Monday, October 13, 2014

COMMENTARY: ABC/ESPN Backhands NASCAR Again

NASCAR’s media partners in Bristol, Conn. did it again Monday, continuing the season-long process of scraping the sport off their collective shoe. 

In the aftermath of a post-race imbroglio at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night that saw a number of drivers play Demolition Derby on pit road before a widespread bout of pushing, shoving and questioning of parentage, ESPN and its parent company, ABC, once again plumbed new depths in yellow journalism. Utilizing a team of reporters who wouldn’t know a panhard bar from a tiki bar, ABC’s Good Morning America variously misrepresented the incident as a “brawl,” an “epic brawl” and a “chain reaction rumble,” despite the fact that nary a punch was thrown. 

“Now to the brawl on a NASCAR race track,” said GMS anchor Robin Roberts, by way of introduction. “Some of the sport’s top drivers were involved, including Tony Stewart; his first incident since that deadly accident over the summer.” 
 
GMA's Robin Roberts
“That deadly accident,” of course, was the August 9 incident at New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park that saw Sprint Car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. die after being struck by a car driven by former Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. The self-anointed “Worldwide Leader in Sports” ran footage of Ward’s death repeatedly over the 72 hours that followed, reporting – almost gleefully at times -- on Stewart’s status as a “NASCAR bad boy” and a loose cannon.  

GMA leveled the crosshairs on Stewart yet again Monday, despite the fact that he played a minor role in the on-track car wars, and no role whatsoever in the post-race wrestling match. Reporter Gio Benitez breathlessly described the incident as “a chain reaction rumble involving several racers, including Tony Stewart, who’s under NASCAR’s microscope.” 

Benitez failed to define “NASCAR’s microscope,” almost certainly because the sanctioning body has taken a hands-off approach to the case, leaving it in the hands of law enforcement, the Ontario County (NY) District Attorney and a grand jury, all of whom declined to file any charges against Stewart.  

“Watch as Kenseth and Keselowski get into an epic brawl,” said a breathless Benitez, “one even putting the other in a choke hold.” 

He declined to identify which driver was which, probably because he had no idea. Still not satisfied, GMA rolled out USA columnist Christine Brennan to pick at the Stewart scab one final time.
 
“With everything the sport has been through,” she huffed, “and everything Tony Stewart has been through in the wake of that fatal accident, to have this kind of nonsense going on is really unconscionable.” 

No actual race results were given during GMA’s two-minute NASCAR segment. Kevin Harvick was not identified as the winner of the race and no mention was made of the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings. Stewart, meanwhile, was mentioned a total of five times. It was like covering a fight between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals, but declining to give the final score. 

For at least the second time in recent weeks, ABC/ESPN has made it clear that it has no respect for NASCAR, its competitors and fans, multi-year contract be damned. Clearly, their only desire is to continue the ongoing campaign of demonization against Stewart, with or without any actual facts to back it up.
 
In this writer's personal opinion, they cannot be gone soon enough.
 
 

51 comments:

  1. I have no respect anymore for Espn p. I agree with you Dave. Just a witch hunt and not covering the news truly

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  2. Anonymous7:17 PM

    I agree with your last sentence!

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  3. Anonymous7:22 PM

    Well Said Dave! I so agree and to top it off How about ABC not even showing the beginning of the race because of college football! ESPN and ABC had how many channels of college football on and on one channel they only had news on, they could have moved the game on ABC to that channel and show the race like they were suppose too! I cannot wait for them to be gone

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  4. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Disgraceful! This is after they missed the very beginning of the race for football coverage!

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  5. Anonymous7:32 PM

    and worse yet....the crap that inside edition is putting on tonight....disgusting piss poor yellow journalism at its worst. ~Zig

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  6. Anonymous7:33 PM

    I agree Moody, I will be so glad when they will no longer be airing Nascar, it's not like they give Nascar any real air time

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  7. Anonymous7:34 PM

    This enrages me. They NEVER report on a race, they NEVER told the truth of Tony's accident after all the evidence was out. I refuse to let these idiots ruin my NASCAR. We know the truth and that is all that matter to me. Thanks Mr. Moody for always getting it right.

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  8. Excellent. Glad you spoke up!

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  9. Now that is real journalism! Thanks Dave

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  10. Anonymous7:43 PM

    And this is the network that caused the Nascar fans to miss the pre-race activities and the first 25 laps of the race. Shame on ABC.

