Let's get this part clear about Tiger Woods' lecture to "the media" during his public apology Friday: it was the society reporters and photographers that he was taking about, not the golf media.
No one ever accused those of us in the golf media about being too probing when it came to Tiger.
Personally, I consider this a sad commentary on my own reporting. Not that I would have asked him about his life off the course. I still believe that was none of our business as long as it didn't interfere with his career. Now, of course, it's fair game because it has derailed his golf. That is a huge story. In any event, the tone of Tiger's news conferences never has been very confrontational.
Not that we had much choice. If ever there has been a question he didn't like, he would just blow it off or make the questioner look and feel very stupid. Nobody wants to feel stupid on national TV, either as a broadcaster or as a writer whose questions get televised in those news conferences. We all fell into the trap of feeling lucky to get whatever we got from Woods.
In David Carr's excellent media column in today's New York Times, he wrote that he understands the catharsis that Woods experienced in apologizing. Carr added, insightfully, "I just don't know the rest of us were doing there." True, the wire service pool reporters who were there but barred from asking questions might as well have been watching on monitors from Timbuktu.
Carr also quotes Rob Tannenbaum, who wrote a freelance piece on Woods for TV Guide in 2001. Tannenbaum recalled that Woods' people abruptly stopped the interview when Woods raised the topic of race. Race had been a forbidden subject, according to the agreement between Woods' handlers and Tannenbaum. When the writer justly made the point that he never did bring it up, that Woods did, he was given no satisfaction. Interview over. Woods gone.
Tannenbaum, who has done interviews in Eastern Europe, said, "it was almost as if an attache from Moscow had been assigned to me."
All of this is to say that Woods has had an incredibly good and one-way ride with most of the press almost all his life.
As for the paparazzi, well, no one would like their innocent 2 1/2 year old child followed to school. Woods has a legitimate gripe. Then again, was his mea culpa the right venue to give a lecture? Couldn't that have waited for another day? A suggestion, maybe he should have said, "Look, I caused this mess. I'll answer for it. When the time comes, I will explain this and answer questions. But please leave my family alone."
Just a thought.