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Why Was the Tiger Woods Speech Treated Like a Presidential Address?

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 19th 2010 12:41PM
Tiger Woods speechIf you're looking for analysis of the Great Tiger Woods Apology of 2010, you've come to the wrong place. Our friends at TMZ, PopEater, and Fanhouse will have it all broken down from a personality, gossip, and sports perspective. No, what I'm here to talk about is the TV aspect of the coverage, and all I have to say about it is... it's troubling.

Why? Think about what happened this morning: all four networks interrupted their regular programming to show the speech. There was pre- and post-speech analysis from sports reporters as well as the news folks. There was a podium and a blue curtain. If you didn't know that Tiger Woods was about to speak, you might have thought that President Obama was about to step out and address the nation. Instead, we got Tiger talking over and over about how he's failed himself, his wife, his friends and his family.

I'm not sure what made me feel dirtier: the fact that the networks made it seem like a presidential address, or that I was actually watching it. Video and more after the jump.

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NBC and ABC both utilized their morning anchors --Matt Lauer on NBC, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos on ABC -- but CBS gave the press conference the full treatment, complete with Katie Couric. But if you step back and look at the situation for a second, it doesn't seem like this speech should have gotten this treatment:

-- The speech didn't involve economic policy or war or anything that was directly related to people's lives. It was a sports figure -- albeit a superstar -- apologizing for sleeping with a series of loose, big-chested women while still married. At least when Bill Clinton had his Monica mea culpa, he was doing so as President.

-- It wasn't a press conference. None of the reporters were allowed to ask questions. In fact, Tiger told the nation that any questions about his marriage or his affairs won't be answered, as it'll be kept between he and his wife Elin. Why were the reporters even there in the first place? Tiger got to control the narrative and what information would be put out there. What happened to the days when news organizations told public figures to go pound salt in those cases?

-- He got to admonish the news media with impunity. He was able to criticize the media for stalking his family and for reporting on possible domestic violence in his marriage and his possible use of PEDs. However, because he wasn't taking questions, he didn't have to undergo the scrutiny of follow-up questions to that part of the speech.

-- It fails the tabloid test. Coverage of this story in the mainstream media has gotten extremely close to tabloid territory, as one floozy after another has come forward to talk about their trysts with Tiger. Instead of covering this as a news story, they've delved into as much speculation and "anonymous source" reporting as the tabloids. I know there's a ton of competition to break stories of this nature, and the folks at the networks are tired of losing out to the TMZs and Enquirers of the world. But, put any other public figure short of John Edwards in Tiger's place, and this story would have died long ago.

For all these reasons, this speech should have been relegated to cable. For the broadcast networks to breathlessly cover this the way they did makes me worry about what's going to pass for news in the near future.

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GerryofNorVA

Declaw this Tiger

I didn't watch it, and believe me it took some effort to AVOID it, and I didn't click on ANY of the post-event reporting either. However, like you, I was dismayed by all the POSITIVE attention this fraudulent philanderer has gotten.

Why hasn't he lost everything ?! He's got no integrity or character and yet he's still admired, what, for a talent he's honed since he was born ?! These very public role models must be cut down to size when they fail in their moral obligations or else we're just a nation of prostituted celebrity, and that's just one more reason we DON'T NEED for enemy nations to hate us.

February 21 2010 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
george

I'm afraid we all looked kind of stupid watching a boy trying to act like a man.

February 21 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

The phrase "relegated to cable" made me chuckle.

TV Squad, of all places, should know that the best TV programming is on cable. Maybe cable "relegated" it to the networks.

Besides, why should networks be denied the viewers?

February 21 2010 at 8:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scot

Why was it treated like a presidential address? Simple...the media gets these two guys mixed up all the time. ;-)

February 19 2010 at 10:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mack Swift

We had American citizen commit an act of suicidal terrorism by crashing a plane into an IRS building the other day.

And this Tiger Woods garbage is what preempts it???

February 19 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
charles melrose III

I agree with everything you write with one exception--why even cable? At year end Tiger's deal will win, hands down, the "Most Overreported" award for 2010. Unlike baseball steroids--also way overreported--this story doesn't even have a hint of a link to the athlete's on the field performance. All news outlets apparently are eager to pander to the curiosity of viewers and decline to exercise their choice to refrain from providing a platform for events that not long ago would never achieve wide awareness.

February 19 2010 at 2:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Professor Zed

The only way this Tiger ordeal affected me over these past couple of months, is that this press conference today interrupted my viewing of "The Price Is Right". All of this was between him and his wife, his kids and I suppose, to those sponsors who hired him to pitch their products. Even that should have been kept out of the press spotlight. I couldn't care any less about this situation than I do, because I don't care at all. Let him and his wife and family work things out - the way hundreds of thousands of other families in this same situation do every day. As for CBS's coverage of this - Katie Couric looked downright silly having to address this non-issue. Can the networks get back to something more serious now? Like PLINKO ! ! !

February 19 2010 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jean frank

I didn't watch the coverage, but I have to agree with your sentiment. No matter if infidelity is between the Haves or the HaveNots, the issue should always, in my opinion, be between the couple. Why should it ever be anyones business? As long as there is no one underage involved (or force utilized), then why is it public fare? And if ones job hinges upon your marriage and your fidelity, I think there would be alot of America without work over that one concern.

February 19 2010 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carl

The tiger wood's apology is cheap to cover tabloid news - which is all the major networks are good for mostly. Tiger needs his sponsor money and he won't get it if doesn't get in front of cameras and ball like a sissy boy.

February 19 2010 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carl's comment
MJ

The term is "Bawl". To "Ball" has another..um..indelicate meaning that Tiger no doubt would prefer not to use today.

February 19 2010 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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