New York Times sports anchor John Branch’s feature on the reemergence of Tiger Woods hassled the golf player for not criticizing President Trump.
“Woods rejoins the cultural landscape in 2018, a far different time and place than when he was last great — everywhere but a golf course, at least.That his re-emergence comes in the Age of Trump is a delicious coincidence, wrought with complexity that Woods would rather avoid.”
An athlete who would like to stick to sports, rather than delve into politics? Interesting.
“A golfer who still may be the most famous multicultural athlete on the planet. A president cleaving the country on cultural and racial lines. Occasional golf partners, Woods designing a course that will have Trump’s name on it, Woods evading the subject of their relationship — ‘We all must respect the office’ — while Trump tweets his appreciation. Somehow, none of that matters. Not here. Not if Woods can help it.”
When Branch puts aside his anti-Trump obsession, he continues to scrutinize Woods in his writings. He argues that Woods should take more public political stances because of his fame.
“He has since rarely foraged into any thorny racial, cultural or political issue, to the frustration of some. Either he has few strong opinions or he figures that there is little to gain by expressing them publicly. Either way, golf’s demographics do not encourage it,” he writes.
“But 2018 is a different era than the last time Woods captured the collective imagination. Trump, especially, is working the backhoe on the racial divide, finding sports to be a place to roil debate. He has ranted against athletes who knelt during the national anthem and sparred with LeBron James on Twitter.”
“Woods is designing the course for Trump World Golf Course Dubai, scheduled to open next year. The project took root before Trump’s company took on management, but the website for Tiger Woods Ventures, referred to as TGR, an umbrella organization over all of Woods’ business and charitable work, does not dodge the association.”
Branch simply wouldn’t let it go.
“Woods was absent from golf for most of 2017, and went most of the year without being asked about Trump or these divisive times. Through his agent, Mark Steinberg, Woods declined a request to discuss his thoughts for this article. So I asked the questions at a news conference after Woods finished his final round at The Northern Trust, where he finished in a tie for 40th. The interaction took 60 seconds.”
“Well, I’ve known Donald for a number of years,” Woods said. “We’ve played golf together, and we’ve had dinner together. So, yeah, I’ve known Donald pre-presidency and, obviously, during his presidency.”
“What do you say to people who might find it interesting that you have a friendly relationship with President Trump? I asked.”
“Well, he’s the president of the United States,” Woods said. “You have to respect the office. No matter who’s in the office, you may like, dislike the personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”
Branch then began attacking him for his response.
“I asked Woods — the son of an immigrant mother and an icon to minority communities, on a first-name relationship with a president many people of color consider a racist — the least-specific question imaginable, the news-conference equivalent of open-mic night.”
“Do you have anything more broadly to say about the state, I guess the discourse, of race relations in this country?”
“No, I just finished 72 holes,” said Woods. “And really hungry.”
The Times has a long history of making an attempt to use Woods to their own political ends. In 2003, contentious editor Howell Raines used the editorial page to plead with Woods to boycott the Masters golf tournament over the male-only membership rules of its host, the Augusta National Golf Club.