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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Reactions to Tiger's Surprise Announcement

Aired December 11, 2009 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JIM MORET, GUEST HOST: Good evening. We continue now with breaking news. I'm Jim Moret from "Inside Edition." Filling in for Larry King tonight. Golf superstar Tiger Woods' bombshell announcement that he'll take an indefinite break from the sport. He also admits publicly tonight that his infidelity has cause hurt and disappointment to his wife, his children and of course to his fans. We'll have his full statement for you in just a moment.

What happens next for Tiger and the sport. He clearly loves so much. Will his career, his marriage and his brand survive? We'll have a full panel of guests ready to discuss of this. But the first, lets get to the very latest with CNN Susan Candiotti. Following this breaking story, Susan what's the latest?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim all of this began on Thanksgiving night. And now two weeks later, as Tiger Woods' personal life appears to be crashing around him. Finally we have the statement, remember at first, he spoke only of transgressions. And now for the first time, we hear him admit to infidelities. Here's how his statement reads in full, quote, "I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try." He goes on to say, "I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing. After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person. Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period."

So again, it's been quite a two weeks for Tiger Woods. The question of course is what difference this will make in the public's eyes and in the eyes of family?

MORET: Well, also Susan I'm looking at the statement, and I see that Tiger is asking for forgiveness from his fans, his business partners, the PGA Tour, he doesn't specifically mention sponsors, any reaction yet, any fall out from the sponsors?

CANDIOTTI: We haven't heard any reaction as yet. But of course I think we all recognize that no one has seen any Tiger Woods commercials for past couple of weeks. And we know that the Gatorade has decided not to sponsor its Tiger drink anymore. But they said they made that decision before this all began.

Be that as it may we're getting some postings to Tiger Woods' Website. That is where he posted the statement. And already, I would say that the comments are pretty much 50/50, half in favor, half not. A couple of them saying, a good choice on your part to take this hiatus and others are saying, maybe you learned your lesson but at what cost to your family?

MORET: Susan Candiotti reporting tonight on the latest. Thanks Susan.

Lets go now to our expert panel, sports columnist for "USA Today," Christine Brennan and David Dusek, the deputy editor of Golf.com. Here with me in Los Angeles, my friend Howard Bragman, celebrity publicist and crises communications expert. Howard, what do you think? I know that you probably are critical on how he's handled this from the beginning. You generally want to get in front of the story, he has been behind this from the get go.

HOWARD BRAGMAN, CELEBRITY PUBLICIST: This has been a textbook case of misery for Tiger Woods. When I look at PR, it's like a doctor, what's the result that you want at the end. If I'm Tiger Woods what I want is this story to go away.

MORET: But it is not going to go away.

BRAGMAN: And this act he did today is making this a much bigger story as opposed to a smaller story. And anything that makes it a bigger story has got to be bad from PR point of view.

MORET: Christine Brennan, "USA Today" sports columnist, what's your take on this announcement? Were you surprised?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, "USA TODAY:" I'm surprised. I'm glad for Tiger in the sense that it sounds like he's really addressing this issue and meeting it head-on. Yesterday in a column, Jim I wrote that he should take six months or a year off, and I know that sounds so harsh and shocking to sports fans and the people who say he'll be fine and he will show up and everyone will forgive and forget.

I think this shows the magnitude of the problem. I think it shows that Tiger and his team are starting to get how big this deal is. The fact Jim that he used the word infidelity for the first time, in stead of transgressions there is another step. And I think it shows a little window into the world in Orlando, Tiger Woods world a bunker that he is right now. How bad things are, how they seem to be getting it and good for him on the one level if he really is going to focus on his family.

MORET: Plus, maybe, he read your column. That is certainly possible given that you suggested it yesterday. David, deputy, editor Golf.com, clearly more people are paying attention to golf now than ever before. But that has always been the case for Tiger Woods. Do you think he's hurt the sport? And hurt it indefinitely?

DAVID DUSEK, DEPUTY EDITOR, GOLF.COM: I don't think he's hurt the sport indefinitely. But certainly in the short run, his absence will hurt the sport, and will hurt the PGA Tour and will hurt television ratings and you can make the argument, that potentially it's going to hurt some of his sponsors by Tiger Woods not being out in front and being seen and pitching products and doing what he does best, which has been golf tournaments. Then the brands that are associated with him don't get the exposure that they would hope to get. So that is certainly a downside.

