Ah, the incredible irony.
The major media outlet that employed an analyst who admittedly and intentionally interfered with a key Ryder Cup singles match on Monday has finally spoken.
Unlike BBC Radio commentator Bernard Gallacher, who hurled insulting comments at American player Jeff Overton in the middle of a tight match, the company's stance on the outrageous behavior of its employee is a masterpiece of hollow words.
One said way too much. The other, not nearly enough.
A formal statement was issued by the BBC on Thursday morning about the actions of Gallacher, a three-time European Ryder Cup captain who was inside the ropes and calling Overton's match with England's Ross Fisher. Upset over something Overton said to the match referee about a free drop Fisher that received from a muddy area, Gallacher elected to offer his unsolicited opinion.
Among other remarks, he called Overton a "typical American" for not knowing the rules, prompting Ron Overton to confront Gallacher as a means of defending his son. The two engaged in a heated debate. Afterward, Gallacher continued to defend his decision to browbeat the American player and refused to apologize.
Said the BBC in a formal statement:
"During a tense conclusion to the Ryder Cup, highly respected former Ryder Cup player and captain Bernard Gallacher, spoke to American player Jeff Overton and his father regarding a referee ruling. The comment was made off air and didn't interfere with play or the referee's ruling, no offense was intended or taken."
Let's look at this masterpiece of public-relations delusion in piecemeal fashion, shall we?
What difference does it make whether Gallacher's comments were made on or off the air? He was present as a paid commentator of the BBC. He interjected himself into the match, a massive violation of so many ethical journalistic canons, it's hard to know where to start.
The comments absolutely interfered with play, or none of this would have happened. Gallacher was fortunate that Overton either didn’t hear his comments or elected to ignore the man. Neither Jeff or Ron Overton realized that Gallacher was a former Ryder captain.
Finally, as for the BBC's assertion that "no offense was intended or taken," well, hurling insults at a player is the definition of being intentionally offensive. You can bet your butt that Ron Overton was offended or he would not have stepped in and asked Gallacher to leave the players alone.
Overton, 2 down at the time of the incident, rallied to win the match 3 and 2.
At the British Open this year, I participated in a live 30-minute BBC Radio segment with Gallacher, and he seemed an introspective, mild-mannered sort. But the Ryder Cup makes some people behave in strange ways. If he can’t cover the matches with some degree of objectivity, without insinuating himself into the equation, he has no business being on the course in the first place, and the BBC is utterly wrong to sanction his behavior.
Ask yourself this question: If Gallacher has popped off like this to Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods, what would have happened next? Just because Overton was the lowest-ranked player among the 24 players in the competition, and a largely unheralded Ryder rookie, doesn't mean he should be subjected to outside interference by a meddling commentator who can't remove his ego from the equation.