The Tiger Woods situation has been permeating the media for a few weeks now- in case you missed it, he’s been sleeping with a lot of women all across the country and he got busted for all of it. By his wife. And then he got in a car accident and now it’s public.
Most of Woods’ sponsors have been sticking by him, probably as much out of their own desire to hang on to their investment as any kind of stand-up moral cause. Accenture and Gilette have both dropped Woods from their endorsement roster, and now AT&T. The political sphere saw its share of sex scandals this year as well, and it’s instructive to look at how the two public arenas handle these things differently.
Reuters reports that the AT&T spokesman declined to give any details about Woods or the situation in general- understandable. This sets off flags in my head, like why won’t you say that you don’t want to be associated with scandal or that you disapprove of his adultery or simply that you don’t want bad press. But what would this look like in politics? If a president or governor did this and some of his big supporters backed away, would they have to explain why? Nope. The public sphere wants more information from their stars that politics does. You only get the big press on the way up, the rise to power, and then when you are hit by scandal you can count on people leaving you alone, but they don’t have to explain why. Scandal is kryptonite in politics- so why do corporations act like they are a spouse with their spokes people?
In the political world, also, you cannot just not talk about it. Woods has not given any public statements or interviews about this- he has been silent. That is not allowed in politics. If Woods wants to, he can just be silent for the rest of his life. He never has to give an interview- he’s a private citizen. The public transgressions of a public figure like a governor or president, however, cannot be run from or hidden.
A similarity, though, is that you can go on with your business even while all of the scandal is happening. Woods is choosing to take an indefinite break from the golf world to try and save his marriage- if I know anything from what I hear from friends, having the husband sit around the house all day is not a way to save your marriage. Contrast this technique with President Bill Clinton’s approach, though, where he just went on with his business during the Monica Lewinsky stuff, not to mention the other women. If you are a politician, I think, you just keep going. Because that’s what you do. Woods, on the other hand, has retracted like a turtle into his shell, letting no one in and putting no word out.
For Woods, though, only the vote of his wife counts!
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (via Flickr under CCL)