Now if he's able to come back at some point in the future, whether that is six months from now or a year from now, we certainly don't know at this point. And make a come back and start to win again and just trying to get something positive going in his life, then certainly having brands associated with that, they'll get the benefit from that. But in short run absolutely, the sport of golf will certainly see lower television numbers and just general buzz around the sport will be down no question about it.

MORET: Well, David, what do you make of this statement? The fact is that he never would have made this statement had the incident on Thanksgiving not happened and all these other women who came out of the woodwork, and basically he got caught I suppose. So he had to say something. He waited a long time. Did he wait too long in your view?

DUSEK: I think he may have waited a little bit too long. I would agree that it would have been a lot more beneficial to get out in front of the story if that is possible. But I think that one of the things that maybe we're losing sight of is just how big the story is. I think that we had all presumed when first reports of infidelity had came out, that we were talking about one case or two cases. But we don't know all of the facts yet.

But now it's being reported as maybe 10, or 11 or more people involved with this case. That the magnitude of this story is pretty staggering. It would be very difficult, it would be very unlike Tiger Woods and the way that his people and his inner circle has worked throughout his career is to go out and to invite the press on to his front lawn. So, I don't know what they could have done to make this story get smaller as your other guests have pointed out. He needs to get this story to go away. I don't really see a way that this story does go away for a while.

MORET: So Howard, what do you do? If you represented Tiger Woods, I can imagine the screaming and yelling behind closed doors. What do you tell him right now? Let's say you get him today as a client and all the damage is done.

BRAGMAN: Well, I think you work backwards from the point. First of all, you play what we call the inside game. Work on your family. Work on your kids and your wife. Work on your sponsors. Then, go a little bigger and start to work on your fans. Hopefully, you have an idea that he's taking a few months off, three months off or six months off. That day's going to have to come when he is going to have to meet the public and he is going to have to do the interview. MORET: So you start preparing for that day today?

BRAGMAN: No, I think you start working on your family right now. You have to get a really thick skin for the next couple of months. You're going to say, I'm not going to read a newspaper, I'm not going to turn on the TV. I'm going to do the business at hand, I'm going walk the tog (ph), I'm going to make breakfast and I'm going to change the diapers and be the best husband that ever was for a little while.

MORET: A lot of work ahead. I'm Jim Moret from "Inside Edition" filling in tonight for Larry King. We will be back with more on Tiger Woods on this breaking news, edition of LARRY KING LIVE, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret from "Inside Edition" sitting in tonight for Larry.

Christine Brennan, "USA Today" sports columnist. We reported earlier today on "Inside Edition" that Tiger Woods may be leaving the country with his wife, Elin, on their $22 million yacht, getting out of the country, getting out of Dodge. Trying to make the first steps to repair their marriage and then this announcement that Tiger Woods is leaving golf indefinitely. From your perspective as a sports columnist, what does his departure mean and then as a woman, he has a lot more work to do at home than he does on the golf course clearly?

BRENNAN: Certainly as a sports journalist looking at Tiger this is a punctuation mark, the exclamation point Jim on the wildest sentence we have seen maybe ever in sports. This Tiger Woods saga, the greatest fall from grace, I believe, in the history of sports of an athlete. But this is extraordinary. These two weeks are stunning. For golf, this is a huge blow. The game is kind of reeling, anyway with the economy, the sponsor, no sponsor's names yet on the tournament in San Diego that would have been his first coming back in January. So this isn't going to help, TV ratings will go down. It hurts the game. But on another level, who cares? It's about a man and his family and the image of the greatest icon in our culture in sports.

MORET: But Christine, weren't you surprised I mean to suggest that his wife would be leaving with him on a yacht, I mean, I can't think of any place I would rather less be, then on a boat, in the middle of ocean the two of them, I think they need to be in counseling, need some discussion time? But not necessarily alone in the middle of the sea.

BRENNAN: Well I would agree. But that's their decision and I'm sure they will make a good decision, I hope. But, we don't know that and there will be a lot more stories coming out of course. But keep in mind, that here's a man, he's going to be 34 in a couple of weeks, and he's not a 22-year-old frat boy. The fact that he's lived this life, whatever it is, however bad it is, the numbers that we have been hearing, however bad it is, he's clearly wanted to live that kind of life.