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  11. Anonymous7:46 PM

    Amen brother.
    Ray in NC

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  12. Kudos Dave! I've been saying just this for years. ESPN has no respect for NASCAR. The fact that we missed 34 laps of that race for a college football came ran late is another example.

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  13. Anonymous7:56 PM

    Any resemblance to real news coverage left with the last producer of GMA. Used to watch but when it went to all pop news and sensationalized headlines I turned it off. Not surprised at all by what you're saying Dave. Sad it's come to that type of feeding frenzy....

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  14. Anonymous8:05 PM

    Bravo, Dave. Bravo.

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  15. Personally, I don't really care for ABC as a news network period. As stated in the article, the news room commentators know virtually nothing about the sport. My personal opinion is ABC is only in it for the money, which is certainly why any company does anything, but if they can't get their reporting together and at least accurate, they should move over and let those that can make it happen!!

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  16. Anonymous9:23 PM

    Thank you Dave! I was so mad this morning watching gma

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  17. Only a few more races and they will gone. When they are no longer a "partner" they will fail to mention the sport again. This is seemingly like a bad break up with a significant other. Sad really.

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  18. Anonymous9:47 PM

    You nit the nail on the head.This couldn't have been worded any better.Thank You!!

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  19. Well said, Mr. Moody. Sensational "journalism" at its worst.

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  20. Anonymous9:54 PM

    Thank you so much! Loved your comments and agree totally

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  21. Great Job Dave. GMA and Robin Roberts and Inside Edition need to get their facts straight and stop bashing Tony and bringing up the Kevin Ward Jr. accident that Tony has been cleared of. And ABC to not start coverage of the race was just wrong. Glad I was sitting in the stands and didnt have to miss it. I myself cant wait til ESPN and them are no longer covering the races they have not showed Tony any of the respect he deserves either but let him he have trouble and their camera is on him and not showing his fans honoring him and Kevin Ward Jr. on laps 13 and 14 is just rude.

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  22. Anonymous10:29 PM

    I actually thought they did some 'creative' editing to zero in on Tony backing into Brad and purposely omitted most of the part where Tony was rear-ended without warning. No one without an agenda would blame Tony for getting upset. ABC should stick to commenting on politics where they do that poorly as well.

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  23. Anonymous10:33 PM

    Hopefully, these incidents will be remembered if they ever bid on the TV contract again.

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  24. The following is a copy/paste of a post I made on Robin Roberts Facebook page...I am sick of the media sensationalizing stories. Keep up the good work, I really enjoy your columns.

    I have followed your battle with Cancer and have always had the utmost respect for you......until the story about the NASCAR fight. To bring up the past accident and compare it to Stewart's actions at Charlotte shows that you and your reporter know absolutely nothing about NASCAR racing. Bumping and banging to show displeasure with someone happens often, far more often than fisticuffs. Stewart did nothing that any other NASCAR driver wouldn't do if someone ran into them on pit road post-race. Why didnt you show Keselowski driving through the garage area like a madman? Stewart hit a CAR, not a person, while Keselowski endangered several crewmen with his antics. As for the fight between two competitors, how is this any different from a fight at a hockey game? Why do you focus on a past tragedy that had absolutely nothing to do with this story?
    I would like to respectfully request that before you cover any more racing incidents that you and Gio do a little research and learn more about the sport before you sensationalize an incident that happens at almost every racetrack in the country at one time or another. I am still a Robin Roberts/GMA fan, keep up the good work, just do a little more research before your next NASCAR story.

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  25. Anonymous10:36 PM

    amen mr moody!!

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  26. Anonymous12:00 AM

    Well said!

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  27. Chip Johnston3:39 AM

    Very well said. While I was at the race and as such did not see the broadcast of the race on TV I got really upset when I learned that ABC didn't even have the race on the air until they were 26 laps into it. They just slapped race fans all over the country in the face. The GMA story on top of this, where as mentioned they singled out Tony Stewart even though he had only a minor role in the incident and didn't even bother to mention the results of the race only added insult to injury.

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    1. I have a Tony Stewart support page on facebook and them and a lot of friends that aint on it were complaining abt ABC not starting the race coverage. There's been a lot of backlash on all this and what GMA and Inside Edition did yesterday bashing Tony and bringing up the accident with Ward Jr

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  28. Kathy Wall6:55 AM

    Tony was just being Tony. He got hit in the rear for no reason and just reacted the way he does. Nobody was hurt doing that and Brad was the one being dangerous. They failed to mention that. Tony will always be unfairly scrutinized now for that tragic accident. I am glad they are leaving ESPN and ABC. Maybe they will get fair coverage of the sport now.

