single question from the handful of media he allowed in attendance.

Some of the press were satisfied with Tiger's speech, though I think it's fair to say most definitely were not. In their eyes there was still a lot to answer for, not the least of which was why he lost control of his SUV that fateful night.

It's well worth considering that had somebody ended up in the path of that careening vehicle, Tiger's multiple counts of adultery would have been the least of his concerns right now.

So yesterday, pretty much out of the blue, we learned that Woods' camp had granted interviews with the Golf Channel and ESPN. And because there are always conditions when dealing with Woods, the interviews were to be strictly five minutes in length.

We also discovered that Woods was really only interested in reiterating what a creep he had been to his wife, his mother, and his fans.

After watching the interviews, which ran concurrently at 7:30 p.m. EST, I certainly don't feel any differently than I did 24 hours ago. In my opinion the guy needs to be a big boy and step up and address what happened that fateful Thanksgiving night. He no longer needs to convince me that he acted like a lowlife. I believe him.

So as I set out to type something that essentially said just that, I learned that CBS was also granted the opportunity to air Tiger's five-minute public-service announcement -- and turned it down.

CBS spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade said this: "Depending on the specifics, we are interested in an extended interview without any restrictions on CBS."

Bravo. Let me say that again with meaning, Bravo!

Now it could be (likely even) that CBS, which will be televising the final two rounds of next month's Masters and Tiger's return to golf, is doing some backroom haggling with Woods' handlers for something more exclusive or newsy from the golfer than these continued apologies.

Or, shockingly, it could be they aren't interested in being played like a bunch of fawning clowns.

That ESPN took the interview should surprise nobody, because news has never been a part of their name. They simply help market the athletes they in turn cover. It's a win-win game unless, of course, you are silly enough to crave objectivity.

ESPN sent Tom Rinaldi to do the interview and from what I've read the guy was allowed by Woods' camp to ask any question he pleased. He asked most of the likely ones, as did the Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman in her five-minute session with the golfer.

When asked about the circumstances surrounding his Thanksgiving crash, Woods reiterated they would remain private. Tiger answered what he wanted and deflected the rest. With only five minutes to play with, Tilghman and Rinaldi could only push so hard.

But, hey, thanks for playing along, you two, and just in case you have forgotten, Tiger's really, really, sorry.

Thankfully, CBS has nothing to be sorry for -- yet.

(Got a tip, a gripe, or some kudos? Send 'em along.)