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Sunday, 10 May 2009

A Storm In A Tin Cup

If you play any of the Tiger Woods games then you'll notice a Northern Irish voice as part of the commentary. David Feherty was a pretty unremarkable golfer. He won five European Tour events, made one Ryder Cup and came close at The Open a couple of times. He is best known for his analysis work on CBS in the States, where I have found him to be witty and intelligent (unlike his Playstation persona). In this month's issue of a Dallas based magazine, 'D Magazine', Feherty wrote about his feelings on George W Bush moving to the home of the Cowboys. His piece included the following extract:

"From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this though," Feherty wrote toward the end of his column. "Despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death."

Leaving politics aside, it's a tasteless joke. Feherty shouldn't have written it but he did. However, he's still as good a golf analyst as he was before he did write it, not that you'd think so judging by this statement from his employers, CBS. "We want to be clear that this column for a Dallas magazine is an unacceptable attempt at humor and is not in any way condoned, endorsed or approved by CBS Sports... "

Golfing authorities chipped in too... if you'll pardon the pun. "David Feherty is an insightful and sometimes humorous commentator for CBS Sports' golf coverage," the PGA Tour said in a statement. "However, his attempt at humor in this instance went over the line, and his comments were clearly inappropriate. We hope he will use better judgment in the future."

Media Matters for America went a step further. In a press release, they called his "violent" comments "disgusting" and said they "insulted the integrity, honor and professionalism" of American servicemen. They went on to tell CBS that they should demand an apology from Feherty, even though the joke was not made on a CBS telecast but in a non-CBS related magazine.

Feherty's judgement is lacking here, that's fine. But the shit storm that has erupted around this case is ridiculous, surely. Feherty expressed his opinion in the form of a joke, something that's done on countless other TV and radio shows across America and the world.

Here's something that's not promoted as much as Feherty's gaffes and alcohol troubles. Though Irish -born, he has become a naturalized American citizen and has travelled to Iraq on two separate occasions to be with the troops. He works with them as part of the 'Troops First Foundation' which aims to raise $15m for troops who lose limbs in service. He's someone who doesn't give lip-service to American troops but gives up his own time and money to thank them for the service he obviously appreciates. So when CBS and Media Matters America are quick to lash Feherty, they should in truth take a moment to realise that though they disagree with the sentiment behind his quip, this so-so golfer from Bangor knows a lot more about the sentiments of the troops serving in Baghdad than most.

And for the record, he commended George W and Laura for their decision to move to Dallas.

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EDIT: David Feherty has apologised for the remarks referred to in the above article.


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