National Press Club President Jen Judson condemned The CW’s decision to broadcast the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Tournament on its network in a statement released Friday.
Judson said the organization was ‘deeply disappointed’ in the multi-year agreement that was reached between LIV Golf and The CW, which is primarily owned by Nextar Media Group, to televise 14 events for LIV’s second season.
“We are deeply disappointed that a company that makes money from news like Nexstar would agree to participate in such a shameful PR stunt as LIV Golf,’ Judson said in the statement.
The television contract is the first of its kind for LIV Golf, which continues to be mired in controversy.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth investment fund of Saudi Arabia and one of the largest in the world, has backed and is financing LIV Golf Investments, the parent company of LIV Golf. As the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman is the head of the PIF. According to a declassified U.S. intelligence report released in February 2021, Salman approved an operation ‘to capture or kill’ Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018.
The Saudi government is accused of other human rights violations and has invested in Western athletic opportunities in an apparent attempt to improve its image, a practice known as ‘sportswashing.’
‘We are left to wonder what if anything Nexstar stands for,’ Judson said in the statement. ‘You cannot have a brand in news and act this way. Saudi Arabia murdered a Washington Post journalist and cut him up with a bone saw.’
Judson also urged Nextar employees to push back against the deal and for the company to ‘cancel their bloody golf show.’
Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) wants to use golf to get Americans to forget about murder,’ she continued. ‘We must not let them get away with it. We call on Nexstar employees – many of whom are journalists – to demand management explain why they have partnered with the murderers of a journalist.
‘And if they don’t drop the program here is what we can do: don’t watch it; and write each sponsor asking them not to sponsor.”
The first rounds of the LIV Golf schedule will take place Feb. 24-26 and are set to be available to stream on the CW app only. The second and third rounds will be broadcast on the CW network as well as the app on Saturdays and Sundays, per the initial announcment.
The National Press Club is a worldwide professional organization for journalists and has 3,000 members representing nearly every major news organization, according to its website.