ESPN attacked golfer Tiger Woods on Monday after he refused to trash President Trump at a post-tournament press conference.
A reporter interviewed Woods during the Wyndham Championship in Paramus, N.J., and all but encouraged him to bash or at least distance himself from Trump.
“I think a lot of people, especially people of color, immigrants … feel threatened by [Trump] and his policies,” the reporter said. “He’s thrown himself into sports debates … LeBron James, the national anthem.
“What do you say to people who might find it interesting that you have a friendly relationship with him?”
“He’s the president of the United States,”Woods said. “You have to respect the office. And no matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike, personality or the politics, but we all must respect offices.”
Woods has known Trump for more than 20 years and golfed with him and two other Tour pros last Thanksgiving.
“I’ve known Donald for a number of years,” Woods said. “We’ve played golf together. We’ve had dinner together. I’ve known him pre-presidency and obviously during his presidency.”
ESPN then asked him to comment on the state of race relations in the country. Woods declined.
“No. I just finished 72 holes and am really hungry,” he said.
ESPN has been trying to shake its image as a political mouthpiece. Last week, the network canceled its contract with Jemele Hill, who has called the president a “white supremacist who has surrounded himself with other white supremacists.”
But on First Take on Monday, the network returned to politics.
“It really bothers me,” First Take cohost Max Kellerman said. “I’m angry at what Tiger Woods said, because it is a thoughtless statement dressed up as a thoughtful statement, and it either holds in contempt the intelligence of people who hear it, or else it’s just a stupid thing to say.”
Having respect for the office “means, principally, in my view, [that] the office-holder should have respect for the office,” Kellerman said.
“We must respect the office therefore that confers respect to the occupant? Tiger, is that what you’re saying? If that’s what you’re saying, that is a stupid comment. I don’t even know if he believes that that’s what he’s saying.”
“We are held to a standard of behavior, we at our jobs, right people in their daily lives. The president, if anything, is held to a higher standard of behavior.
“It is not such that we have such great respect for the office that no matter what the behavior of its occupant, we must respect the occupant because of the office. No. Tiger Woods is being slick.”
Cohost Steven A. Smith agreed.
“First of all, we don’t know what Tiger Woods believes. He’s Cablinasian,” Smith said, using the term Woods made up to describe his ethnicity. “He’s not black. When he got arrested, he was black. He was listed as black on the report.”
Additionally, Smith said Woods upset the black community by refusing to identify as black and take up black political causes.
“So let’s understand that Tiger Woods … that’s the issue the African-American community has always had,” Smith said. “Because, obviously from a historical perspective, if one-third of you has a darker hue, a darker pigmentation, the bottom line is you are black and it is that simple.”
“So what I’m saying to you is, clearly, you are perceived as being a black man and even though you didn’t want to disassociate yourself from your mother’s ethnicity, who is Thai, I believe, the bottom line is that’s the reason why he took that position.
“But black Americans haven’t respected that from Tiger for quite some time. They haven’t heard him speak on a plethora of issues pertaining to having a social consciousness on many, many occasions.”
Photo by Keith Allison