What a remarkable change for Tiger Woods obviously, I would say it's for the better. I think a lot of people would agree that to have more of a settled life would probably be good for Tiger Woods. But he has been living a high-wired act and he has been loving it. On the golf course and off the golf course, this is an extraordinary change for the person of the athlete who has been the most prominent in America culture in the last twelve years.

MORET: David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com, we don't generally think of golfers as play boys. But I guess that's changed this week too.

DUSEK: Yes, I think it certainly at least in this particular case, has shown that there are groupies and such like that, more than basketball and football, in the sports that normally you would associate that kind of behavior with, I think in speaking in generalities that whenever you get athletes who have this amount of money, oftentimes, they get this amount of money, millions of dollars at a very young age, it doesn't really matter if they're football, basketball, or hockey, or in some cases golf, or sports that you wouldn't associate that kind of behavior with, but people are people across the way and oftentimes, in some cases, unfortunately, they give in to some of the same temptations regardless of what sport they pursue.

MORET: Howard Bragman. Christine talked about the fall from grace. Tiger Woods is a great athlete. He doesn't speak much but he does represent a lot of products. We put him up there on this pedestal. We haven't knocked him down; it is through his own actions. But what does he do to try to repair that damage or can you repair it?

BRAGMAN: Well what I always tell people is they're only building you up to knock you down, that is one of my ten commandments.

MORET: But he did this.

BRAGMAN: But we all do this.

MORET: Come on.

BRAGMAN: We're all guilty of something. The point being is, we're human beings. We're going to screw up at some point in our life, OK, when you do, you have to repair the damage. You have to come forward with a sincere incredible apology and time is this magic ingredient.

MORET: Have you heard the sincere incredible apology yet?

BRAGMAN: No we are not there yet. He is still repairing the internal damage; I think this guy is in shock. I think he's going to have posttraumatic stress disorder. For a guy who's had such a controlled public image for decades to suddenly have this all hell break loose for this guy, you don't absorb this right away. I have been around a lot of people who have been dealing with big celebrities, and who have had to deal with crisis, and they're as shocked as the rest of us are.

This isn't something that you deal with overnight and he needs to deal with that. And the one thing is, I'm glad he's dealing with it. But time is going to work to his side. He's not a politician. We didn't elect him to office because of his moral turpitude. But we did because he the best player in the history of the game of golf. And as long as he can play golf, well again, and he apologized we'll forgive him.

MORET: Coming up next a former PGA Tour golfer weighs in on tonight's breaking news. What does it mean for the sport? LARRY KING LIVE returns in 60 seconds. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret from "Inside Edition" filing in tonight for Larry. Let's go to Brandel Chamblee, analyst of the golf channel and a former PGA golfer. Let's get your perspective Brandel. First of all, Tiger has always been so focused on his legacy. He came out of the gates just like gang busters and has had such an impressive run, what does this do long term to his legacy in your view?

BRANDEL CHAMBLEE, ANALYST, GOLF CHANNEL (via telephone): I think it's going make it very difficult to do what he set out to do from the very first time he set up what he did from playing golf and that is break Jack's record.

MORET: And Jack meaning Jack Nicklaus?

CHAMBLEE: Correct. Jack Nicklaus' eighteen major championships and he's well on his way to doing that with 14 major championships. But the strongest asset that you need that an athlete can have to being bulletproof and Tiger Woods has certainly been bulletproof, is having a clear mind.

For the first time this year, we have seen that Tiger Woods has been human. He was overtaken in the final round of the PGA Championship, everybody was scratching their heads and perhaps what was going on in his private life had something to do with that.

MORET: Well we've seen he come back from injury and he did so successfully. I believe he's won a couple of majors since, hasn't he?

CHAMBLEE: Well that's right. He won the US Open on a broken leg, and he has come back from previous injuries. But you know again the most important attribute any athlete can have is what's going on between their head. So maybe he can win an U.S. Open on a broken leg, but I doubt that he can compete very successfully with a broken psyche. Forget about his image for a moment. If we're just talking about golf, and how what has transpired in the last couple of weeks is going to affect his golf. I would say it's going to have a huge impact.

MORET: But golf is so caught up in image and there is so much protocol. Golf tournaments and the crowd is in hush tones. Everybody's respectful. Does this taint the sport? And do his fellow golfers are they angry do you think? CHAMBLEE: Yes, I think there will be some disappointment amongst his peers for sure. I think there will be some anger but the larger picture, is a number of people have spoken to this. Christine Brennan just spoke to it. People are human. We live in a very forgiving society. All we want to see is that somebody is contrite.

