MIAMI -- The news-gathering landscape has mutated so quickly and so absolutely, at once enhanced and contaminated by the immediacy of everything from texts to Twitter to TMZ, that America's most famous athlete this weekend went from suffering a serious injury in a car accident . . . to suffering a minor injury in a car accident . . . to being "fine," according to his agent . . . to reportedly being unfaithful to his wife . . . to maybe having his face scratched by his angry wife . . . to being rescued by his helpful wife from his crashed car with a golf club . . . to having his car smashed up by his betrayed wife and her golf club . . . to not being any kind of "fine" at all.
Not all of that can be true, obviously, but who cares?
Truth is one of the many things that gets trampled today when boring facts can't keep up with the media's need to feed instantly and the public's appetite to be fed faster than that. Something else that gets lost in all of the subsequent noise is Tiger Woods' silence. We haven't heard from him yet, which doesn't seem to matter one microscopic fraction of one ounce at all.
We get news faster than we ever have. We just can't trust it to be right. So patience, credibility and fairness are among the casualties here, too, at the intersection of celebrity and scandal -- where voyeuristic rubbernecking is fun and nobody feels the need to tap the brakes, and the result is an international icon bleeding on the street while surrounded by more questions than answers.
I don't pretend to know what is and isn't true here. What I do know is that Woods is too famous to have any kind of accident quietly. Once upon a time, in a black-and-white America that was more romantic and less human, Joe DiMaggio could be an epic sports hero in public despite having secret issues with Marilyn Monroe in private. But that day is as dead as both DiMaggio and Monroe. There are too many lights on you these days for an athlete to be around anything shady.
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