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OPINION: Inquisitors Tarnish Major Run-Up

Donald Trump's close relationship with golf has brought politics into pre-tournament press rooms. (Photo Credit: Russell Cheyne, Reuters)

BEDMINSTER, New Jersey — No wonder they hate us. Journalists today are among the most reviled professionals in the world and not without cause. According to recent surveys from USA Today, only 4 percent of the public have a “very positive” view of the media and 70 percent think that the media displays a purposeful bias.

If you attended or watched the pre-tournament press conferences at the U.S. Women’s Open, you’d have to ask: Who makes up the 4 percent?

Every player and official who came in for interviews on Tuesday was hit with the same battery of questions. Do you think this championship should have been moved because of President Trump’s statements about women? What do you think of President Trump? Is it appropriate that our women’s national championship is held at a Trump property? Do you think the president should stay away from this event? One reporter even asked a couple of players and USGA officials what their position was on sexual assault.

“(So Yeon Ryu, number-one player in the world), did you have any trepidation playing at a course owned by Donald Trump after some of the comments he made about women?” asked a reporter who, if he plays golf at all, probably wears striped tube socks and board shorts and carries his golf bag like a suitcase.

Ryu: “I’m not American (you idiot, she didn’t add) so I don’t really know about political stuff. I’m a professional golfer. I’m thinking more about how I’m going to play well. We are here to play golf, not here to talk about politics.”

“(Hey, Michelle Wie), Donald Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women,” another reporter began. “Now he’s hosting the crown jewel of women’s golf, the U.S. Women’s Open. What do you think of that?”

Wie, who is very bright and not easily goaded, said: “I take my role as a female role model very seriously. This week is about the golf. The U.S. Open is our national championship. It is one of my favorite weeks of the year. So, this week, I really want to focus on the golf and I want to, hopefully, inspire a lot of young women, and women in general, with my game.”

Of course, that answer demanded a follow-up. “So, it doesn’t concern you?” the reporter asked.  

“I will not comment on anything political this week,” Wie said, staring daggers through the reporter. “This week is about golf for me. I’m excited to compete in this championship. It’s purely about the golf.”

Of course, it is. What the inquisitors don’t seem to realize is that, for the players in the field, it wouldn’t matter if this golf course was owned by the Apostle Paul or Uday Hussein. They couldn’t care less. This is the biggest tournament in the women’s game. Of course, it’s about the golf.

What was done on Tuesday in Bedminster was not news. It was not journalism. This was advocacy, the advancement of an editorial position without any foundation or context. The stories were written before the reporters showed up. All they needed were a couple of quotes to slug into place.

It was embarrassing, enraging and, sadly, expected.

The Washington Post and Politico have an entire front row of seats in the media center. The former never sends more than one reporter to this event (if any) and the latter (according to officials on site) has never covered a women’s golf event.

Hopefully, they will either learn the women’s game and the wonderful players who are in it, or they won’t cover another one. Either way, Tuesday’s show was another black eye on journalism.

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