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ESPN hosts criticize Tiger Woods after his comments about President Trump

Posted at 2:02 PM, Aug 28, 2018

A pair of ESPN hosts were critical of Tiger Woods on Monday after Woods' comments about his relationship with President Trump.

Asked on Sunday about how he'd respond to people who are intrigued by his "friendly relationship" with Trump, Woods, a friend and sometime golf partner of Trump, told reporters: "He's the president of the United States and you have to respect the office. And no matter who's in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office."

ESPN host Max Kellerman took issue with Woods' refusal to denounce Trump, and fellow host Stephen A. Smith criticized Woods for not speaking out on issues that concern African-Americans.

"It really bothers me. I'm angry at what Tiger Woods said, because it is a thoughtless statement dressed up as a thoughtful statement, and it either holds in contempt the intelligence of people who hear it or else it’s just a stupid thing to say. " Kellerman said during "First Take" on ESPN.

"To say you must have respect for the office -- Tiger, be clear. Are you saying that the office, therefore, confers respect onto its present temporary occupant? No. Having respect for the office means principally, in my view, is the office holder should have respect for the office."

Smith didn't take issue with Woods' statement about Trump, but said black Americans are unhappy with Woods' refusal to discuss certain political issues. Smith referred to Woods as "Cablinasian," a term Woods has used to describe his own ethnicity. Woods' mother is a native of Thailand, and his father had African-American, Asian and Native American ancestors.

"First of all, we don't know what Tiger Woods believes. He's Cablinasian; he's not black. When he got arrested, he was black. He was listed as black on the report. So let's understand that," Smith told Kellerman. "That's the issue that the African-American community has always had, because always from a historical perspective, obviously if one-third of you has a darker hue, a darker pigmentation, the bottom line is you are black, and it is that simple.

"What I'm saying to you is, clearly you are perceived as being a black man, and even though you didn't want to disassociate yourself from your mother's ethnicity -- who is Thai, I believe -- the bottom line is that's the reason why he took that position, but black Americans haven't respected that from Tiger for quite some time. They haven't heard Tiger speak on a plethora of issues pertaining to having a social conscience on many, many occasions, and that is something that people have lamented, as well.

"But as it pertains to this particular statement, again, I'm not going to take it as far as him conferring, as you would say, to respect the president himself even though you're playing golf with him and all that other stuff, considering how divisive people consider him to be."

On Monday, Trump praised Woods and accused the media of attempting to have Woods denounce him.

"The Fake News Media worked hard to get Tiger Woods to say something that he didn't want to say. Tiger wouldn't play the game - he is very smart. More importantly, he is playing great golf again!" Trump tweeted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.