As pretty much anyone who isn’t living under a rock is aware by now, Tiger Woods, the controversial darling of the golfing world, was arrested in the early hours Monday morning for driving under the influence. The arrest report charges Woods with “DUI-unlawful blood alcohol/DUI alcohol or drugs.” While the arrest was obviously sensational in and of itself, a secondary little controversy was unleashed when ESPN chose to photoshop the arrest photo in its reporting of the incident.
While the mugshot released by the Palm Beach, Florida, County Sheriff’s Office reveals a bleary-eyed, unkempt looking Tiger with seriously big, wild hair, the initial ESPN report cleaned him up a bit by using photoshop to give him a neat buzzcut. An Internet furor broke out after an eagle-eyed reader spotted the difference and tweeted about it.
While it is indisputable that Woods looks pretty bad in both pictures, he certainly looks far more clean-cut and less crazy in the ESPN picture, causing many to question the reasoning behind the changes.
In response to the heated debate that ensued, ESPN steadfastly insisted that the editing had nothing to do with trying to protect Woods’ reputation or for any other nefarious reason.
“We have utilized a standard template for on-air headshots, which led to the background being dropped for consistency,” the company said in a statement. “We will revisit this process to improve it going forward.”
And they followed through on that promise, with later reports as the story unfolded showing the original, unpolished image of Woods in all his glory (or the lack thereof).
Woods was adamant at the time of his arrest that he had not been drinking before taking to the road, and recent reports would indicate that he was telling the truth. When police at the scene made him take a breathalyzer test – not once, but twice – his readings were 0.00 both times. It has subsequently transpired that Woods had been taking four prescription medications for some time for knee and Achilles tendon injuries. He has also been recovering from the back surgery which he underwent in April. [RELATED: Did you know that prescription painkillers kill far more people than heroin or cocaine?]
While it might be easy to laugh off what was clearly an attempt by ESPN to soften the blow for Tiger Woods, it once again raises the burning issue of fake news. While self-appointed guardians of the Internet like Google and Facebook have made it their business to pick and choose what they believe to be fake news, this is a glaring example of total doctoring of the facts – and yet it is unlikely that there will be any backlash against ESPN, other than by outraged readers. The mainstream media and its corporate sponsors protect their own, and are likely to continue doing so. [RELATED: Find out what else they’re hiding at Censored.news]
Since most news sites depend on Facebook and Google for as much as 80 percent of their traffic, they have almost total control over which information is read and perceived to be accurate. Apparently, ESPN’s blatant altering of the facts was not seen as sufficiently “fake” to warrant censorship, unlike factual, scientifically sound articles about controversial issues like vaccines and GMOs. Those articles get branded as fake science or fake news. [RELATED: Who is really telling the truth? Discover 12 fake news stories stated as fact by the mainstream media.]
While the Tiger-mugshot issue is a relatively small one, it does raise the question: How many other images and facts are mainstream media outlets being allowed to alter?
(Photo credit: Business Insider)