MORET: Have you seen that yet?

CHAMBLEE: Following Tiger Woods so closely, in his first statement on his Website, he used language that I have never heard him use before. He has always been quite curt anytime he talked to anybody about any thing that he thinks is digging to deeply. He used things, like I'm deeply sorry, with all my heart. I do believe, given what transpired today, that he's contrite, he understands that he cannot continue to live this irresponsible life. I think we live in a very forgiving society. Look at what Letterman did again--

MORET: But David Letterman in fairness, he came out publicly and spoke to his audience. Tiger Woods hasn't spoken to his audience personally except for a Website.

CHAMBLEE: Well that's just it. I think Tiger Woods needs to get in front of this story to use Howard Bragman's term. That's it, get in front of this story and take the initiative. Get out there and be open with people. Tiger Woods has always been closed. He never lets anybody get too close. Indeed if you ask a question that he feels is digging too deep, he in effect banishes you from his circle. He has a way of doing that, he needs to get out in front of this story and to talk to people and tell people openly how he feels and what he is going to do. All we have gotten from him were two statements from his on his Website. I think he can do a much better job of handling this than that.

MORET: Brandel we have about 15 seconds left. Do you think that he should be banned for any period of time?

CHAMBLEE: Oh, gosh, no. Any time we attach moral strength to athletic achievement, we're setting ourselves up for disappointment. You look at the vast array of people who have failed by infidelity, Letterman, Bill Clinton, Spitzer; the list will go on and on and on. He's human and as a human, he has the chance and the ability to change his behavior. He just needs some privacy and time to do that.

MORET: That is Brandel Chamblee, analyst golf channel and former PGA golfer. Thanks for you time.

CHAMBLEE: Thank you.

MORET: We have statement from PGA Tour commissioner, Tim Finchem, regarding Tiger Woods. Let me read it now. "We fully support Tiger's decision to step away from competitive golf to focus on his family. His priorities are where they need to be, and we will continue to respect and honor his family's request for privacy. We look forward to Tiger's return to the PGA Tour when he determines the time is right for him. And we'll be right back with more on this developing Tiger Woods story right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret from "Inside Edition." Sitting in tonight for Larry. On phone right now is an old friend and colleague, a great broadcaster and sports caster Pat O'Brien. Who has interviewed Tiger many times. Pat, what's your take on these latest developments? Tiger saying that he's giving up golf indefinitely to focus on repairing his private life.

PAT O'BRIEN, BROADCASTER (via telephone): Jim nice to talk to you again buddy. Yes, I think its good news for Phil Mickelson, that's about where it stops. It's terrible news for television -- first of all, let's not forget what he's got to do at home and take care of his family and himself. Take care of himself and his family. But in terms of the business world, the golf world, it's a disaster. In the eight months that he was off with his injuries, television ratings went down 50 percent. Do you know what 50 percent means in these times? People are going to lose jobs. There is going to be advertising revenue is going to go down. It's not golf. I have to be honest with you; it's not golf without Tiger.

MORET: And do you think that his sponsors will stick with him in the long run?

O'BRIEN: I think in the long run, yes, in the long run anything's possible by the way. This country loves a comeback. This country loves somebody who's contrite and comes forward. In the long run, fine. Short term, probably not so fine. I think we're already seeing people taking his face off of Websites. We haven't seen Tiger Woods commercials. That's business. Tiger knows that.

MORET: Pat, when you talk about the comeback, I mean, let's face it the bad news is still, we haven't hit bottom yet on this as far as the bad news goes? So he's trying to get in front of the story as Howard Bragman said earlier, I don't even know where we'll be on Monday.

O'BRIEN: Well Howard Bragman is certainly right once again. You know, that deadline has passed. Getting in front of the story is long gone. As a respected newsman, two weeks only into the story, this how far we have come, I think this would not have happened had Tiger gotten out in front of the cameras like Kobe did, like everybody else did, get out, let us see your face, be contrite, and as I said people love comebacks if you do it correctly.

MORET: You have spoken to Tiger many times. First were you stunned like most of us when we heard the early allegations and then saw the story unravel given your perception of who this guy is as a person?

O'BRIEN: That's a triple-edge question there, given my perception of who he is, yes. But given my perspective of a billionaire athlete on the road all the time is a different story. Everybody's got their own thing. I wasn't stunned. But, given the image that he has, I was surprised.

