Tiger Woods' remarks bring media frenzy
Across the media landscape, time stopped for 13 and a half minutes Friday as Tiger Woods emerged from the shadows with a much-awaited, tightly packaged video apology for his sexual escapades.
Dozens of broadcast networks, cable news outlets, and online streams carried his scripted statement live, allowing a global audience to see and hear from Woods for the first time since his public image went into free fall nearly three months ago.
Viewers by the millions paused to watch and listen as the golf great spoke from the clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass, home of the PGA Tour, in Ponte Vedra, Fla. Meanwhile, news anchors, TV pundits and morning show hosts sat ready to pounce with their reviews.
Rick Cerone, former New York Yankees public relations director, criticized the apology: "What I saw was arrogance. ... It was basically an infomercial."
"I think he was very genuine in his responses and his statement," Debert Cook, publisher of African American Golfer's Digest, said. "I think we are entering a whole new era spiritually and emotionally for Tiger Woods. There's always going to be the doubters out there, but I think we have to take him at his word and watch his actions."
It was unusual for such a broad swath of TV outlets to hand several minutes of precious airtime to any public figure with a message to peddle, no questions asked. On the other hand, Woods' message was short, dramatic and -- no matter if you bought his remorse or not -- gripping when he declared, "I was unfaithful, I had affairs, I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame."
For many of the networks -- especially cable news and sports-oriented ESPN -- his news-making confessional was a welcome rallying point, rich grist for the mill for such talk-dominated TV. It promised to fuel hours of fresh debate on All Things Tiger, a favorite sport since Woods ran his SUV over a fire hydrant and into a tree outside his Florida home on Nov. 27. The resulting scandal has imperiled Woods' towering status as an athlete and commercial brand.
The stock market slowed at 11 a.m. as traders watched Woods' remarks. Volume on the New York Stock Exchange leveled off, then picked up momentum after he fell silent.
But the fact that Woods' remarks were scheduled on a workday meant many viewers in the U.S. were following from their offices in front of computer screens.
Though Woods' apology was carefully orchestrated, online chatter -- which has not been kind to the golfer since the scandal broke -- was dramatically messier. A popular thread on Twitter was what "tigershouldve" said. The suggestions were overwhelmingly sarcastic and full of vulgar puns.
In the middle of Woods' apology, the Onion promptly posted a story headlined: "Tiger Woods Announces Return to Sex." Bill Simmons, a popular sports columnist for ESPN.com, tweeted: "I can't believe Nike killed Tiger and replaced him with a robot."
Woods was the most popular topic charted by Google Trends. The majority of the most popular topics on Twitter were Woods-related, including "Buddhist" as users reacted to Woods' saying Buddhism was helping him through his troubles.
Many sites, such as Fox41.com, encouraged viewer feedback. Gina commented, "I am sure his 100's of millions of dollars and girlfriends will comfort him just fine .... I feel sorry for his wife and kids they did not deserve to be treated so disrespectfully!" And Brenda commented: "Messed up,got caught,apologized..it's over as far as a lot of us are concerned. It's his life he has to live with it..move on..plz"
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post gave viewers the chance to vote on how Woods handled himself: hole in one, par for the course or a double bogey.