Golfweek editor out due to cover

January 18, 2008 11:04:52 AM PST
Golfweek magazine replaced the editor responsible for illustrating the current cover with a noose and apologized Friday for its depiction of a Golf Channel anchor's use of "lynch" in a comment about Tiger Woods."We apologize for creating this graphic cover that received extreme negative reaction from consumers, subscribers and advertisers across the country," Turnstile Publishing Co. president William P. Kupper Jr. said. "We were trying to convey the controversial issues with a strong and provocative graphic image. It is now obvious that the overall reaction to our cover deeply offended many people. For that, we are deeply apologetic."

Turnstile is the parent company of Golfweek.

The company said Dave Seanor, the vice president and editor of Golfweek, has been replaced immediately by Jeff Babineau.

A copy of the Jan. 19 cover was removed from the magazine's Web site Friday morning.

Kelly Tilghman, in her second year as anchor of PGA Tour coverage on Golf Channel, was suspended for two weeks because of comments she made during the second round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, when she and analyst Nick Faldo were discussing young challengers to Woods.

Faldo suggested that "to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up (on him) for a while."

"Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman said, laughing.

Seanor said in an interview Thursday night that he took responsibility for the cover, which showed a noose against a purple sky and the title, "Caught in a Noose." The subtitle said, "Tilghman slips up, and Golf Channel can't wriggle free."

The magazine devoted four pages of news and commentary on the topic, including a column on the back page supporting Tilghman and asking that the controversy be kept in context.

In an editorial, the magazine explained why it felt the Tilghman story deserved so much attention. It was accompanied by a cartoon that showed the Rev. Al Sharpton, who demanded Tilghman be fired, holding a noose and offering it to a pair of Golf Channel employees staring in a hole of thin ice, presumably where Tilghman had sunk.

Reaction to the noose drew a harsh rebuke from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

"Clearly, what Kelly said was inappropriate and unfortunate, and she obviously regrets her choice of words," Finchem said in a statement. "But we consider Golfweek's imagery of a swinging noose on its cover to be outrageous and irresponsible. It smacks of tabloid journalism. It was a naked attempt to inflame and keep alive an incident that was heading to an appropriate conclusion."

The tour issued a statement Friday that said Finchem's comments were "not a call to action, but rather a response to an inquiry and an expression of the tour's dissatisfaction with Golfweek's choice of a cover image."

The tour said Golfweek's decision on its editorial leadership was an internal matter. reported Thursday that Jack Peter, chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame, said that tour officials had told the magazine it might withdraw $50,000 in advertisements for the World Golf Village.

"Jack was not speaking on behalf of the PGA Tour," spokesman Ty Votaw said Friday. "I can categorically tell you the PGA Tour has not threatened any advertising pull."

It was not clear if Seanor had been fired.

Babineau, 45, has been with Golfweek for nine years, including roles as editor, deputy editor and senior writer.

"We know we have a job ahead of us to re-earn the trust and confidence of many loyal readers," Babineau said. "Our staff is very passionate about the game. Our wish is that one regretful error does not erase more than 30 years of service we've dedicated to this industry."