Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Who Says ESPN Broke The Junior Story?

There was a big grin on the face of NASCAR Now host Erik Kuselias on Tuesday evening. In dramatic fashion, he told the viewers that ESPN had "broken" the story of Dale Earnhardt Junior moving to Hendrick Racing. Then, he brought on reporter Marty Smith, who was introduced as "the man who broke the story." Wait a minute, is that screaming I hear?

The collective yells heard after Kuselias made that statement came from the print, Internet, and radio reporters who had been on the Earnhardt story since the press conference at JR Motorsports was announced. Early Tuesday afternoon, the ESPN.com website still had only one story saying Earnhardt's best opportunity was with Gibbs Racing. Nothing else about Junior's future, just this one story.

When the press conference was announced, telephone calls were placed to the major teams that were in the running for Junior's services. One-by-one, they denied their involvement until the only "big boy" remaining was Hendrick Motorsports. Back when I was in High School, we called this the "process of elimination."

Almost simultaneously, stories began to appear by several major news organizations and NASCAR "beat writers" about this developing situation. One of the websites that was updated with this new information was ESPN.com. There was also local Charlotte writer David Poole, the AP with Jenna Fryer, and even Jayski.com had an on-going and constantly updating story. The story itself was "breaking" because of the press conference announcement.

Don't get me wrong for one second, we like and respect Marty Smith. But, NASCAR Now comes on at 6:30PM and Erik Kuselias clearly said "ESPN broke this story." He then introduced Marty as the man who broke it. There is a very big fundamental problem with those two statements. The problem is NASCAR Now.

NASCAR Now is the same TV series that had a black hip-hop DJ as the host who then mysteriously "disappeared" a while back. He knew absolutely nothing about NASCAR and squinted a lot. NASCAR Now is the same show that had Kasey Kahne on live to ask him if he "still stood by his statement that David Stremme was fat." NASCAR Now is the same program that would not show Busch Series highlights on Sunday...of ESPN's own Busch races.

NASCAR Now has the "well-intentioned" comments of Brad Daugherty as their "expert analyst" in the studio. NASCAR Now has Tim Cowlishaw from Around The Horn who yesterday said the problem with NASCAR is..."they have no rules." NASCAR Now is the same show that gives five minutes to review the ESPN.com NASCAR Fantasy League, and then does not show Craftsman Truck highlights.

NASCAR Now is struggling in almost every way possible. They promote their own NASCAR Busch Series races, but not the NEXTEL Cup events...because they are carried on other networks. They promote their own ABC/ESPN IndyCar and NHRA events inside NASCAR Now, but not the Craftsman Truck Series races. They completely ignore the NASCAR Regional Touring Series.

Since NASCAR Now came on the air, it has been about ESPN and ABC Sports and not about NASCAR. Now, after one solid hour on Monday of ridiculing NASCAR in almost every possible way, the lead story on Tuesday is that ESPN is suddenly the leader in NASCAR news? That somehow we are supposed to believe Erik Kuselias when he says "ESPN broke the Dale Junior to Hendrick story." Sorry guys, not buying it. No sale.

If this had been Allen Bestwick, Ryan Burr, Mike Massaro, or even Jerry Punch viewers might have listened...and believed. But, we have seen Erik Kuselias bash NASCAR at every turn, question every decision, and hype every tiny racing incident into a major problem. He has never established the kind of credibility he needs to have for NASCAR fans to believe what he says. Why should they?

There is only one voice that answers when the question is "who says ESPN broke the Junior story?" That voice is Erik Kuselias, and he screams...ESPN does!!

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


Anonymous said...

Well, John, this time I think you're wrong. Marty Smith was, as far as I was able to tell while chasing down the story, the first reporter to say that he was told by a specific source that Junior would be going to HMS and would drive the 5 car, and it was posted on ESPN.com's site before others had it.

Give him credit where it's due.

Gary said...

Maybe Marty was the first to actually deduct and come out and say he was going to Hendricks. Maybe Marty was the first to make the calls to all the car owners that were in the market for Jr. I'm sure some of it was self promotion by Nascar Now, but after reading this article, I have no more idea who actually broke the story. Perhaps it was Marty.

Anonymous said...

This sort of thing is nothing new to The Four Letter, as you probably know.

The Internet is full of stories about The Four Letter stealing credit for stories broken by legit reporters.

The Big Lead had a response from Dave Aldridge over The Four Letter stealing credit for something NBA related he broke. And then he had the gall to correct it. Since he is a former employee there, that was interesting.

Another "must read" is Phil Mushnick at the New York Post. His columns blast The Four Letter week in and week out for essentially the same stuff NASCAR fans are now seeing.

GinaV24 said...

