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Bruce Dowbiggin

Testing! Testing!: The PGA Tour Has A Dead Parrot Problem

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Jupiter, Fla.: In case you haven’t noticed, the PGA Tour is doing its rendition of the Dead Parrot sketch from Monty Python.

C: “Look, my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.”

O: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’!”

A visit to the Cognizant Tournament of the Palm Beaches (Honda ended its 40-year sponsorship this year) showed a business struggling to respond to its fan base and its competitor— the LIV Tour, three years after the Great Golf Schism. Around us, those fans who could be bothered watching the golf, not each other, were asking, “Who’s that guy?” as unknown player after player teed up his ball.

Make no mistake, a long shot is a popular story. But the Tour this year has been like golf’s witness protection plan. Canadians loved Nick Taylor’s win in extra holes at Phoenix, but he’s hardly a household name in the U.S.. A steady diet of first-time winners— Matthew Pavon, Nick Dunlap—veterans left for dead— Grayson Murray— and guys sharpening their games for the majors— Hideki Matsuyama, Chris Kirk—  is not making LIV shake in its Skechers.

The problems start with the fields for the Tour’s events after last winter’s  shocking defection of Jon Rahm, arguably the world’s top player. While events on the West Coast swing had a scattering of the remaining top names— Scotty Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Victor Hovland, Colin Morikawa— the Cognizant had only Rory McIlroy as an elite player from the depleted 2024 card holders. The draw sheet looked like a Xmas tree they’d started decorating about 90 percent up the branches.

Whatever star power NBC had for their coverage went into the water on the 16th Hole Saturday with McIlroy’s errant tee shot on the par four. That left it to 2019 Open Championship winner Shane Lowry to carry the recognition segment of the field. That was before a torrential tropical storm delayed play for  four hours on Sunday, pushing the finish to Monday morning.

What made the tepid field so disappointing for fans is that so many of the top pros live in the same area code as the PGA National layout— and many of the non-attendees will play a private Member/ Guest event Monday at the nearby prestigious Seminole Golf Club. (If you want to know what McIlroy was sprinting to finish in the dark Sunday, it’d because he plays Wirth his Dad at that event.)

Whispers suggest that the absence of top names at their event contributed to Honda pulling the plug. If you talk to those close to the Tour, there remains a bitterness among players who stayed loyal to the Tour when LIV threw around crazy money. Assured that they stood for integrity, unlike the Saudi-backed LIV upstart, they’d be rewarded. Only to have the Tour stab them in the back by secretly negotiating  a peace pact with the hated Greg Norman/ Phil Mickelson operation.

As well, having long been told by the Tour management there was no money for changes, the LIV challenge “suddenly” freed up more money. The structure of who plays and for how much was given a radical shift. Just don’t ask fans to explain the Player Impact Program, the new Earnings Assurance Program or the designated play-in tournaments. There’s a lot of Trust Us in the new reality.

One has to only watch a deflated McIroy, the Tour’s staunch defender, to see the embarrassment he feels (he’s now pulled back from the Tour’s governing structure). LIV member Taylor Gooch wondered aloud if a first Masters win for McIlroy would come with an asterisk with so many LIV stars not competing.

McIlroy needs no cap days, but it’s now clear that others who stuck around missed the money dangled by the Saudis, and no one is telling them how they’ll make it up. This disparity was reportedly one issue behind the meldtdown of Team U.S. at last September’s Ryder Cup.

For Cognizant, an IT company that has reportedly signed a multi-year commitment to sponsor the event in place of Honda, it must be a little humbling to see the Tour unable to produce a field worthy of their investment. And players sprinting in darkness to finish rounds so they can make other obligations.

This attrition of the Tour’s hold on the sport might be understandable were LIV grabbing the spotlight of golf fans. But LIV has only a minor TV network in the U.S., a jarring presentation format and very little word of mouth. Joaquin Niemann has won the past two events in the middle of the night North American time. Who knew? But he won’t be at the Masters.

Not that it’s all beer and skittles for the LIV defectors. As the Official World Golf Rankings do not recognize LIV events, players like Sergio Garcia and the South African players on LIV are rapidly losing their world ranking points to get into the major tournaments. A host of players are now scrambling to find a “side door” into the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA. Those tournaments are all over the world, going from this week in Jeddah, SAU, to next week in Hong Kong. (Seems like melatonin is in everyone’s bag.)

