Hootie Johnson, Augusta National Chairman 1998-2006
July 9th, 2002
This was the greatest date in modern sports history, in the often futile war against political correctness. God Bless Hootie Johnson, and let's once again celebrate the day "Fort Hootie Stood Tall" against a media onslaught that was truly unprecedented in scope, purpose, and vitriol.
For a great re-cap of the journalistic overkill that occurred over that summer, and into the spring, read this piece from the American Journalism Review.
Jack Shafer, editor at large and media critic for the online magazine Slate, argued in a November 25 column that "at some point, saturation coverage of a story begins to raise more questions about the newspaper's motives than about the story being covered. The Times reached--and passed--that point this morning." On December 4, the day of the Daily News disclosure, Shafer wrote, "By almost any measure, the paper's coverage of Augusta has shifted from overdrive to overkill."
The New York Observer's Sridhar Pappu wrote in November that USA Today, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have devoted considerable coverage to Augusta National. But "it's been The New York Times that has prodded and pulled the story, refusing to let it slip from the table of conversation."
And Newsweek's Seth Mnookin asserted in a December 9 story that "increasingly, the Times is being criticized for ginning up controversies as much as reporting them out." Mnookin quoted an unnamed Times staffer who contended the Masters coverage was so overheated that Executive Editor Howell Raines was "in danger of losing the building."Howell Raines left the NYT in shambles, in 2003. The paper was hemmoraging money, morale had plummeted, and then there was this guy by the name of Jayson Blair.
You can google him, if your memory is fuzzy.