MORET: Pat O'Brien, old friend, great broadcaster and sportscaster. Thanks for your time, joining us tonight on the phone.

We just received this statement from Nike. "Tiger has been a part of Nike for more than a decade. He's the best golfer in the world and one of the greatest athletes of his era. We look forward to his return to golf. He and his family have Nike's full support." We'll be back with more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret from "Inside Edition," filling in tonight for Larry. We're talking about the developing Tiger Woods story, his announcement late today that he's giving up golf indefinitely and trying to repair his home life and his personal life. We have a caller now from Saddle River, New Jersey, for our panel. Your question?

CALLER: Yes, do you think if Tiger came out publicly from the onset, would he still be playing golf and not having to make this decision?

MORET: Howard Bragman, that's a good question.

BRAGMAN: It was very clear from the very first moment this accident happened that we were at a loss for the truth. OK? No one buying it from early on. I think he'd still have to deal with it. But he would have a lot more credibility and a lot more sympathy than he has now.

MORET: Christine Brennan from "USA Today," a sports columnist, I want to put some perspective on this. Early on, Tiger was in the accident. He was injured. Police said they didn't know if his injuries were consistent with a car accident, leading you to suspect that perhaps his wife might be charged with domestic violence. So Tiger really couldn't come out publicly early on. Given that, do you think, given the caller's question, that he could have done anything else?

BRENNAN: I don't know if he could have. At the time, a lot of us were saying, where he is? Why isn't he speaking out about? This is the ultimate PR machine. Are they blowing this one and why? Control freaks, the whole part of it; is this overwhelming them? And I think what we have seen is that, as you said, Jim, we don't know if we have hit rock bottom yet. If Tiger had spoken out in those first few days, how silly would he have looked as the tabloids and the Internet stories kept coming out.

So, in many ways, probably, he knew how bad it was. You can almost picture him with his lawyers, on a couch at the house in Orlando, and how many? What's her name? What about this? As that was going on, you could probably see a scenario where, legally, they decided to not say anything because it was so bad.

MORET: Jim Gray, a sportscaster for Golf Channel is joining us by phone from Palm Springs, where he's actually covering a fight tomorrow night. Jim, you interviewed Tiger. You said, I believe, he was eight years old. That's the first time you ever spoke with him. JIM GRAY, SPORTSCASTER: That's correct, Jim.

MORET: What's your perspective on all of these developments today?

GRAY: Well, I think it's a sad day for sports, a sad day for golf. We have been looking at, perhaps, the greatest athlete of our era, Ali-esque, Jordan, in that vein, the Michelangelo of golf. For him to have to step aside because of some self-induced problems here is really tragic at the height of his career. So I think there's a sadness, and I think that we have never seen anything like this. This has been a fall from grace, as all of your guests have said, the likes of which we have never seen in such a short period of time.

I think it's important to remember, I think if you look back at Michael Jordan, when he had to leave the game by his own volition, there were gambling allegations. Of course, his father had been tragically murdered. He then decided to play baseball. He was tired of dealing with the Bulls' management and Jerry Kraus (ph). He stepped away, did a few other things for a while, came back. That was at the height of his career. I understand Basketball's a team game. This is an individual game. But he came back and went on to win three championships.

So if we're looking at it from that perspective, there is a precedent. And Brandel Chamblee has said it best; if he can get his head right, maybe we haven't seen the end or the best of Tiger Woods. This certainly is a major, major bump in the road. I have known for some time, Tiger hates the scrutiny. He hates the microscope that he lives in, the fish bowl. He was going to break that record and walk away as soon as possible. Now he may not break the record. But this doesn't surprise me at all, because he's been tired of it long before the scandal hit.

MORET: Howard Bragman, you're a crisis management expert. We've got about 40 seconds left. We heard Nike is standing by him. At least it sounds like that. That's about 30 million of his 110 million annual income. That's good news, from your perspective?

BRAGMAN: It's great news. Nike's doing the right thing. Nike's one of the classiest companies out there. There's been no charges of anything illegal. There's some morality thing. Let me say, if every professional athlete who was ever guilty of infidelity left the sport, we wouldn't be able to have enough people to play in the game every week. OK? Whatever the sport was. So I think Nike's doing the right thing right now.

