AUGUSTA, Ga. — P.T. Barnum would not have been impressed by the so-called media circus outside the gates of Augusta National on Monday. It was more one ring than three. "It's true," said NBC News rising-star correspondent Peter Alexander, minutes after wrapping an interview with a Masters memorabilia dealer on Washington Road. "TMZ's not running around here chasing guys down with sirens and cameras."
There were no obvious signs of RadarOnline hanging around the gates either. Or US Weekly. And certainly no Perez Hilton—you wouldn't miss his flamboyant style among this Bermuda shorts-wearing crowd. Indeed, of all the talk of non-sports media that were planning to descend on Augusta this week, the only notable presence on or near Washington Road is Alexander's outlet. The network set up a hub in the Simon's Formal Wear store just across the street from the club and has three makeshift studios set on stilts in the adjoining parking lot. "We chose to be right outside the gate because we wanted to be as close as we could be," Alexander said. (CBS, ABC and CNN are camped at Augusta Country Club, presumably to shoot against a leafier, golfier backdrop.)
"We are feeding all the platforms of NBC—msnbc.com, CNBC, The Today Show, Nightly News," Alexander said, explaining his network's heavy presence. "This is the biggest sports/news story—at least in terms of a scandal—of the year. People want resolution." People also want more sordid details, but for at least the first 24 or so hours of Masters week, the shame-mongerers haven't disclosed any new bombshells.
Even Tiger's press conference yesterday provided little for the tabs to feast on, other than the unsurprising fact that a certain Swede has decided to bunk elsewhere this week. "Ending speculation and shooting down some reports that his wife Elin would join him during the Masters," RadarOnline re-reported Monday, "Tiger confirmed what RadarOnline.com reported days ago, saying: ‘Elin is not coming this week.' "
A cursory scan of the gossip sites confirmed that this was the lead Woods story on most of the others too—on Day 1, anyway. Then again, The National Enquirer and Co. didn't have the luxury of a seat in The Press Conference, a 35-minute session in which Tiger avoided having to answer any genuinely cringe-inducing questions. "I think the frustration for some folks is that though admittedly the golf media asked good, tough questions [Monday], a lot of the news media that views this as more than just a sports story would have liked to be inside too," Alexander said.
One question the traditional news media must now turnaround and ask itself is, with Tiger's presser yesterday and his immersion back into the public eye, is the story finally beginning to run its course? Now that Woods has faced the lions—albeit a room full of golf writers—will that satiate the public's hunger for Woods dirt? Yes and no, it seems.
"To be fair, whenever a [Woods] news nugget comes out, we'll still do a story. Whenever there's a new revelation, whenever he speaks, we'll do a story," Alexander says. "But if two weeks from now another woman comes out and says 'I slept with Tiger Woods,' I can promise you we're not going to race to the studio and say, 'Hear ye! Hear ye!' "