Thursday, September 2, 2010

We Want Tiger Woods Dirty Laundry According to Those in the Know

We Want Tiger Woods Dirty Laundry According to Those in the Know

By Evan Weiner

September 2, 2010

(San Juan, PR) -- It was rather sad walking into a sports bar on a cruise ship and seeing Tiger Woods on a bank of televisions yet again explaining away his actions and his divorce prior to playing golf at a tournament in Paramus, New Jersey last week. Tiger talked just after his ex-wife Elin Nordegren gave an interview to Time Warner's People Magazine, a slick supermarket tabloid type publication. Tiger Woods is ultimately responsible for his life and actions but his sordid tale does not need to be splashed all over the place and it was thanks to Harvey Levin and his TMZ show, a show that is pushed on the American public through the "family values" guy Rupert Murdoch on his Fox owned and operated stations and by Time Warner, Levin's business partner on TMZ, and Murdoch's cable TV news competitor.

Murdoch and his News Corporation (which includes Saudi investors) own FOX News Channel while Time Warner has CNN.

Levin, based on his "success" in reporting the Tiger Woods story, wants to increase his sports coverage and the "gotcha" mentality. Levin was a crackerjack reporter on the OJ Simpson 1994 murder trial while at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. His poor reporting on the story included showing a tape that Levin claimed showed the Prosecutor Marcia Clark entering O. J. Simpson's home prior to getting a search warrant nearly ended the trail. The KCBS tape was discredited which forced Levin and KCBS to apologize for showing "misedited" tape.

Levin, a lawyer by trade, still works in the "news" business. Apparently an apology is all you need to get ahead after making a huge mistake that at one time would have cost him and others their jobs. But no more, mistakes get you better deals. Levin went on and became a legal analyst on "The People's Court" -- one of the legal shows that one insider said was fueled by alcohol and "over-the-top" contestants who might not get all the money that they win in the court case on the show.

Levin is a key player in the TV "news" business. The radio and TV “news/talk” business that has been seized by drug addicts, alcoholics, xenophobes, gamblers, sexual harassers, sexual predators, johns, woman beaters, political operatives and disgraced politicians (and other political operatives) who in some cases ended up doing jail time. These are the people who shape the news debate thanks to their enablers, Murdoch, GE's Jeffrey Immelt, CBS' Sumner Redstone, Time Warner, Chancellor Radio, Premiere Radio, Lowry Mays' Clear Channel and Mark Masters' Talk Radio Network.

Masters employs among others Michael Savage (thrown off MSNBC for gay bashing) and the "embattled" Dr. Laura who decided to quit her radio show after she repeatedly using a derogatory racial term to make whatever point a radio talk show host can make in an entertaining form because her first amendment rights were violated.

A good many of these people who host talk radio or Cable TV news shows are school yard bullies who are never challenged by anyone during their shows (the whole talk show genre is a scam with “screeners” putting on callers and the know-it-all host playing lord over the airwaves with peasants being granted 90 seconds of their precious time usually genuflecting before the talk show lord). Yet when the talk show hosts are caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they scream, poor, poor pitiful me. They also have problems with being called out with Dr. Laura the latest crybaby. Only in radio can someone (a talk show host) can constantly put down callers and hang up on them can be victimized if someone criticizes them. Dr. Laura is quitting her talk show because her first right amendment, she claims, has been violated.

Larry King is being exalted as his retirement date is nearing. Why? Larry King was a below average interviewer with little news or journalistic credibility among the people in the know but he was a star for some reason. Perceived perception more than likely as a persona of Larry King was sold and people bought into it. Larry’s personal life including the eight marriages to seven women and the money problems are perfect in the tawdry world of radio and Cable TV news operatives.

This is the world in which Levin operates and where Tiger Woods got stuck and this world threatens the Professional Golf Association financially--because the PGA has one megastar in Tiger Woods who brings in the cash and got golf into the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The International Olympic Committee saw money in Tiger and added golf to the lineup of sports and ignored baseball and softball. Tiger was gold until Levin’s reportage.