MORET: What do you at home think about Tiger Woods' decision to take a break from golf? Sound off on CNN.com/LarryKing. Click on blog and then let your voice be heard. Stephen A. Smith joins us next. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Stephen A. Smith is a sportscaster, a nationally syndicated radio host for Fox Sports Radio, and a columnist for the "Philadelphia Inquirer."

Stephen, what's your perspective on this? Do you think that Tiger -- he's put himself in exile. Do you think he should be banned, in any way, from this game?

STEPHEN A. SMITH, FOX SPORTS RADIO: Absolutely not. That's utterly ridiculous. He shouldn't be banned. He's the best in the game. The fact of the matter is none of these endorsement deals would have been available to him if he were not the best in the game.

That's not to condone what he did. But that's something that he and his wife, Elin, have to deal with. At the end of the day, what we're concerned about -- the reason we cared about Tiger Woods in the first place was because he's the greatest golfer, arguably, of our lifetime. That's what it comes down to. There's nothing that we've seen from him that's going to take away from his exploits as a golfer.

MORET: But, clearly, your view of him as a person has shifted in the last couple of weeks?

SMITH: I don't think there's any question about that. He's come across as a bit phony, to say the least. That's just being kind about it. To come out with the cockamamie story that he came out originally, as opposed to telling the world that it was a personal issue, mind your business, and leaving it at that. I think that made him look relatively weak.

Then he tried to talk about his wife being a hero and tried to deflect attention away from her. That was admirable, because she probably -- in my estimation, anyway, she probably was beating him down, which is why he ultimately got into that accident, because he was a bit woozy before he jumped in the Escalade. That's just my opinion.

But time after time, again, whether it was him or his PR machine, clearly he was given some bad advice or he decided to follow some things that were simply unwise. He came across as a bit phony. Every day, it seemed, a different woman was coming out. That just made him look that much more worse.

Clearly, his image has taken a major hit. It will be a long time, if ever, before he recovers in that regard. But he's still the best golfer in the world. As long as he wins, he'll continue to make money.

MORET: As long as he wins. Jim Gray from the Golf Channel, do you agree with Stephen A. Smith that Tiger Woods came off as a phony or a hypocrite in some way?

GRAY: You have to understand his perspective. Here's a guy who's been in total control his whole life. He's in control of everything. He controls the golf tour, in many ways. When he shows up at a tournament, it's a success. When he doesn't, it's not. When he's on television, the ratings are through the roof. When he doesn't show up, they struggle. They struggle for sponsors. There's a crisis right now on the PGA tour with sponsors. Now it's a bigger crisis. Tiger missed last year, most of it, year with his knee, came back and it was a huge success again. He's in total control of absolutely everything that goes in on in professional and probably personal life. For the first time ever, he no longer is at the switches. Everybody else. Everybody else is telling him what to do, how to handle it, what's the next step, how do you go about things now? His wife has now a bigger say.

Everything has changed for him. So, the card and the hands that he was dealt, overnight, because of his behavior, all of this self- induced, changed the playing field. He's not used to it.

SMITH: I would to interject there. First of all, I can appreciate and respect where Jim is coming from. The fact is, we don't have to understand where he's coming from, because he never extended any level of effort whatsoever to try to make us understand him. He wanted us to believe about him what he wanted to believe about him.

The reason I feel so passionately about that -- I'm not trying to condemn him for his actions, whatever. To me, that's his personal business. He should have told the world to mind their business. That's the problem I have with him.

But when you talk about his image, in terms of being in control and now losing control, this is a man that went about the business of trying to manipulate opinions about him. I recently saw a commercial where he was talking about being a father to two daughters, as well as a husband. If you know that you are doing what you are doing, why are you allowing that type of advertisement to be put out there about you? It's one thing to be seen drinking Gatorade or wearing a Nike outfit, with gloves and a golf club, whatever the case may be. But when you're advertising yourself as a family man, where you clearly know that is not how you are behaving, that's the epitome of hypocrisy. It's one of the few things in the world that Americans simply cannot forget.

MORET: We're going to take a break now. We want to give thanks to Jim Gray for joining us on the phone. Tiger Woods apologized for infidelity. How can Tiger Wood's behavior be explained? We'll be talking to Dr. Drew Pinsky about this, coming up next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: I'm Jim Moret from "Inside Edition," sitting tonight in for Larry. We're talking tonight about Tiger Woods. On the phone, joining us is Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is host of "Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew."

Drew, you and I spoke about a week ago. You suggested to me that this could imply sex addiction. We heard Tiger today on his website use the word infidelity. Does infidelity change things in your view now?