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  29. Anonymous8:14 AM

    ABC news is a joke….most big network news is a joke….they do not deliver news, they do not inform, they lead you to believe they have a story when there is none…they just tease. This is why more and more people are turning to the internet for a more nonconventional news source.
    You can find a much more balanced view of most stories in the blogosphere….and yes it may have some BS, but that’s the same BS the network news uses as a teaser. This is the dumbing down of America. People in a rush turn on the network news as they get ready for their day and take in a little information…most of it is foolishness….they are telling you who to like and who to hate. You don’t even know it.
    Look at how they bait you to with headlines that have nothing to do with the actual facts of the story. Tony Stewart’s involvement in last week’s race was minimal, but ABC leads with it. Why, no one at ABC cares about the facts, they care about the headline. Watch at election time, we won’t be talking about who has a real plan. We will be talking about who the villain is.
    The people paid to deliver the news do not put those stories together; they are delivered to the anchor to read. Robin Roberts is not a trustworthy news source; she is a paid reader of news given to her by network writers who have an agenda in my opinion. When their commercials say “the most trusted news source”, my first thought is, trusted by who?

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  30. Hopefully we get RID of Rusty and Brad forever !!!!

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  31. Anonymous9:17 AM

    AWESOME article

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  32. Anonymous9:56 AM

    Who do we need to go to to make Good Morning America apologize for their misrepresentation of the story of Sat. night's race at Charlotte. After MANY MANY Fb. comments you would think somebody in the studio would get the "hint" Maybe they think they don't need to read the comments. WRONG!!!!!!! GMA....You screwed up BIG time on this one. Make it right!

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  33. Brandon in TN9:59 AM

    All you need to know is that Disney owns ABC and ESPN. That should be enough to let you know where their agenda lay.

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    1. Anonymous10:49 AM

      What agenda is that? Bringing the Mouse to NASCAR?

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  34. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Thanks for calling these clowns at ABC out on their coverage of the post race activities. Truth, Brad lost his head because he didn't win this race and knows he has to win at Talladega against serious odds, or his Chase is over. Other truth, Matt was mad because Brad put him into the wall for the third time this season and this one hurt his otherwise decent chance of moving on in the Chase. Now he will either have to win or at least finish top five ahead of Kasey Kahne at Talladega. against long odds. He was right to get very mad when Brad decided to tag him on pit row and it was great to see this man finally take up for himself. I don't know what Brad and Denny were doing at the end of the race, but I could see that both of them lost momentum and were trapped in the center of a three wide situation through one and two. I thought they settled their dispute on the track during the cool down lap, but Brad lost his head when he saw Matt Kenseth's car and that got everyone mad. These Chase races become very intense when there are several drivers in a must win situation, and this type scenario will likely play out again on Sunday.

    All that said, just give the winner a 20 point bonus, 2nd place an 8 point bonus and 3rd place a 3 point bonus and do away with this Chase altogether. Also, award lap bonuses only on the basis of green flag laps. Do the math and tell me the best driver wouldn't always win the Cup under this scenario, and usually at least three drivers would still have a decent shot to win it at Homestead.

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  35. The real question is why NASCAR ever wanted ESPN back to begin with. I remember the 1990s and the Winston Cup Scene/National Speed Sport News letters sections always express how ESPN was supposedly better coverage than CBS, even though objectively speaking ESPN was always behind the curve to CBS and Squier's World Sports Enterprises endeavors. Attacking Keselowski, Kenseth, et al for the postrace brouhaha isn't unfair because they were indeed acting in completely unprofessional manner - and the issue of the unprofessionalism of some of NASCAR's stars is a legitimate issue the sport should address - but the way Good Morning America did it was indeed way out of line, and is in keeping with Christine Brennen and ex-SportsCenter washout Robin Roberts, among the dumbest broadcasters that network has ever employed.

    Anonymous #36 makes some good points about the incident, but he seems to put too much stock in the Chase format when he talks about Keselowski going berserk because his Chase is all but over - the reality is Keselowski acted like this in the Winston 500 in May, and I suspect it's because Joey Logano has stormed ahead of him on Penske's depth chart.

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  36. Anonymous1:04 PM

    Does anyone remember when the only race covered by a major network was the Daytona 500? I believe it was CBS, not that it matters.