Tiger Woods does not have to be grilled by sportswriters. He is a golfer, nothing more and nothing less. He is not a role model which is little more a sportswriters' word invention to sell newspapers about a century ago when newspaper owners figured out they could report on sports and make some money off of the sports industry.

Hero worshipping is a better term than jock sniffers and sportswriters created hero-athletes. Sportswriters also genuflect in front of jocks and in some cases have been abused both verbally and physically by jocks who have among other incidents poured water over their heads, stuffed them into lockers, have had food and tape recorders flung at them.

Athletes are not and should never have been considered role models. They aren't but the mythology is so well entrenched in sportswriters and sports fans minds.

The sportswriters who cover golf and Tiger Woods sounded like the baseball writers who could not figure out that banned substances were being used in baseball in the 1990s. They had no clue about Tiger. The baseball writers were also ignorant even though the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell and NBC's Bob Costas had publicly said they thought steroids were being used in the game. The golf writers complained they never got to know Tiger and if they did, well they would have said something.

Sure they would have. Sportswriters are an extension of sports public relations departments and there is no quicker way to get access shut down then start saying what you know to be true instead of writing what the industry expects. Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton cut off media access while he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies because of some of the things written about him. The Baseball Hall of Fame has a “media” section and inducts baseball writers into the museum—an absurd notion as writers are supposed cover baseball not be applauded by the baseball industry---and it was rather fitting than one time Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog and New York Daily News baseball writer Bill Madden went in together as Madden and his colleagues were in Whitey’s words of the mid-1980s one of those “good baseball people” – baseball writers as opposed to other media representatives from radio and TV.

Levin wants to expand his TMZ franchise into sports. It would be a first in the United States but Levin is far behind the Brits and Fleet Street in terms of spewing the sports gossip. Footballer (soccer) star Georgie Best was a darling of the London tabloids for his lifestyle.

Meanwhile the PGA officials have to be wondering about the tour's financial future with Tiger Woods not playing well and the whole Levin pushed narrative about Tiger and his ex-wife. Levin's gang of "journalists" got the story into the public but what should have been a private matter may do some significant damage to the Tour and may harm some people who depend on money raised by the Tour and given to charities.

If Tiger Woods continues to slump and is not in contention for a Sunday victory in any tournament that he has entered, television ratings will slide as Tiger brings eyeballs in front of the TV to watch golf. Redstone and CBS along with Immelt's NBC might and Brian Roberts' (Comcast) Golf Channel decide the Tour is not worth the investment as the networks have deals in place until 2012 that pays the PGA $255 million. Roberts, of course, will run NBC if everyone signs off on the Comcast-NBCUniversal agreement which would give Comcast NBC and the Peacock Network's cable networks which include USA, msnbc and CNBC.

Tiger Woods has already lost endorsements. The PGA could also lose endorsements if people turn away from golf because Tiger isn't playing well and some of those marketing partners may walk away from sponsoring tournaments which could mean that the PGA drops some events. The PGA gives a portion of the revenues from each tournament to charities, it is unlikely Levin's TMZ or his partners Time Warner or Murdoch will make up the charitable contributions.

At the end of the day, Tiger Woods has to take responsibility for his actions but that should have been a private matter. The sports bar on the ship went on with life after the TV banks had Tiger’s talk, there were other games and highlights and there were patrons who sat watching the screen with their drinks in hand. The old Tiger, the pre-November 2009 Tiger showed up on Thursday but it was the post Harvey Levin and TMZ Tiger that came to Paramus on Friday. One day Tiger will become yesterday's news and some other poor and unfortunate fellow or girl will be ensnared by Levin and his ilk. Don Henley's lyrics in his October 1982 song Dirty Laundry are as current and spot on today as they were in 1982 except there are more places where Dirty Laundry shows up then in 1982 as Tiger Woods could have told reporters on Thursday in Paramus.

Henley complained that "Crap is King". So far Tiger has refrained from singing "Dirty Laundry" but dirty laundry is being presented everyday as fact all you have to do is turn on the AM radio dial or flip on cable TV news and it is there in gross tonnage.

Evan Weiner is an award winning journalist, a radio-TV commentator and an author of The Business and Politics of Sports. He can be reached at

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