It’s a sad state for golf fans being denied the best players on a weekly basis or—  even more disappointing— at the majors. There is little indication what format the so-called settlement will entail when it’s finally hammered out between the Tour and LIV. But one thing they can agree on is that none of this is doing anything to please fans or sponsors of the sport.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

OJ Trial: How It Launched Cable News And Destroyed MLK’s Legacy

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It was the launch pad for CNN. The demise of Martin Luther King’s dream and Ground Zero for racial reparations in America. The O.J. Simpson trial in 1994 is now recognized as the end of civility in the United States. And the beginning of DEI.

Simpson, who died last week of cancer at age 76, was the centre of the story and, as we know now, the least of its elements. Any doubts that festered about his capability to commit a brutal murder of his wife and a friend were quashed when Simpson used his liberty to shake down a memorabilia salesman, using a gun and some muscle to get the job done.

He wandered the world before and after the eight-years-plus prison term, a ghost figure shunned and demonized by almost all. His death brought brief mentions of the spectacular career in sports and media he threw away. But Dave Chapelle sums up this pathetic figure in his stand-up.

While the entire murder/ trial/ incarceration tanked O.J.’s reputation forever it was the making of CNN, which— until the trial— had mostly been a channel you watched while killing time in airports. And, by extension, the shocking not guilty decision was the birth of the cable-news phenomenon.

Instead of investigating plane crashes and propping up bloviating politicians CNN discovered the magic of a live courtroom drama featuring one of the most famous men in America, football great and movie punchline O.J. Blowing out the concept of structured programming, CNN dedicated endless consecutive daytime hours to testimony, linked by a cast of legal figures like Roger Cossack, Jeffrey Toobin and Greta Van Susteren parsing the evidence..

When court broke for the day, CNN went full panel, rounding up ex-cops, ambulance-chasing lawyers, California psychos and political hacks to analyze the day’s events like they were John Madden analyzing Peyton Manning. People tantalized by the Bronco chase and the bloody glove couldn’t get enough of Kato Kaelin.

CNN was aided by Simpson’s defence team which trashed the idea of evidence, turning the trial instead into a referendum on the bumbling L.A. police. Soon everyone knew that detective Mark Fuhrman was a stone-cold racist and Phillip Vanatter couldn’t protect evidence if he tried. And don’t get us started on the quivering figure of Judge Lance Ito, who was bulldozed by Simpson’s crack team of Johnnie Cochrane, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Shapiro and Robert Kardashian.

The apogee of the trial was, of course, coarse actor O.J. not being able to put on the glove (if it don’t fit you must acquit). The stunned look on prosecutor Marcia Clark’s face was mint. For the hyper-liberal, mostly black  L.A. jury that was all they needed to cement the not-guilty verdict. CNN reverberated for weeks on the sugar high from the trial.

White America was largely disgusted with the verdict and said so. Prompting CNN to allege a vast right-wing conspiracy that would end in George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Soon, everyone was in on the game of choosing sides, with MSNBC And FOX News Channel going 24/7 on the racial divide in society. Pretty soon, late-night comics morphed into shills for the Left and against Bush and then Trump. Comedy was deader than O.J.’s victims.

Network profits were lucrative, however, as Roger Ailes (FOX News) and the heads of the Big Three TV news departments whipped the vote for their side. Sadly for CNN, abandoning their role as purveyor of O.J. porn for guileless wind therapist for the Obama Left was not a winner with audiences. The rabid radicals disappeared for MSNBC and the centrists just started watching Netflix. From creators of the TV news cycle on the fly, CNN is now a lame version of its old self, a tepid third in the ratings as it seeks to find a new identity.

The other big loser in the O.J. story was the legacy of Martin Luther King. While gormless lefties still repeat his pleas for a colour-blind society, the reality is that, since the OJ decision, black America has decided it can go its own way, thank you, funded by guilty white liberals and reparations from the Civil War.

In June of 2016— two decades after the Trial of the century— a documentary on the trials stirred the passions again. We observed, “King was predicting a land where colour no longer matters. A land where character and steadfastness and achievement are the highest goals. Today, the proud boast of Obama and the progressives is that everything is about colour, not character. Everyone is about check lists of the aggrieved, talking points of the hard-done-by, education camps for liberal guilt. Growth cannot be made unless it’s as the expense of someone else we hate.

Simpson was a man King might have admired in some ways, even if the ESPN producers dismissed him in their zeal to reinforce the grievance culture. O.J. had no time for those who chose to cut themselves off in their culture, who were marinating in their bitterness over racial bigotry. He chose to be measured by something larger than colour.

That he failed is more of a mark on his character than his colour.” So OJ has that going for him as he checks into his suite in Hades.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book Deal With It: The Trades That Stunned The NHL And Changed hockey is now available on Amazon. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his previous book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Sorry, Justin. Social Media Won’t Give You A Mulroney Epitaph

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The polls suck. His party is restless watching his constant gaffes. His NDP allies are similarly hoping he quits before he brings down their party, too. The public now laughs at his Happy Ways demeanour and lush living on the public dime.

