On Friday the Wall Street Journal confirmed an earlier report from the NY Post about the deal Tiger Woods Inc. and American Media Inc. made in 2007 to prevent the National Enquirer, owned by AMI, from publishing “compromising” photos of Tiger and another woman, allegedly Mindy Lawton, the Perkins waitress. Supposedly, an Enquirer photographer snapped shots of Tiger and Lawton meeting in his car at an empty parking lot in late winter or early spring of 2007. When the Enquirer first contacted Tiger’s handlers to notify them that they had evidence of Tiger’s dalliance, they refused to comment. But then the two camps reached an agreement: Tiger would do an in-depth interview for the cover story of the tabloid’s sister magazine, Men’s Fitness, and the Enquirer wouldn’t publish their expose.
At the time, according to the WSJ, even Golf Digest editor Jerry Tarde was baffled Tiger agreed to do the Men’s Fitness story:
Under Golf Digest’s contract with Mr. Woods, the monthly, which is owned by Condé Nast Publications Inc., spent as much as $1 million annually on donations to the Tiger Woods Foundation, printing the charity’s annual report and sponsoring many of Mr. Woods’s preferred tournaments, according to a person familiar with the terms. In return, Mr. Woods agreed to contribute monthly articles on golf techniques and limit his appearances in competing publications.
Yet never had Golf Digest been granted the level of access to the golfer’s private life allowed for in the article and photo shoot published in Men’s Fitness in August 2007. Mr. Tarde says he did not object because the interview wasn’t a violation of Golf Digest’s agreement with Mr. Woods. He said he assumed Mr. Woods had agreed to the interview as a way to generate publicity for his trainer, Keith Kleven. Mr. Kleven, who was quoted extensively in the Men’s Fitness article, did not return calls for comment.
AMI denied any deal was cut to kill the damaging photos of Tiger, but according to the report on December 15th by the Post’s Keith Kelly, former Men’s Fitness editor-in-chief Neal Boulton said otherwise:
[American Media CEO] David Pecker knew about Tiger Woods’ infidelity a long time ago,” Boulton told The Post. “[Pecker] traded silence for a Men’s Fitness cover.”
Pecker rebuffed the allegation to the Post, calling Boulton a “disgruntled former employee.” When the WSJ contacted Pecker, he refused to comment.
It all makes sense, though, right? To my understanding, these types of arrangements are often conducted between handlers and the media.
Curiously enough, with the threat of the Enquirer expose from two years ago, Tiger didn’t learn to cover his tracks better or change his philandering ways. And now, he’s (obviously) paying for his long history of mistakes.