A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Richard Winton, the prominent law enforcement reporter for the Los Angeles Times, was sitting in his home office late on Tuesday morning when he saw a tweet fly across his screen. The tweet was from KFI-AM’s Steven Gregory who was reporting that Tiger Woods had been injured in a serious crash. “I immediately started chasing it and confirmed it within a minute after seeing the tweet,” Winton told me on Tuesday night. From there, Winton went on to largely dominate the story.
As he watched the arial shots of the crash on his 32-inch office television, Winton noticed something odd. Authorities had said they had rescued Woods using the “jaws of life,” but Winton noticed that the marks one would see on a vehicle after the use of such tools were not there. Instead, it appeared that authorities had extracted Woods from the windshield. “You can ascertain quite a lot from the aerial video,” Winton explained to me. He reached out to sources quickly and confirmed his suspicions.
Throughout the day, Winton left his competitors chasing his scoops — all of which were ultimately confirmed by authorities. Winton was first to report, for instance, that alcohol did not play an apparent role in the crash. And he was first to report that the car appeared to have been speeding. It was a case study in how plugged in local reporters are to their communities and how quickly they can obtain and disseminate accurate info on major stories…
“Much more transparent”
Winton is a veteran reporter in L.A. who has covered all sorts of stories. So I was curious what about the Woods story stood out to him. When I asked, he didn’t waste a moment in answering. “This was a very clear case of [authorities] giving us a lot of information early and being very clear,” he said. Winton noted that the L.A. Sheriff’s Department almost immediately ID’d Woods as having been the person involved in the crash. “Usually it is often hours and hours,” Winton noted, explaining that officials often “take a while” to offer such information on the record.
Winton also pointed to the press conference that the L.A. Sheriff’s Department held. “If you saw that press conference — very unusual and much more transparent,” he said. “Not only did they provide the higher-ups where they put out the figureheads, they actually put out the deputy who was the first responder and he described the scene.”
Golf Digest thrust into spotlight
Woods had been in California for a Discovery shoot with Golf Digest and Golf TV. “He was filming his latest series with us yesterday which will see him giving on-course instruction to a number of celebrities including Jada Pinkett Smith, Dwyane Wade and David Spade,” the outlet said in a statement. “He was due to continue filming with us today. Everyone at Discovery and GOLFTV is saddened by the news and is wishing for his speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tiger, his family and his team.” Tuesday’s scheduled filming included Woods with LA Chargers QB Justin Herbert a source told CNN…
Trump calls into Fox
Trump can’t quit Fox and Fox can’t quite quit Trump. Phoning into “Fox News Primetime,” hosted this week by Katie Pavlich, Trump commented on Woods’ crash and wished him well. Nothing remarkable emerged from the interview, but it was striking to see Trump call into Fox and comment on the latest story in the news — just like he did last week with Rush Limbaugh’s death and like he did long before he became president. And as WaPo’s Paul Farhi questioned, “Wasn’t Trump mad at Fox News? Between Rush Limbaugh and Tiger Woods, he’s now appeared twice…”