It seems inevitable that Justin Trudeau is at the end of his runway as prime minister of Canada. If the polls are right, he could experience one of the greatest electoral repudiations when the federal election finally happens. Just as he replaced the dour technician Stephen Harper, Trudeau will be dismissed by the public, seen as yesterday’s man.

In desperation Trudeau has tried labelling his nemesis Pierre Poilievre as a Trump wannabe, a divisive alt-right force who would reverse the generous graft he’d bestowed on Canadians. His paid media have picked up the theme calling Poilievre’s strategy “shameful”, “cynical” and his “scorched-earth approach” is “contributing to a breakdown in overall faith in the system”. You go with that.

What makes them mad are Poilievre’s insouciant takedowns of Liberal hacks and media flacks, best epitomized by the apple-eating destruction of a lazy B.C. journalist out for a cheap score to raise his profile. A host of self-appointed press figures lost their minds. “You are not supposed to treat interviewers this way!” Since that moment, Poilievre has repeated the formula on cabinet ministers and played-out press figures.

Leaving Liberals and their wind therapists in the press to wonder what will be Skippy’s legacy in ten or fifteen years if he can’t control the messaging? Most look at the recent funeral for Brian Mulroney and the forgiving attitude from his former enemies toward Mulroney. Indeed, those who watched Wayne Gretzky and others eulogize the 18th PM of Canada as a statesman assume that this charity will eventually be extended to Trudeau.

Sure, Justin told the UN his citizens are genocidal, installed felons to cabinet posts, applauded Nazis in Parliament  and showered his pals with graft. But wasn’t Mulroney also found counting bribe money from paper bags in a hotel room? Surely the charity shown to Mulroney will also be extended to Trudeau in the fullness of time?

It would be if the media/ government apparatus that existed in the Mulroney 1980s were the ones writing the epitaphs. “Let bygones be bygones”. But this fantasy scenario misses the collapse in authority suffered by that media/ government apparatus the past decade. A collapse Poilievre has duly noted.

While they rail against Poilievre’s dismissive attitude toward them, the Conservative leader understands the new dynamic where voters— especially the young— get their information from social media, not the scrum theatre of the past, engineered by politicians and the people who followed them. If Poilievre appears dismissive of their game it’s because he knows they’re irrelevant to him.

This outrage from the Family Compact comes from people like the self-obsessed MSNBC staff who whined like babies at the thought of a GOP voice on their shows. An attitude parroted by their Canadian cousins fed money by the ruling class. No wonder Trudeau is rushing through laws to censor the internet. X hates him, and he knows it.

After years of toeing the line, however, influential journalists are suddenly recognizing the damage done by their obsessions— and the peril in which  their business finds itself. NPR Senior business editor Uri Berliner shocked many with his confession that Trump-obsessed NPR “lost its way when it started telling listeners how to think.

“Today, those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population”. A segment so deranged by Trump’s election in 2016 that it fed phoney stories about Russiagate and Hunter Biden’s son’s laptop to its audience over Trump’s term. NPR’s managing editor for news dismissed revelations over Hunter spilling the beans on Dad: “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.” We know now this senior journalist helped bury a generational story.

Getting it deliberately wrong is bad enough, continued Berliner,. “What’s worse is to pretend it never happened, to move on with no mea culpas, no self-reflection. Especially when you expect high standards of transparency from public figures and institutions, but don’t practice those standards yourself. That’s what shatters trust and engenders cynicism about the media.”

As Berliner suggests, a population that understands the massive Covid deception is now dumping the news sources they long trusted. Hollywood, too, is reaping the whirlwind in cables cut from the nightly Colbert Chorus of Insanity. A worried NY Times has tried a limited mea culpa on overselling the pandemic (one of their reporters claimed in 2022 that Covid had “racist” roots), but the stain of its irresponsible censoring of any critics endures.

In Canada, no one at CBC, CTV, the Globe & Mail or the Toronto Star is even remotely close to owning up to their role in creating panic over Covid. (One prominent reporter received the Order of Canada for his support for lockdowns, vaccines). They have ceased reprinting Trudeaupian propaganda on the virus and the vaccines. But the silence on their enthusiastic support for closing of schools, the isolation of the dying and the firing of those reluctant to try untested vaccines speaks louder than any mealy-mouthed correction.

So the next time the prime minister and his media pals try to portray the earnest— sometimes plodding— messaging of Poilievre as a new Dark Age, consider the source. And then move into the future. Because it won’t be written anymore by the people who assume their infallibility.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

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