All Of ESPN’s Tiger News Created By TMZ, Radar

For now, the maddening tabs have mostly turned away from Tiger Woods and his gaggle of alleged mistresses. Thanks to the gossips, not to mention new and old media, the story’s lifespan was expanded about two weeks too long. And if Brittany Murphy hadn’t died, it might still be getting the pseudo news treatment.

Tiger Woods Yacht Docked At Old Port Cove Marina North Palm Beach Florida

One of the outlets responsible for that unnatural extension is People.com, which reported last Sunday that Woods had taken his yacht to the Bahamas “for a few days” this week with friends and “golfing buddies.”

At the time, I called out the golfing buddies part of the report from Linda Marx, but thanks to two people who have actually staked out the boat 24/7 of late, we now know the entire People report was wrong.

The Palm Beach NEW TIMES reported last night:

Ralph Notaro, a photographer from Coral Springs, says he has spent the past 12 days on a stakeout near the port where Privacy is docked.

People magazine reported on its website that Woods and a group of buddies took off on Privacy on December 19. The story quoted a source that claimed they had even stocked up on provisions at Costco on Northlake Boulevard.

But Notaro was in his boat behind Privacy on that day and said it never moved. The day Woods allegedly set sail was a stormy one, and Notaro recalls riding out the waves on his rented boat.

Lisa Lucas also says she’s been staking out the boat almost daily. Lucas is a freelance writer working for the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS and said she was there the day that Woods supposedly took Privacy out. Lucas called People and said she talked with the author of the article, Linda Marx, who said she witnessed the boat leaving herself.

“There is no way that boat left that morning,” Lucas says. She did see it go out for a two-hour trip four days later, but not with Woods aboard.

Both Notaro and Lucas allegedly called People magazine and pressed for a retraction of the story, only to get the predictable runaround.

I believe the Notaro and Lucas accounts, but it is amusing that they’d be naive enough to think that People would actually entertain their calls and eventually own up to its mistake. As if those two folks don’t know that tabs make things up all the time?

What really makes this story worth noting though is that it involved People Magazine, which is often cited as the most credible of the entertainment media outlets. When a story is only being advanced by anonymous sources, usually the outlets with the most credibility only get cited.

For example, ESPN has only cited one anonymously-sourced report regarding the entire Woods ordeal - an ABCNews.com claim that a divorce between Woods and Elin Nordegren was a done deal (”100%”). (Ironic when you consider endless anon-sourced reports have fueled ESPN’s round-the-clock coverage of the alleged Brad Childress-Brett Favre dispute all week.)

If, like me, you’ve read every shred of coverage on the old media websites throughout the Woods story, you have realize that ESPN’s decision to re-report the ABCNews.com claim looked totally arbitrary. Except for the fact that, in a stunning coincidence, both companies are owned by Disney.

That’s not to single out ESPN, it is just very important to note that in the absence of hard news, coverage of a story like this basically comes down to a beauty contest. If you’re an old media editor deciding what report to run with, and all those reports are anon-sourced, you’re probably going to pick a safe outlet like People over a TMZ or Radar.

Why? Because if People or ABCNews.com has it wrong, you’ll have a better excuse for your  boss than if you took a chance on TMZ or Radar.

Another example: X17Online completely whiffed on a story on Monday, inexplicably claiming that Nordegren was getting a police escort out of her home to an unknown location. I cited the report on SbB, which turned out to be completely wrong.

Next time x17 has an anon-sourced report, you think I’m going to mention it?

That isn’t to say that being right or wrong governs editorial decisions. TMZ and Radar are the only reason the Woods story EXISTS. Their reporting, mostly anon-sourced, has been correct the majority of the time. But most importantly, TMZ made the leap after the car accident to Elin attacking Woods - which is why Woods is where he is today. And of course, we now know that TMZ nailed it.

What we’ve witnessed with the Woods story the past month is precisely what I said in the post about TMZSports.com. Because ESPN is financially (and otherwise) entangled with the subjects it covers, it has no intention of reporting embarrassing news about its partners - unless it absolutely has to. (See hard news on Woods created by TMZ.)

Every single piece of hard news that the old media has reported on the Woods story, Jaimee Grubbs voicemail, Woods’ press releases and sponsors backing off, ALL OF IT, was originally generated by TMZ and Radar.

What has ESPN and other old media given us? Nothing, except a single regurgitation of anon-sourced ABCNews.com report.

TMZ ain’t the NEW YORK TIMES, but after watching old media and ESPN completely pass on finding out the truth with Woods - while battering us with innuendo-fueled Brett Favre-Brad Childress intrigue all week - TMZSports.com can’t start soon enough.