The LIV Golf League has come under sharp criticism in recent months due to its ties to Saudi Arabia, but many U.S. golfers who have participated in the organization’s tournaments continue to defend their decision.
Last month, Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley attempted to mend the rift by announcing that golfers who left the PGA but otherwise qualified for the Masters tournament would be allowed to participate this year.
That group includes Patrick Reed, who is now threatening to take CNN to court over its coverage of the situation. Specifically, his attorneys cited a recent segment of “The Lead” during which host Jake Tapper and sports broadcaster Bob Costas discussed the controversial golf league.
I’m excited to announce that I have joined LIV Golf, and being part of this new and innovative league. I look forward to growing the game of golf and bringing even more entertainment to golf fans across the world. Can’t wait to tee it up in Portland! pic.twitter.com/13XGV6jvaY
— Patrick Reed (@PReedGolf) June 11, 2022
“This widely viewed broadcast in Florida, the nation, and internationally, was not only defamatory but also designed to incite ridicule, hatred, and violence against LIV Golf players, such as my client Patrick Reed, a world champion professional golfer, by publishing that he takes ‘blood money’ from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy twenty-two (22) years ago,” a legal document claims.
Reed’s legal team also references a Bloomberg article referenced in the broadcast that was published “with reckless disregard for the truth.”
As the document further asserted: “Mr. Reed is not a taker of ‘blood money,’ as he simply plays on a golf tour financed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which also owns large shares in a myriad of American companies such as Disney, Boeing, J.P. Morgan Chase, Amazon, Blackrock Inc., Microsoft, and many others.”
In order to avoid a lawsuit seeking damages “well in excess of $450,000,000,” the legal team is calling on the network, Tapper, and Costas to publicly apologize to Reed and retract all related coverage of the story on the CNN website, streaming services, and other platforms.
The document gave the network five days to comply, but a CNN spokesperson appeared to rule out any such on-air apology.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit, whose aim is to chill free speech and intimidate journalists from covering important stories about the Saudi government and the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament,” the source said. “CNN will aggressively defend its reporting, which did not even mention the plaintiff in its coverage.”