First the Noose, Next the Muzzle:
The Golf Channel’s Suspension of Kelly Tilghman
The Golf Channel has suspended Kelly Tilghman for a slip of the tongue comment about players lynching Tiger Woods in an alley. Of course, neither the golf world at large, nor the Golf Channel, are exactly paragons of courage so I guess I really shouldn't be surprised. Still, this new low for the Golf Channel is truly reprehensible. Remember when The King saw fit to can Peter Kessler? That was downright noble behavior compared with this...
The Golf Channel is treating one of their most evenhanded announcers as if she had engaged in a Michael Richards-like N-Word laced tirade. Whom did she harm? Who took offense? Not Woods, that's for sure. His camp was quoted as saying, "This story is a non-issue. Tiger and Kelly are friends and Tiger has a great deal of respect for Kelly. Regardless of the choice of words used we know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments. This story is a non-issue in our eyes. Case closed." Were there any
calls of complaint from actual Golf Channel viewers or just the hack pundits who come out of the woodwork at times like this?
Worst of all, the Golf Channel is caving in to pressure from the likes of Al Sharpton, a man whose sole reason for living is to get himself on TV as often as possible, while adding nothing valid to the debate. Being an actual reverend with an actual congregation would be far too much like work for Sharpton.
Instead of standing behind Tilghman the Golf Channel has sold their soul and sent her to the back of the bus with a two week suspension. Their actions are nakedly self-protecting, nothing more, and should be repudiated. I am sure that Tilghman wishes that she'd simply substituted the word mugged
, but things happen when you're on the air and making a split second choice of words. The Golf Channel has no such defense for their mistake. They had the time to judge and to deliberate but, in the end, they chose the easy way out and failed us all.
2008 is the year that drug testing comes to golf, something unimaginable only a few years ago. It also seems that this will be the year when rampant political correctness will finally take hold in this most civil of games. First, we have The Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman hit with a two week suspension for joking that young players may have to resort to lynching Tiger Woods in an alley. Now, Golfweek has gotten a taste of PC for depicting a noose on the cover of the very issue that contains their report on the Tilghman/ Golf Channel Affair.
Lost in all of this is the question of judgment. Last week I wrote about the fact that given time to deliberate and act fairly The Golf Channel instead opted to pander to the partisans and pundits rather than stand by one of their most respected commentators. This week shows that Golfweek's judgment is a little dodgy as well. One has to assume that there were more than two heads in the room when they chose the Noose motif for the January 19th issue.
I judge Golfweek less harshly than The Golf Channel for some of the same reasons that I think has made Tilghman a scapegoat. The folks at Golfweek had no ill intent when they chose the noose. Their mistake was to see themselves as above the fray as reporters. While I am not sure they were correct, I can understand their thinking. By contrast, The Golf Channel's actions were self-preserving, nothing more.
The fact is that only Tilghman's actions are wholly understandable. As a human being who is paid to talk she made a poor choice of words. I can only hope that the bold fraternity of golf writers don't find it all too easy to reach for the muzzle next.