Sorry, on this one, it’s tough. But we’ll try.
CBS golf analyst David Feherty, a native of Northern Ireland and current resident of Dallas, used his freedom of speech this month. It got him named “Worst Person in the World” during Friday’s MSNBC “Countdown.”
“There is free speech and then there is abuse of free speech and when you start predicting the hypothetical murder by the U.S. military of two democratically elected officials of this country, it’s not exactly rocket science to tell which this is,” said host Keith Olbermann. “Even Feherty should be able to figure it out.”
Feherty has. With our without bikini wax or body bags that have come before him.
Sunday, Feherty apologized to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for a joke he made in a Dallas magazine. He probably didn’t have to. But he probably did have to at the same time.
Feherty was one of five Dallas residents asked to write for “D Magazine” (full column linked here) on former President George W. Bush moving to Dallas. Near the end of his piece, Feherty wrote:
“From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this though. Despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.”
This is from someone who has made several trips to Iraq to visit with U.S. troops. He has created a foundation to help wounded U.S. soldiers. Yet, if D Magazine felt it so caustic, why did it print the column? Because it would generate dialogue? We hope so.
This wasn’t like something that came out of Feherty’s mouth, on the air, and he couldn’t recapture. This was a calculated, thought-out, somewhat brilliant observation. Whether your politics agrees with it, the analogy was obvious. And he can make those kind of remarks in this country. That’s what he’s paid to do.
But even he had to be responsible for what he said. And he’s taken ownership.
This, after the Web-based non-profit Media Matters for America (www.mediamatters.org) demanded an apology after Feherty’s column was read during Friday’s broadcast of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” by guest host Mark Davis.
In his apology statement, Feherty said: “This passage was a metaphor meant to describe how American troops felt about our 43rd president. In retrospect, it was inappropriate and unacceptable, and has clearly insulted Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, and for that, I apologize. As for our troops, they know I will continue to do as much as I can for them both at home and abroad.”
CBS Sports added in a statement: It was “an unacceptable attempt at humor and is not in any way condoned, endorsed or approved” by the network. The PGA Tour also criticized him for an attempt at humor that “went over the line.”
Feherty will still probably be on CBS’ coverage of the PGA Tour when the Valero Texas Open is played in San Antonio this coming weekend. At least, we hope so.
The sport of golf needs the voice of Feherty. And Johnny Miller. As much as the NBA needs a Charles Barkley — someone who gets away with far too much, but still leaves a void when it’s silenced.
We’ll have Feherty’s back. On every front here.
Just as we did last week (linked here), which bears repeating:
Again, Tiger Woods said of that exchange, a couple of days later, and before The Players Championship: “Well, it’s typical. David kind of — he kind of lost his train of thought (laughter). He kind of goes off in tangents, and that’s certainly one of the tangents he went off on. I know David has been a good friend of mine over the years, and I know what he was trying to say, but it didn’t come across that way. But I thought it was actually pretty funny. It was good.”
That’s the charm of Feherty. And the uniqueness that can’t be squashed.
It comes from the ability in this country, as well, to act first and apologize later. He has. So let’s move on. Even when the news of the tragic story comes out today of the five U.S. soldiers who were shot to death by a fellow soldier who opened fire on them at a base in Baghdad.