Friday, November 14, 2008

Questionable reporting? That's when the ask exceeds any real grasp

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Thank goodness this weekend is the end of the NASCAR season. I think some of my fellow media members need some time off.

Or maybe some counseling.

It’s Friday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sprint Cup qualifying just wrapped up. David Reutimann and Scott Speed make up an unlikely front row for Sunday’s Ford 400.

The big story, of course, is Jimmie Johnson’s bid to win a third straight Cup championship. He leads Carl Edwards by 141 points coming into this race, and despite the fact that Edwards will start fourth Sunday and Johnson only qualified 30th fastest, Johnson is in good shape to do just that.

But beginning at Thursday’s contenders press conference up in Coral Gables, reporters have been asking about and writing about how upset they are that Johnson and Edwards don’t appear to despise each other.

Question after question on Thursday picked at that topic.

Darrell Waltrip said it bothered him for Johnson and Edwards to be saying nice things about each other instead of trying to pick at one another or play mind games. Waltrip couldn’t operate that way.

And that’s fine. DW was, and is, a different kind of cat. But if Johnson tried to act like Waltrip, it would come off as phony.

Fans complain about drivers being “vanilla.” That topic is constantly overdone, and I quickly grow weary of hearing fans tell me they want drivers to be more colorful.

No, they don’t. Let a driver show a little bit of temper or a little bit of anger and the fans jump on him like bees on a bucket of honey. Ask Kyle Busch how that’s worked out for him this year.

I don’t think all drivers should be vanilla. But I think a driver should be whatever flavor he truly is.

It would have been a spectacularly bad idea for NASCAR to try to muzzle Waltrip back in his day. Waltrip’s personality added a lot to this sport and he would have been wrong to have tried to be somebody he’s not.

By the same token, it would be just as big of a mistake for Johnson to try to be something he’s not. He’s not a loudmouth. He’s not the kind of guy who likes to make snide remarks about his fellow competitors. He just doesn’t work that way and nobody should expect him to just for cheap entertainment thrills for a few race fans.

On Thursday, former champion Ned Jarrett was at the NASCAR press conference and people started asking him if it’s “good for the sport” that the two championship contenders seem to actually be able to tolerate one another.

One reporter asked Ned and his son, Dale, another former champion, if they didn’t feel that a driver has to be a jerk, or at least act like one at times, to be a good competitor.

The Jarretts both blinked and just looked at the questioner. It was like the guy was speaking a language the Jarretts, two of the classiest men in all of sports, didn’t understand.

The topper came Friday, though, when somebody in the media decided he’d work on a story about why Edwards’ teammates at Roush Fenway Racing don’t openly and intentionally start Sunday’s race with the plan to wreck Johnson to try to help Edwards win the title.

The same guy also asked Rick Hendrick, Johnson’s car owner, why he wouldn’t order his drivers to wreck Edwards to secure the title for Johnson’s team.

Every time the question was asked, the driver being asked reacted as though he thought somebody might be trying to pull his leg.

Matt Kenseth gave a couple of pretty good answers. Why would he not intentionally wreck Johnson? “Common sense?” Kenseth said. “Being a grown-up?”

Good grief.

27 comments:

Richard in N.C. said...

And there's a question why drivers give guarded answers?????????

Anonymous said...

Why not have J Gordon, Earnhardt Jr and Mears pull off right after the start of the race? Then JJ would only have to out-run, say four other drivers?

hahahaha

Anonymous said...

David - I think it's 100% in-bounds to tell us who asks these dumb questions. I would like to so I can adjust my expectations of their work in the future.

Mike Hutton said...

I felt JJ did show some color when he stated that he'd rather not have been at the press conference at all.

You can like that response or not, but at least he's being honest.

Anonymous said...

I competely agree that these reporters names should be made public knowledge. Especially if you heard it first hand and its not a rumor. Nascar needs to stop giving out passes all willy nilly! The doof should have been escorted out. We dont need that kind of reporting in our sport. I dont like either one of them, but why should they fake their personality? The idiot that ask that question wasnt faking his, Im sure he's a REAL dumba**!

Anonymous said...

GEEZ!

And one wonders why these drivers get sick of the media (sorry David)!

Chrissy

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing it was Lee Spencer

Anonymous said...

I absolutely hate it when "ask" is used as noun! At my company, the use of "ask" as a noun has become one of the buzzword bingo entries. I still hate it.

Anonymous said...

There has been such a proliferation of "news media" to cover this sport that the issue you write about was bound to happen. You even see it on the "reputable" TV broadcasts that now go on ad nauseum before a race and the green flag actually falls. How many times can you ask a dumb question to ellicit a response from a driver or owner?

I think some of these reporters, print and electronic, need to go bone up during the off season, maybe read Kant or Nietzsche -- hell even Tom Higgins, to get a little depth in their life and in their questions.

