Friday, March 5, 2010

John Daly: victim or volunteer?

The Florida Times-Union ran a story this week about golf reporters asking the PGA to suspend larger-than-life pro John Daly. Daly drew the reporters’ ire when he tweeted the cellphone number of a Times-Union journalist who had written an embarrassing story about him, suggesting his fans call the reporter with their feedback. (The tweet has since been deleted, but you can see it here, on It's worth noting that a year ago, a libel case Daly had brought against the same newspaper was thrown out of court.

The story, titled “PGA Tour file of John Daly details his many breakdowns,” contains exactly what you’d expect it to, given the title. I won’t re-print the lead, partly because I don’t particularly want John Daly’s fans calling me.

Daly’s file is public record, so the information it contains is fair game. There isn’t a libel issue here; it’s just a case of a reporter making hay by exposing someone else’s weaknesses – certainly nothing new in the world of journalism.

So did John Daly just reach his breaking point, and lash out in retaliation against what he perceives as the unfairness of the system?

Or, was it just the kind of publicity John Daly wanted?

As it happens, this week also marks the launch of a new reality TV show on the Golf Channel, called… wait for it… Being John Daly.

The show positions the mercurial Daly as a man who has struggled with his own demons – using that struggle as the compelling human interest producers hope will attract viewers. Clearly, Daly isn’t averse to open discussion of his past; maybe he’s just averse to open discussion of his past in forums which don’t deliver ad revenues to him.

Bill Clinton is quoted as having said "never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel," meaning that journalists will always have the last word. And while social media has changed that dynamic somewhat (that is, the Internet gives us all endless opportunity to rant), it's still good advice: because you'll never do yourself any favours by picking a fight with a reporter (and worse, by making it personal).

But was Daly's tweet calculated to draw the ire of the reporter and with it, more coverage of Daly's own antics, to coincide with the launch of the show?

And if it was, was it worth it?

Time will tell.

(Photo credit: Florida Times-Union)

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