Home > Uncategorized > Bad Eldrick, Bad

Bad Eldrick, Bad

-first posted at RTDNA.org on February 23, 2010

Henceforth I will always refer to the golfer most of you know as “Tiger” as Eldrick.

Why?  Well, after the so-called “news conference” Eldrick held last week, it’s time something be called by its proper name.  So forget “Tiger” Woods.  I’m going to use Eldrick Woods from here on out.  You see, a news conference denotes a sharing of information, a give and take, a two-way street.  While I’m not debating the newsworthiness of Eldrick’s reading of a prepared statement, it was not a news conference.  For that we’d need questions from reporters and answers from Eldrick. We got neither.

Eldrick gave a 14-minute speech that was carried around the globe on the air and online.  The speech, written in advance and rehearsed in both its performance and its reception by the loved ones staged in the room, was not what journalists wanted.  But it was better than what we got before.  Faithful readers of RTDNA.org will recall that, less than a week after Eldrick’s “accident” outside his home in Florida, I wrote to say the golfer should be facing the media right away, telling at least a partial truth about a spat with his wife, and answering reporters’ questions. Had Eldrick done what I suggested then, I daresay he would never have needed to have the most sordid details of his private life go public.  Instead of releasing statements at the time on his web page, Eldrick should have come out and said, “Look, I had an argument with my wife over something stupid I did, drove off in a huff, and crashed my car.”  Men would have accepted the explanation, knowing how they can anger their wives from time to time, and women would have appreciated Eldrick’s admission that he was the one who did something stupid.  And short of Elin divorcing him in the wake of that admission (something that would have probably been less likely then than it is now after the way the alleged affairs went public),  reporters—us—would have likely not seen much of a story there and moved on.

So Eldrick did not then and still has not faced reporters and answered their questions. I made no bones before about my belief that no one becomes a superstar without the complicity of the media and their role in putting an athlete, actor, or other would-be star in front of the public to begin with.  With that introduction comes a debt to the media and the public to be theirs in some special, celebrity-driven way.  Eldrick has hidden from paying back that debt and it has cost him dearly.

What can we do about these celebrity-debt welchers?  First—and you can see I’m serious about this—don’t call what happened Friday a news conference (or a “press” conference if you want to conjure the anachronistic notion that we somehow broadcast through the use of printing presses).  Second, fight back when any number of nobodies in your locale decide they want to do their media appearances like Eldrick did.  Do NOT agree to so-called news conferences that limit your right to ask questions and have a dialogue with the subject.  Once again, I’m reminded of a not so long ago blog in which one clear-thinking news director in Knoxville, Bill Shory, protested that very tactic by the outgoing head football chump at the University of Tennessee.  Do NOT agree to any terms that keep you from asking questions.  For Eldrick, we bent over and took it because of the size of the story.  But that’s a dangerous position in which to leave yourself.  What we saw from him could easily have been recorded and “released” on YouTube.  Do you want that to be the method by which you get all your soundbites?

Finally, make what you’re doing public.  If someone calls a “news conference” that has no conferencing and doesn’t really allow anyone from the news to participate, say so—on the air.  Every time we get a prepared statement read on camera, something released in a pre-recorded video, or any other form of theater that pretends to be an encounter with reporters but really isn’t, we MUST tell our viewers, listeners, and readers about it.  These cowardly tactics only work if we go along with them.  If we don’t, if we protest and report that protest and the practices they call out to the public, then we weaken the approach.  And once it’s weak enough it will stop on its own.

When people step in front of a room full of cameras and microphones and reporters, they need to know the way those rooms operate.  We call the shots there, not the subjects.  And that should always be the rule, whether some small town politician is facing the glare of the camera lights, or whether it’s Eldrick.

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  1. Al Dente
    May 30, 2010 at 5:05 am

    SPN Headlines reports: Tiger Signs New Mega-Dollar Endorsement Deal – exclusive report at:

    http://spnheadlines.blogspot.com/2010/03/tiger-signs-major-endorsement-deal-cola_31.html

    Keep smiling! 🙂

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