You see these little wannabees with their tape recorder on TV interviews of drivers after the race. Hell , they could sit in the media center and put their recorders up to the TV and get the same voice over, file their report, and no one would be the wiser. It would certainly look better than sticking a tape recorder in someone's face while the TV crew does the dirty work. It's amatuerish.

I liked what mild mannered Jeff Burton had to say to someone about the now "boring" racing at Bristol because of the repave. I am paraphrasing but Burton essentially said, unless I am in error, that that was one of the 'stupiest" questions he had heard. 'If you think Bristol racing is boring then I don't even want to talk to you.'

And by the way, to me it got to where Bristol was boring before the repave. Racing for 20 laps if they were lucky then a caution and then ride around for 15 laps under caution. with 100 laps or more of caution flags...that to me isn't racing.

And oh by the way again. DP you are correct. Fans these days want it both ways--drivers show emotion and they pounce on him like he was The Devil, then call somebody 'vanilla' when they don't do balckflips. It is a crazy world now. Bet you are glad the last lap of 2008 is near...

Anonymous said...

Why not ask how the France Family has this final race shaping up? After all...they determine the winners and losers. WWE on asphalt and what was once a great competetive sport is now just another big money freak show.

Adam said...

Ask a guy nicknamed "Gentleman Ned" if he thinks drivers should act like jerks? Brilliant.

Monkeesfan said...

If those reporters are angry that Johnson and Edwards don't dislike each other, they're really fly off the deep end if they covered Petty and Pearson in their heyday - the only time they ever got onto each other was in Daytona's pressbox after the '74 Firecracker.

I've never understood the complaint by some fans about drivers being "vanilla." It's a stupid complaint; these guys are supposed to act like pros, and suddenly it's wrong that Johnson and Edwards act like pros?

Dave, Jaws Waltrip added nothing to the sport back in his heyday; NASCAR should have muzzled him big-time because he was a jerk and a buffoon.

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #9, Burton's snap at a reporter about Bristol being boring is not that good an example of clueless reporters asking dumb questions - the reporter who asked that question was on to something. Bristol is boring, period.

Richard in N.C. said...

Of course covering up for or ignoring bad or biased reporting makes one a party to it.

Jack Bauer said...

People have insinuated this could happen every year of Nascar. But for some reason it never does. ;)

It happened in F1 back in 1997 when Ferrari paid off the Sauber team and driver Norberto Fontana. Fontana was instructed to block Villenuve for as long as possible at every chance.

zieke said...

Every once in awhile you hear Tony let go on a reporter because of some stupid question. I guess that's the reason for these lengthy pre-race shows, other than sponsors knowing that their are a bunch of ignoramouses who are all ears to this junk. By the way, use your mute button when Waltrip is on, you will enjoy the race alot more.

Anonymous said...

I would guess that some of the fans who complain about Jimmie Johnson being vanilla are the same ones who liked the Intimidator.

Matt Kenseth said he was a "grown up" because he wouldn't wreck the 48 to help the 99. I guess that makes the Intimidator a fetus, since his idea of fair play was to wreck any car which kept him from winning.

I for one am glad the era of selfish, hoodlum behavior is over. Junior might not win as many races as his weasel father, but he's a real man with integrity.

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #17 - absolutely.

Anonymous said...

This is a litle different, but didn't somebody (RCR?)once enter a second car, only to have it drop out imediately to assure his driver a title? I swear I remember this. Some of these posts brought it to mind.

Anonymous said...

monkeesfan we all know you are the best that's ever have been at your monkeesthing and all you do and know. You remind me of the all knowing (is it Zarnack?) of Johhny Carson fame...I know you will have the answer and a comeback...Yes yes we all know you like 1 1/2 D shaped ovals and how they are the best racin on the planet. It's the COT's fault right that the leader gets 4 seconds out front and the rest of the field looks like a monkeesF..., well you get the picture. I also know you have perfect memory and you know how many times a pass was made in 1977 at your favorite boring place Pocono (now there's a modern and competitive racin facility if there ever was one). Seems like it takes longer to get around that track at race speds than it takes for Sarah Palin to murder a complete sentence, which is saying something now that the planet and jobs and joe the plummer bummer and mary the milk maid and getting to know the bridge to nowhere and fixing my ethics reports after the fact and you know it's all about the jobs and lower taxation and providing little (Big) bidness with the right laws and gettin there there and makin good policy in the senate and the free market (well, the free market that is actually free that is...no one really in the free market isn't without a little tax and regulatory help and now have their hands out big time fo a little mo hep).

See I told you Palin could finish a sentence before we got around Pocono. That's what we need, mo Poconos on the schedule! And mo dumb reporter questions and mo dump monkeyresponses. And here comes one...drumm roll please: monkeesF... you are up!

Anonymous said...

To answer someone else's question, yes, this did happen before. Neil Bonnett dropped out of the 1993 Atlanta race to help Earnhardt clinch the title. Sadly it turned out to be Neil's last race; he was killed in practice at Daytona three months later.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Neil Bonnett answer. I knew I didn't dream that.

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