As news broke that Tiger Woods was injured in a serious vehicle crash in Los Angeles, cable news networks quickly shifted to nonstop coverage, breaking away from what looked like a day devoted to D.C. politics.
The networks scrambled to book sports reporters and commentators who could talk about the accident, his health history and his impact on the sport. The extent of the coverage reflected Woods’ status as one of the greatest golfers — and athletes — of all time.
“This is a tough guy, a very strong guy…He knows what it takes to endure a significant amount of pain,” sportscaster Jim Gray said on Fox News which, like other networks, provided updates on his condition along with overhead helicopter shots of the neighborhood where the crash occurred, Rancho Palos Verdes, along with shots of the accident scene.
Such breaking news moments often are a bit of an exercise in filling time with relatively scant information about what happened.
On MSNBC, Cindy Boren of The Washington Post talked of Woods’ recent trouble with his back and his recent surgery. She was asked if Woods was determined to stay playing out of a desire to break Jack Nicklaus’ record for Masters wins. “More important to him right now is his kids,” she said.
On CNN, Kyung Lah read a statement from the PGA, which mentioned that Woods was in surgery, but cautioned that she didn’t know when the statement was written.
“These pictures are obviously very alarming,” she said, referring to images of the mangled car from which Woods reportedly was removed via the jaws of life.
“It is gut wrenching. We obviously sit here and wish him well. We are thinking about his family and his two children,” said anchor Brooke Baldwin.
Later, she brought in CNN sports anchor Don Riddell, who talked of Woods’ comeback in the 2019 Masters. He shared a story of talking with Woods a couple of years ago, and Woods mentioning that he thought the “greatest comeback of all time” was golfer Ben Hogan, who was in a serious car accident in the 1940s. “We talk about narrative arcs and storylines, and now we have Tiger Woods potentially in a very, very similar situation,” Riddell said.
Baldwin said, “We are hanging in this abyss of not knowing anything more than the fact that he’s in surgery and he’s had injuries to his legs and that’s it.”
Earlier in the day, CNN and MSNBC carried the Senate hearing on the Capitol siege, while Fox News dipped in and out of the proceedings and largely stuck to their regular programming, including Outnumbered.