    The rest of the races were brought to us via television by what was then, "The Nashville Network", ESPN, and a couple of other cable networks.

    Then, in the mid 90s when NASCAR was reaching the pinnacle of its popularity, they gave those who "brung 'em to the dance" the bums rush. If memory serves, ESPN was banished from the pits/garage area, and the media center.

    NASCAR tried but failed to control even the media by claiming proprietary rights to everything that happened at the track. The media responded by calling out NASCAR, refusing to bow down to their edicts.

    Do you know that NASCAR, or the tracks have proprietary rights over every photo you take once inside the track? It clearly states such on every ticket. Your use of said ducat constitutes your approval.

    During that same time frame, NASCAR was contemplating getting a percent of the sponsorship monies received by the teams.

    That was fifteen to twenty years ago.

    Here's one last incident. UPS had just become the official package delivery system of NASCAR. The next year, when we received our ticket passages to Speedweeks, they were delivered to us by FedEx. Technically, NASCAR and DIS are separate entities. But, the are both run by the same family.

    I sent a letter to UPS telling them about the tickets. I received a reply telling me that next year, FedEx would not be delivering the Speedweeks ticket passages.

    They were correct. We got them via Priority Mail.

    That there may be some hard feelings between ESPN/ABC, is not surprising.

    As it is said, what goes around, comes around.

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    1. Actually what CBS did in 1979 was become the first to air a full 500 miler live. TV coverage of the sport back then was more extensive than a lot of people seem to realize; it just wasn't live telecasting as it later became. CBS aired Daytona, Talladega, and Ontario; it added Michigan in 1981.

      ESPN did not bring NASCAR to the dance - NASCAR made ESPN, not the other way around. ESPN needed programming where NASCAR still had CBS, NBC, and ABC when Roone Arledge was still in charge, plus SETV and Mizlou broadcasting its races; the only change was that broadcasting was evolving away from tape-delay and toward full-season live flag-to-flag coverage. ESPN got racecasts mostly by process of elimination, not because it was that important to the sport.

      The big change began in 1991 when Nashville Network took over several races and ESPN began losing its percentage of broadcast rights, this because it was paying the lowest rights fees of all the networks. When NASCAR went from individual tracks negotiating broadcast deals toward centralization of such deals, ESPN wouldn't pay more, so that's why they left, and the whole controversy over ESPN not being allowed in garage areas was silly on all sides.

      ESPN has no right to be angry with NASCAR, because NASCAR has been the better body than ESPN.

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  37. Typical left handed ABC News spin ..... just last week they turned a switch in the hands of Adrian Peterson into a "tree branch". They no longer report news based on facts - they like to create the news via sensationalism - anything to sell a paper!

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  38. Anonymous2:44 PM

    Well boo-hoo.

    GMA's piece was probably attention getting fluff they want from their followers but you'll milk it so you can get the reaction YOU crave from YOUR readers. Very hypocritical piece.

    autosport.com, bleacherreport.com, sbnation.com, motorsport.com, and foxsports.com all used the word "brawl" to describe the after-race "incident". Even nascar.com said "sparks flew". But ABC does it and it's "yellow journalism"? Your pieces are very hypocritical.

    Why get your panties all in a bunch over this, David? NASCAR gets some ill-informed coverage (from Good Morning, America....not exactly my go-to for racing news...sounds like it's yours, however) and you lose your nut. Calm down and go back to covering the racing. It's not a big deal. So a house wife and the Midwest thinks something less of NASCAR.

    As for Tony Stewart, he just sealed his fate on the impending civil suit.

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    1. I've never see anyone spend so much time talking about something he says everyone else should ignore. I'll cover whatever I like here, "Anonymous." It's my blog.

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  39. Great article Dave. You are right on point as usual.

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  40. Meanwhile, those in Daytona Beach are high fiving and counting their cash.

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  41. Anonymous4:13 PM

    100% Spot on! Thank You!

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  42. Anonymous9:40 PM

    No drivers should give any ABC or ESPN reports interviews. If asked, don't say a word, turn their backs and walk away.

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  43. Anonymous8:43 PM

    Dave I agree with your article but this is not a shocker ! These people report the worst thing they can come up with to get ratings and 99 percent of the time get the story wrong . Maybe instead of turning the tv on for the race I will listen to it on the radio .

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  44. i really like this News, looks great
    123

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  45. Anonymous12:50 AM

    Getting Christine Brennan to comment on NASCAR is like sending in the batboy to pinch hit for Mike Trout.

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