When it comes to breaking news in the media industry, how the information is released to the public is often as important as what that information actually is. It was no different on Tuesday morning when the sporting world was rocked by the news that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf had quite suddenly put aside their differences and agreed to merge. This was not leaked to any one person or entity dedicated to covering golf. The report didn't come from an outlet you'd expect to break news of this caliber.
No, the first outlet to report the PGA-LIV merger news was CNBC. Given they immediately had interviews lined up with PGA commissioner Jay Monahan and head of the Saudi Arabia Public Fund Yasir Al-Rumayyan, they didn't just get lucky and stumble upon a massive scoop. It was given to them by the parties involved. And it's all you really need to know about how they wanted the rollout handled.
Specifically, this news went to CNBC because it would be viewed through a business lens, not a sports lens. It's two companies merging, not two sports leagues merging. As such the questions Monahan and Al-Rumayyan received had nothing to do with golf and everything to do with the financials behind the decision. CNBC anchors aren't interested in how Tour players will receive this news. They want to know how the business will benefit.
That is the line of questioning the PGA and LIV wanted. They arranged things so that it would be the only line of questioning they received on the day the news was revealed. It was premeditated, which doesn't mean anything on its own because of course it was. But when paired with more reports emerging by the minute that Tour players had absolutely no idea this was coming... The PGA looks really bad. They had enough time to get their ducks in a row and avoid getting questioned about the golf side of things but didn't bother to even inform the people who will be most affected.
I don't think any of the decision-makers here were delusional enough to believe this would be taken positively from a PR perspective. They knew many people, from the players to the fans, would not like it one bit. Instead of facing the music, doing a standard press conference and taking questions from reporters who have been on this beat since Day 1, they tried to duck all the heat by giving the scoop and exclusives to CNBC. Monahan in particular apparently couldn't summon the courage to face his players and instead sent them a prewritten statement after the news broke that barely contains any additional insight beyond the press release he gave to the general public.
None of it is very surprising. All of it is very disappointing.