“We’re not taking sides in this,” said Tucker Carlson on his popular Fox News show last night, “but one of the biggest controversies in sports in many years is taking place between the PGA Tour and an upstart tour called LIV.”
Carlson then offered up an interview with LIV tour CEO and golf legend Greg Norman.
“Why is it so offensive to some American golf fans that you’re doing here?” the Tucker Carlson Tonight host asked.
“I don’t know. I really don’t really care, quite honestly. I really just want to grow the game of golf,” replied Norman. “We at LIV see that opportunity not just for the men but for the women. We at LIV see it for NCAA and younger generations. We at LIV see it as a pathway to opportunities for these kids to experience a new world out there. LIV is the future of golf.”
One person who would like to answer to Carlson’s query is Terry Strada, of 9/11 Familes United. CNN’s Oliver Darcy wrote in its Reliable Sources column, “A spokesperson for 9/11 Families United told me that the group reached out to Carlson’s team to see if they would be interested in having a 9/11 family on the program, given Norman’s appearance. But I’m told that Carlson never responded.”
Strada herself responded to Carlson’s sitdown with Norman on Twitter writing, “@TuckerCarlson did you just say re: LIV Golf you’re NOT taking sides? Great to hear, I imagine your producer will be calling me then to come on & talk about 9/11 families side???”
Deadline reached out to Fox News and will add any comment received.
One reason many are criticizing the LIV tour is because it is backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). The fund is which is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler and the man the CIA says is behind the grisly 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was an outspoken critic of the Kingdom.
Families of 9/11 victims are not framing the controversy as LIV vs. PGA, but the U.S. vs. a backer of terrorism. They take umbrage at the direct line to Saudi Arabia because the 9/11 report from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States “identifies Saudi Arabia as the primary source of al-Qaeda funding.” Also, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
In a statement ahead of last weekend’s LIV golf event at Donald Trump’s Bedminster, NJ course, 9/11 Families United accused those associated with the tour “of ‘sportswashing’ the Kingdom’s reputation by playing in another tournament on U.S. soil.” The also noted that “Sadly, this new tournament takes place 50 miles from Ground Zero.”
Norman argued that dozens of PGA Tour sponsors do $40 billion worth of business with Saudi Arabia each year. He also said that “The LPGA Tour is sponsored by [Saudi Oil giant] ARAMCO…The largest sponsor of women’s golf in the world is ARAMCO,” likely referring to the company’s sponsorship of the ARAMCO Team Series, which is sanctioned by the Ladies Pro Tour, the web site of which says it is “a joint venture collaboration between Ladies European Tour and the Ladies Professional Golf Association…to increase playing opportunities for female golfers in Europe.”