November 12, 2014
Dear Mr. Townsend,
As the agency for Tiger Woods, we have a very serious inquiry about a piece that appears in the December issue of Golf Digest.
The story completely fabricates an interview between writer Dan Jenkins and Mr. Woods. What we would like to know is how this was approved by editors and whether you, as the publisher, will stand behind this as in any way journalistically responsible? What standards and tenets were used for the story and accompanying artwork? It is not enough to claim that Mr. Jenkins is an “opinion writer” or that this is mere “parody” when under that guise Mr. Jenkins makes a litany of disparagements that are either baseless or demonstrably untrue. Mr. Jenkins has long held a personal hostility for Mr. Woods, a fact that is common knowledge in golf journalism. Knowing that, editors ought to be holding him to a firmer standard of responsible reporting, grounded in fact. Instead, they have allowed him to realize his vendetta, concocting situations that arise out of his own grudges and frustrations. There’s a word for writers that stoop to this underhanded technique: Fabulist.
We would also like you to account for the following:
• Jenkins implies in the piece he was declined for an interview with Tiger. But no such request was made, at least not recently. Shouldn't he have done that before making up an interview?
• Digest staged an impersonating actor for photographs next to a Cadillac SUV, apparently to mislead readers. Is that sort of deception acceptable in Conde Nast publications?
• Jenkins puts words in our client’s mouth saying variously, that he has contempt for tipping, enjoys firing employees, is unable to make business decisions, isn’t smart, disregards his friends, and is personally dishonest. But these things aren’t jokes, they are character slanders and ones for which Jenkins has no basis whatsoever. If there is some tangible way that Jenkins believes any of these things, then he ought to have the integrity to state it outright.
• Would this story have even been considered if Tiger was still associated with Golf Digest?
• Has any other person in golf been subjected to this treatment in your magazines? We can’t recall any piece remotely like this. We certainly can’t imagine any of the golfers that are frequent contributors to the magazine being attacked like this.
We are requesting a formal response to these questions on how journalistically or ethically this piece is acceptable, and we are also asking for a written apology. We hope you’ll agree that what credibility the magazine still has requires it.
Mark Steinberg, Partner Excel Sports Management
Glenn Greenspan Vice President, Communications ETW Corporation