A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
The LIV Golf event that is set to commence at Donald Trump’s Bedminster club on Friday is generating more controversy by the day. On Tuesday, the National Press Club added its voice to the mix, saying in a no-holds-barred statement that it is “revolted” by the forthcoming affair and hopes that it fails.
A quick recap for those who might need it: LIV is the Saudi-backed golf league that has upended the sport by challenging the PGA’s dominance. It has lured in athletes to participate in its events with huge paydays. But it has been the subject of significant controversy given that it is funded by the Saudis who have an atrocious record on human rights.
“We call on all Americans to see this unsavory attempt to minimize the grisly bone-saw attack on Washington Post opinion writer Jamal Khashoggi for what it is – an attempt to sweep under the rug a brutal state-sponsored murder,” the National Press Club said in its blistering statement. “We call on people of conscience to reject this tournament. Don’t wait. Do not watch it on television. Let it fail.”
The National Press Club blasted Trump for hosting the event at Bedminster. It said that Trump’s role managed to make the event “even more revolting” because it reminded the group that the former President worked to downplay Khashoggi’s killing.
The journalism advocacy organization continued, “We note that at one of LIV’s first news conferences their officials shouted down a question from an AP reporter and escorted him from the room saying that he was being rude. That is how the LIV episode started. They silenced the press. Again.”
And the National Press Club concluded its statement discouraging PR firms from doing business with LIV Golf. “We note that LIV is currently seeking representation by a public relations firm to make the slaughter of a journalist more acceptable to the American public through golf,” the org said. “We call on public relations firms, many of whom employ former journalists, to reject this blood money. We understand that clients need representation, but it seems reasonable to draw the line at clients that use a bone saw on a journalist. We hope the prospective PR firm thinks very carefully before agreeing to work for LIV.”
On Tuesday, a group of 9/11 survivors blasted the tour, saying in a press conference that they are “appalled” by the “offensive, disrespectful, and hurtful” event taking place at Bedminster. 9/11 Families United chair Terry Strada said that LIV Golf “is not about sports or good competition among worthy competitors.” Instead, Strada said that at its heart “it is a multibillion-dollar public relations stunt bought and paid for by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” CNN’s Liam Reilly and Ben Morse have more here…
In an interview published by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Trump said that he believed the public had lost interest in the death of Khashoggi. “I can say that from the standpoint of Khashoggi, that has died down so much,” Trump told the newspaper. “It really seems to have totally died down.”
“Nobody has asked me that question in months,” Trump added.
Trump said, however, that he believes LIV has generated “great publicity for Saudi Arabia.” He said in his estimation that the country “deserves that” publicity “for what they’re doing” with the LIV Golf league “because it’s become very exciting.” Trump said he thinks the PR has been “worth billions of dollars…”
I checked in with LIV on Tuesday evening to see if it had any comment on the National Press Club’s statement. I didn’t hear back. But a spokesperson for LIV told CNN, in regards to criticism from 9/11 survivors, “As we have said all along, these families have our deepest sympathy. While some may not agree, we believe golf is a force for good around the world.” 9/11 families are planning to protest in Bedminster this week…