DREW PINSKY, "SEX REHAB WITH DR. DREW": No, it really doesn't, Jim. By the way, I'm sorry I couldn't get in there. This story, obviously, came up at the last moment. I would have loved to be with you there. Thank you for taking this call.

The fact is, whenever somebody seems to be engaged in behavior that is truly what we perceive to be out of character -- I think it really is out of character. He's not a man that people have ever said, there's something wrong with his character. He misbehaves. He mistreats people. He doesn't empathize with other people. He's lived a certain kind of life. All of a sudden, there's this tremendous behavior that seems completely out of character. Whenever you shake your head and say, what made that happen, you have to think about addiction.

Here's a man that had a knee surgery a year ago, had a prolonged rehabilitation, might have been put on opiates. Opiates were found -- that was Vicodin found in his system at the time of the car accident. You just have to speculate that maybe chemicals had something to do with this. Then you look at the behavior, at least the alleged behavior. This isn't a single infidelity. This is a pattern. Sex addiction has to be at least raised.

MORET: Dr. Drew, though, many people would hear the term sex addict and say, wait a minute; you're giving this guy an excuse. That's not fair.

PINSKY: No, you're absolutely right. I have heard that bandied about a bit. In fact, I wrote a blog on LARRY KING LIVE's website about this very issue. But you have to understand, when it comes to any addiction, it's rarely the case that the addict is stepping up and raising their hand and saying, I have a shameful problem. The problem is brought to light and brought to treatment when the family brings them in, the legal system brings them in, some consequence precipitates an awareness of the problem. And often against the patient's will, they're brought to care. Then they begin to gain insight on the nature of their problem.

He's not standing up and using it as an excuse. It's just simply the fact that the behavior fits this syndrome we call sexual addiction.

MORET: That's Dr. Drew Pinsky joining us on the phone. I want to point out, also, we're using the term sexual addiction. We're not implying that Tiger is a sex addict. We're simply using this as a jumping off point for conversation. Our stellar panel, including Stephen A. Smith, returns right after this break.

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MORET: Let's go back to our panel. First, Stephen A. Smith, sportscaster, nationally syndicated radio host for Fox Sports Radio, and columnist for "The Philadelphia Inquirer." You heard, I assume, on the phone, Dr. Drew Pinsky talk about the specter or possibility of sex addiction. SMITH: I've never given much credence to stuff like that because I think that a lot of men in this world avoid the real truth of the matter simply because they don't want to admit it, because there's a lot of women out there watching. The fact of the matter is that when you see a woman and you desire her, you know, you desire her. And when you get married, that doesn't necessarily stop.

Now, I'm not married yet. But the reality is that it's almost one of those situations where when it comes to the physical, there's quite a bit of men out here that are in constant rehab. We see something; we covet it; sometimes we act right about it; sometimes we act wrong about it.

But if Tiger Woods is an addict, per se, there's a whole bunch of addicts running around in this world. And people just need to stop using that as an excuse or whatever. Men covet what they see. And we have to reel ourselves in when we make that ultimate commitment, because it's not the right thing to do to violate it, period. I'm not interested in something about a sex addiction. I'm sorry. I'm just not.

MORET: Fair enough. Christine Brennan, "USA Today" sports columnist; we mentioned earlier in this broadcast that Nike, in a statement, is standing by, at least it sounds like it -- they support and are standing by Tiger Woods. What's your response to that?

BRENNAN: Well, no surprise at all. In fact, it would be stunning news if Nike said it weren't doing that. Nike, we have to remember, is the company that signed Tonya Harding after the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. They will throw money at anything.

The key ones for me are Accenture and AT&T. The other day, I tried to reach both of those, Jim. Accenture I called in the morning, called again five hours later. Accenture is the be a Tiger. You see it in all the airports. It's so embarrassing right now. And the spokeswoman never, ever got back to me. Nine hours, no phone call return. They acted as if they didn't even know who Tiger Woods was.

MORET: So are you suggesting they're on the fence? Do you think they're on the fence at this point?

BRENNAN: Well, I guess after nine hours of not returning a phone call -- with the question I asked, are you staying with Tiger, and if so, why -- I think we can surmise that. And AT&T was even more interesting. Their name, of course, is on Tiger's golf bag, and they also sponsor his tournament in Washington, D.C., over the Fourth of July weekend. And AT&T, I got to their spokesman, e-mailed him, asked him for comment. He said we have no comment. Followed up with, do you have a morals clause with Tiger Woods. Once again, just a few moment later, we have no comment.

