Into the Woods

If you were to interview Tiger Woods, what would you ask him?

For the first time since the sex scandal that upended his personal and professional life in November, Tiger Woods gave interviews to the media on Sunday, at a golf course near his home in Florida. With two conditions: a five-minute time limit for each reporter and an embargo on airing the interview until 7:30 that night. ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi and the Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman took turns speaking to Woods—and though there were no restrictions or pre-conditions laid out beforehand on what could or couldn’t be asked, Woods avoided answering certain inquiries he deemed too personal.

It all made for ratings gold—but one news outlet offered the opportunity for five minutes with Tiger decided to pass. CBS declined the invitation because of the short time window, and because, as The New York Times’s Media Decoder blog reported, they just didn’t think there would be much new to add to the conversation after ESPN and the Golf Channel had had their turns. Indeed, though Rinaldi and Tilghmann managed to elicit different insights from the golf legend, some parts of their rapid-fire, beat-the-clock interviews overlapped.

According to the AP, CBS Sports spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade said CBS would be interested in an extended interview with Woods “without any restrictions.” They just might get it when he makes his much awaited comeback at the Masters, which they own the broadcast rights to. But they might not.

Tiger’s always been a pretty tough interview. He’s guarded and he’s on-message—and, in some ways, now more than ever. During his (oddly private) public apology in February, he barred the wire service reporters in the room from asking questions at all, and required the 300 other journalists in “attendance” to watch his remarks on television monitors in a separate building. The whole charade prompted the American Golf Writers Association to boycott the event. On Sunday, Woods was at least answering questions, but still at arm’s length. He and his questioners didn’t even sit down to talk. Instead, they stood face to face, as if Woods might bolt away any second. Which was kind of the idea.

Given the time limitation on Tiger’s Sunday interviews, would you, like CBS, take a pass—or would you choose to talk to him? And, if so, what would you ask that hasn’t been asked already?

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.