The “john crows” are circling, swooping and settling on what’s left of Tiger’s reputation. With each new allegation, they flap and shriek in delight. It may mean death for Tiger’s billion-dollar empire but it’s a big feast for the vultures.
Today, it’s not just the tabloids, the mainstream print media, talk radio or television “news” shows that are raking in the loot. There’s a vast predatory Internet out there, teeming with bloody beaks and raptors’ claws.
In a surprisingly candid confession, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz (photo below) told financial analysts in New York this week that the Woods story is “better than Michael Jackson dying” because it’s easier to sell ads against salacious content than morbid stories.
“It’s kind of hard to put an ad up next to a funeral,” she said.
Yahoo says searches for Woods’ name are up more than 3,900 percent over the past 30 days.
It’s not just Yahoo that’s making a killing. Google has also seen a significant spike in traffic from people looking for information on the golf superstar and his alleged extramarital affairs. And Time Inc. says its Golf.com Web site has seen traffic spike 600 percent since the story about Tiger broke after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Nobody seems to care whether the allegations are true. Personally, I have my doubts. To maintain ongoing sexual relationships with so many women for such extended periods, he would have had to be more than a super stud; he would have had to be Houdini. Nobody, not even Tiger Woods, can be in so many different places at the same time.
And it’s not as if the women were irresistible. Looking at their photos, I can’t see why a superstar who can have his pick of the crop would find any of them even moderately attractive. My mother would have called them “tarts.”
Of course, tastes differ, and Tiger might (like country singer Jerry Jeff Walker) prefer his women “a tad on the trashy side.” And psychologists might have something to say about the contrast with his classy wife presenting some kind of perverse appeal, although I have never been completely convinced by that Freudian stuff.
But so many times? And for such extended periods? How boring is that? No, I suspect there’s a lot of exaggeration and exploitation going on here.
If I were Tiger, I would take my billion dollars and sail off into the sunset. I might even change my name and get plastic surgery. If I ever played golf again, it would be with a few close friends at an exclusive country club (at an undisclosed address).
It would mean huge losses for the golf industry, of course. The Tiger Woods phenomenon has swollen tournament attendance and put money in the pockets of all concerned – from journeyman pros to golf equipment manufacturers and tournament sponsors. And it has been a boon to many charities, including Tiger’s foundation. It’s hard to think of anyone who has done more good for so many. But obviously no one remembers that right now.
They’re too busy tearing him apart. If he walks away forever, you can blame the vultures. But they’re not the only ones to blame. The Tiger frenzy says a lot about the public, too. What’s wrong with everybody? Are we so terribly frustrated in our personal lives that we must seek release in voyeurism? Are we so insecure that we delight in identifying the weaknesses of others? Are we so busy casting out the speck of dust in Tiger’s eye that we fail to notice the chip of wood in our own?
Lord have mercy upon us!