Amazing. Two weeks into this, and AT&T could come up with nothing better than "we have no comment"? To me, that spoke volumes.

MORET: Howard Bragman, listening to what many people have been saying, it sounds like if he does well on the golf course, he's going to do fine. Is that really true?

BRAGMAN: It's not that simple. There has to be this period of time. There has to be an apology. He has to hold his family together. If he plays everything right, and then he plays golf well, too, he'll get through this. But it will never be the same, OK? He'll get through it, but it will never be the same. The teflon coating has disintegrated from Tiger Woods.

MORET: So the luster is gone forever?

BRAGMAN: Not the luster forever. But some of that -- some of that patina has been dinged a little.

MORET: Fair enough. Thank you to all of our panelists. After the break, another perspective on Tiger Woods' announcement that he's taking what he calls an indefinite break from golf. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Stay with us.

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MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret from "Inside Edition," sitting in tonight for Larry. Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, author of "Til Death Do Us Part," joins us from New York. And here in Los Angeles, Judy Smith, a crisis management expert with Impact Strategies.

Judy, you've heard what many of these folks have said tonight. Is this a lost cause, or what do you do if he's your client?

JUDY SMITH, IMPACT STRATEGIES: Oh, absolutely not. It's not a lost cause. Tiger Woods is an icon.

MORET: A fallen icon.

J. SMITH: Yes, but as everybody has pointed out, the American people are very forgiving. And he's doing exactly the right thing, taking time to deal with his marriage and his family and his kids. He'll be back. He'll be back.

MORET: Dr. Robi Ludwig, it's one thing to forgive someone. We don't even know everything he's done yet. And the news keeps piling on. What do you do to treat a patient in this situation?

Dr. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I would help Tiger Woods understand why he did what he did. I don't even know if Tiger Woods understands what motivated his behavior. And you need to first understand why you're doing what you're doing, if you want to stop it and if you want to make a change.

So really Tiger has the opportunity now, while he's taking a time-out from golf -- he's taking a time-out from his distractions -- to ask himself these very serious questions, how did he end up in this horrible crisis? And --

MORET: But Dr. Ludwig, when you look at these photos that they're showing on the air right now of his wife, and they're both smiling, you now look at these photos differently. It almost looks like, is this a sham? Is this for real? Does she know what's going on? What's he doing really, you know? And that's not a good place to be, if you're looking at him as an icon and as a sports figure and a role model.

LUDWIG: Right. But the truth of the matter is we put these people on a pedestal when they don't really deserve to be there in the first place. Just because he's an amazing golf player doesn't mean he's an amazing father, doesn't mean he's an amazing husband.

So there's part of our society that likes to see people rise. We put them up there. We want to see perfection fall and then come back up again. So we are a very forgiving people. We like to see people come back, in part because we know that we are not perfect. And if somebody can make a comeback after exposing their flaws, there's something very comforting for us in knowing that.

MORET: Judy Smith, does Tiger Woods have to come out, beyond going on his website, and actually talk to his fans, talk to people who feel let down?

J. SMITH: Absolutely. I think he's going to have to address that. If he doesn't, he'll constantly be faced and dodged with these kinds of questions when he is back on the golf course. And you don't want that.

MORET: How does he do that? Does he go on "Oprah," as some people have suggested? Does he control the situation, or does he take questions?

J. SMITH: I think that's the last thing he has to do. I think the first thing he has to do is work on his marriage, which he's doing. I think the next thing he has to do is assess what's the best place to go, whether it's "Oprah," whether it's a program such as this. But, really, that's the last thing. He has to get there first.

MORET: I'm inviting him right here right now.

J. SMITH: Here and now.

MORET: Dr. Ludwig, you've got about 15 seconds. I know this is a tough question to answer in a short time. Can this marriage be repaired, and what do you do? How do you do it?

LUDWIG: I would say absolutely yes. People get through infidelity all the time. It has to do with a person's intention. And are they willing to be in the marriage in a different kind of way? So Tiger would have to be a very different type of husband. And his wife would have to have kind of a new understanding of the man she's married to.

MORET: That's the last word. Dr. Ludwig, thank you. Thank you for watching. I'm Jim Moret for Larry King. "AC 360" starts right now.