SBD/August 21, 2012/Media

Augusta National Inviting Female Members Treated As Top News Story By Networks

Augusta National's decision to admit female members was top headline on news shows
The news about Augusta National Golf Club inviting Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore to become its first female members was one of the top headlines on all three broadcast network morning shows, with "CBS This Morning," "GMA" and "Today" all airing reports within the opening 15 minutes. ABC’s Steve Osunsami reported live from Augusta and then aired a taped report which included an interview with former National Council of Women's Organizations Chair Martha Burk and USA Today’s Christine Brennan. Osunsami said the issue over IBM CEO Virginia Rometty not being invited to join Augusta National may have “made the difference.” When that story “blew up in April, it put a lot of pressure on the club” ("GMA," ABC, 8/21). CBS aired a taped report from the net’s Armen Keteyian, which included an interview with Burk. Following the report, a taped interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose and golfer Rory McIlroy aired, with McIlroy saying, “It’s a great thing for golf. It’s a great thing for Augusta. I think it’s something they should have done a while ago, but it’s great to see.” Rose: “I assume this is just the beginning of it too, but they wanted to do it on their own time.” McIlroy said, “I think people have to respect that” ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 8/21). "Today" aired a live report from Augusta from NBC’s Janet Shamlian, who said a “big barrier fell here at Augusta yesterday in what many say is a move long overdue.” The report included interviews with Golf Digest Senior Editor Stina Sternberg, Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner and Charlotte Observer columnist Ron Green Sr. During the “Today’s Professionals” segment in the show's second hour, NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman said this “is not about girls playing golf." Snyderman: "This is about women having access to power. This is where deals are made.” Deutsch Inc. Chair Donny Deutsch: “They were going to start losing sponsors. This was a dollars and cents (decision)” ("Today," NBC, 8/21).

NATIONAL PRESENCE: All three national news broadcasts last night also aired reports on Augusta National. NBC’s “Nightly News” first reported on the story at 8:28 (eight minutes, 28 seconds) into the broadcast, with 2:23 of total coverage. Sternberg said, “It’s like the Berlin Wall of discrimination finally coming down in golf.” NBC's Lisa Myers noted that a “club insider said that Rice and Moore have been under consideration for a number of years, but that the club was determined to admit women on its own terms and timetable.” Burk: "This is about access to power” ("Nightly News," NBC, 8/20). CBS’ “Evening News” first reported on Augusta at 8:34 into the telecast, with 2:50 of total coverage. CBS’ Norah O’Donnell said, “The Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia made history today” ("Evening News," CBS, 8/20). ABC’s “World News” first reported on Augusta at 11:09 into the broadcast with 1:53 of total coverage. ABC's Osunsami said the “biggest glass ceiling in sports was smashed.” Brennan said, “This is not just about playing golf. This is about the corridors of power in our country” ("World News," ABC, 8/20).

LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: The decision also drew several mentions on the late-night talk shows. CBS’ David Letterman said, “Here's kind of a history making thing that I think we should care about, probably none of us do care about. But we're going to pretend that this is an important milestone in American culture. Two women have been admitted to membership at the Augusta National Golf Club. ... It’s a very important symbolic token gesture that really means nothing. But they did release this announcement. Take a look.” A clip was aired that showed scenes from the golf course and images of Rice and Moore with the narrator saying, “Okay, we’ve admitted two women and one of them is African-American. Now leave us alone. Augusta National Golf Club. We are golf” (“Late Show,” CBS, 8/20). NBC’s Jay Leno said, “Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters, announced that today for the first time ever, they're admitting females. … The two women are Condoleezza Rice and a banker named Darla Moore, marking the first time in the club's 80-year history that you don't have to have a member to be a member" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 8/20).
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