June 2, 2023 4:07 pm

It is challenging to say with any clarity how Jim Nantz feels about LIV Golf, but it is slightly simpler to know what he thinks of the league’s broadcast companion.

Twice in the final two months, the celebrated golf broadcaster has made use of CBS’s significant championship pulpit to provide a subtle jab at the CW, which is in its very first year as LIV Golf’s official broadcaster.

“There he is suitable on the C.W. … the crosswalk,” Nantz stated very first at the Masters, a tongue-in-cheek comment educated in the path of then-tournament leader Brooks Koepka.

Nantz was at it once again final week at the PGA Championship in Rochester, delivering an additional poke at LIV’s Television companion on the heels of news the network reduce away from LIV’s final round in Tulsa just just before the commence of a playoff.

“Not positive if you had the possibility to see it,” Nantz stated, pausing for dramatic impact. “But he was the winner final week in Tulsa.”

By most objective measures, Nantz’s comments rank pretty low on the subjectivity index. There are a lot more really serious offenses committed each day in golf’s higher tour wars than a couple of barbs sent at a fledgling broadcast network. But not every person sees it that way.

For a separate segment of the viewing audience — a segment especially visible and vocal on social media — Nantz’s comments are indicative of a broader work by CBS to retain LIV on the sidelines. In their view CBS is deliberately scrubbing LIV from its broadcasts and maintaining the league’s players off the air as extended as attainable. It is all element of a bigger movement, they say, to assistance their buddies on the PGA Tour in destroying LIV a movement that goes all the way up the chain of command.

Sitting atop that chain of command is CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus. So, what does McManus consider about these accusations? Soon after a historic PGA Championship broadcast saw CBS crown Brooks Koepka the very first-ever LIV significant champion, I asked him.

“We will continue to treat golfers precisely the similar irrespective of whether they play on the LIV Tour or the PGA Tour,” McManus told GOLF point-blank. “I would defy anyone sitting at property to say we covered these golfers any various than we covered the PGA Tour golfers.

The way we talked about Brooks and his accomplishments, coming back from injury, coming back from a position of his profession, in his personal words, becoming more than. The way we praised him, and the way we highlighted just what an incredible comeback he’s had,” McManus stated. “I would defy anyone to say, ‘oh, they match him in a tiny bit differently due to the fact he’s playing on the LIV Tour.’”

One particular certain focal point of the LIV coverage debate has been Phil Mickelson, who some have recommended is becoming “shadowbanned” by CBS. The allegations very first surfaced as Mickelson played his way into a spectacular second-location finish at the Masters devoid of a lot mention from the CBS group (Nantz later denied any nefarious behavior on CBS’s element, citing the uncommon timing of his charge). But the issues from viewers continued at the PGA, exactly where some noticed Mickelson’s 2021 victory was left out of a CBS tournament retrospective — a perceived slight against the six-time significant champ.

“Kicked me out of our fantasy league as well,” Mickelson wrote on Twitter in response to the accusations, a reference to a fantasy football league Nantz, Mickelson and fellow LIV golfer Graeme McDowell made use of to play in collectively. “But that was in all probability to even factors out.”

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McManus, who okayed Mickelson’s look on CBS’s coverage at the 2020 PGA Championship, saw his network’s coverage of the 2021 PGA Champ in Rochester differently.

“If something, we more than-covered Phil Mickelson throughout the two weekend days,” he stated. “Phil was in no way genuinely in contention on Saturday or Sunday, but we showed an huge quantity of shots due to the fact persons nonetheless like to see Phil Mickelson. It was only two years ago that he won the PGA Championship. We showed shot right after shot right after shot of Phil when he was a dozen shots or a lot more off the lead. We didn’t say ‘oh, Phil’s a LIV Golfer. We’re not going to show as a lot of him.’ It does not even enter into our thoughts. Not for one particular split-second.”

McManus can speak with authority on coverage choices due to the fact there are hardly any of them created outdoors of his know-how. As opposed to some other higher-ranking sports media executives, McManus spends the lion’s share of CBS’s significant events in the production truck — a habit that traces to his personal roots in the business. (McManus’ profession began as a production assistant at ABC.)

“I really like production. It is constantly been my very first really like. So if I get the possibility, in the smallest attainable way, to be involved in the production of our significant events, I genuinely nonetheless love carrying out that,” he stated. “I’m in the truck, not just for golf, but for the NFL, college football and college basketball.”

McManus is usually keen to cede the floor to his hand-picked lead golf producer, Sellers Shy. But offered his production background and institutional know-how, he’s unafraid to make his voice heard when it is vital. He tries to do so only seldom — one particular instance is a ‘tale of the tape’ segment that aired comparing Sunday playing partners Michael Block and Rory McIlroy — but if he felt a show was lacking in objectivity as it relates to LIV, he’d say so.

“We’re not burying our heads in the sand at all,” he stated. “We talked about Brooks becoming on LIV. We didn’t invest a lot of time speaking about it due to the fact really frankly, there’s practically nothing you can say that will advance the storyline of LIV or the PGA Tour. Everyone knows the circumstance.”

As is the case with so a lot relating to LIV, perception is not constantly reality. The suggestion that CBS would kneecap its personal coverage in pursuit of assisting its buddies on the PGA Tour runs counter to the network’s personal very best interests. Especially thinking about it is CBS who pays the Tour roughly $350 million annually in media rights payments — not the other way about.

“We talked about it. Jim talked about it. Trevor talked about it,” McManus stated. “I’m proud of the truth that from watching our coverage, you’d have no concept who was a LIV golfer and who was a PGA Tour golfer. The very first two interviews we did on Sunday have been with Bryson and Brooks. I consider they may well have been the only interviews with Amanda. The two most prominent interviews we did at a significant, final I checked, have been on LIV.”

In reality, the only issue that serves CBS’s personal very best interests is to provide monster ratings — and in that division, this year’s broadcast didn’t meet expectations. At four.517 million typical viewers, Koepka’s PGA Championship victory was the least-watched iteration of the occasion in the final 5 years. Provided Koepka’s win, CBS execs and LIV fans can agree on one particular issue: they want a lot more persons had been there to see it.