I only tuned in to see what ESPN might have to say about the Jr story and almost fell on the floor with shock when I heard EK make that statement. Considering that I had seen it on the internet from other sources long before Nascar Not-Now came on the air. I haven't watched this show in its entirety with EK as a host since the first week it was on. They used a lot of film in the 1/2 hour so it made it almost bearable, but only minimally so and to make claims that aren't true -- well, it must be TV -- fiction made fact. ESPN & NASCAR Now had very little credibility with me up to this point and they lost even more yesterday. What a joke this show is -- and we have a whole hour of stupidity to look forward to tonight -- I just hope they have Bestwick or Burr hosting it -- so we can get some real racing perspective and not just EK pontificating.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the comments, but my question is...ESPN broke this story where? The days of the morning newspaper are long gone. NASCAR Now does not come on until 6:30 PM. Were they talking about ESPN.com? ESPN News? SportsCenter? The ESPN2 ticker? My sources tell me there are a lot of upset reporters in NASCAR land right now. Hey, did I just break that story?

TCBritt said...

the only thing that could make all right in the world is if this is proven to be a huge fake-out, if Jr is pulling one over on everyone, had some of his connections release misleading info to give the press this idea that he is going to HMS, i cant believe everyone, including local news channels, are reporting this as absolute truth, instead of what is it, more Jr speculation the only thing that could get more publicity than Jr announcing his intent to drive for HMS is for everyone to be reporting he's going to HMS and then in his actual announcement he says hes going elsewhere, i guess we will see in a few hours

Tim said...

ESPN broke the story because ESPN told us they broke the story. And if ESPN says that, then it must be true. :)

Thomas said...

John Daly, if you had done some research instead of making it a another personal attack on Erik Kuselias, here's what you should have found on your own. Neither David Poole nor Jenna Fryer ever definitely said Junior was going to Hendrick. Here are the lines from Poole's story:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will announce his Nextel Cup plans for 2008 and beyond Wednesday, and it appears he will join four-time Nextel Cup champion Jeff Gordon and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson to drive for Hendrick Motorsports.

Poole says "it appears." He did not stick his neck out there. He left himself an out.

Here's the lead line from Jenna's story:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has decided where he will drive next season, and all signs point to Hendrick Motorsports.

She also left herself an out at the end of the story:

It's still possible Earnhardt could end up at Richard Childress Racing, where his father won six of his seven championships, or Joe Gibbs Racing. But Childress is out of the country, and the assistant to Gibbs president J.D. Gibbs said Gibbs is away all week.

Marty on the otherhand said this:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Wednesday will announce his intent to drive the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in 2008, multiple sources with intimate knowledge of negotiations told ESPN.com Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Daly, you notice Marty says "will announce" NOT "it appears" or "all signs point to." Marty had it nailed while the others were covering their backsides. I think you need to give credit where credit is due.

Joe from Philly said...

my sources tell me that most at ESPN believe they could exist without the sports they cover.

Tim Robinson said...

Marty Smith did nothing more than break the same info that David Poole and Jenna Fryer put out some time before.

I heard David break this info early into the show after his on Sirius radio. I think around noon or so EDT.

Erik Whatever-his-name-is is nothing more than a clueless quasi-news reader who is more concerned about his "looks" than anything else.

And how the heck did Tim Cowlishaw annoint himself as some sort of NASCAR expert? Before this year, I doubt he ever wrote anything, positive or negative, about NASCAR at the Dallas Morning News. Now he is some sort of "expert?" BULL-DOOKEY! He is a schmuck!

And while I am on it, nothing against Brad Daughtery, but he needs to go back to racing in a straight line, and quit trying to make people think he is some sort of fans advocate!

Jerry Punch is the only one I hold in high regard at ESPN as it relates to NASCAR.

Now if we can only get rid of the TOTALLY ANNOYING FULL THROTTLE. What a waste of bandwidth!

Anonymous said...

You are way off the mark with your criticism of John Daly as it pertains to Erik Kuselias. Daly's so called "personal attacks" are all about Kuselias'on-air performances. If it were "personal" as you claim, he'd say Erik smells bad. Daly is spot on when it comes to ESPN editorial content. They are out of touch with the fan base and uninformed about the sport. I do not recall seeing a 'time stamp' on Marty Smith's pronouncement, but AOL had the story in the early afternoon.

SophiaZ123 said...

Ok..I just had to say, I love the nikname "NASCAR Not Now" :-)

And it does appear Marty was the one to word things first in a DEFINITIVE manner.

Otherwise, John, I do not know how we would prove or disprove your point. For all I knew, maybe ESPN announced it earlier and Eric was CONFIRMING that's where Marty's story broke first.

Not that I am defending the bombastic EK. He seems to THINK he is doing a good job on his own.

I HOPE AB is hosting tonights HOUR show.

ALSO, remember to listen at 6PM as NASCAR Not -Now will come on then.

Odd, they don't extend their time as opposed to coming on earlier but that has been mentioned before.

I for one am just glad to see Jr looking HAPPY and seeing the shrub get pruned.

Richard in NC said...

If anyone deserves the credit for "breaking" the story of where Dale, Jr. is going then it probably should be DW - since he predicted it on the air and in print over a week ago. Also, I do believe John deserves a great deal of credit for pointing out NASCAR NOW's failings with a view to trying to get ESPN to give NASCAR fans what we should expect from what RPM2NIGHT was. Thank you.

SophiaZ123 said...

richard in nc, you are correct in your comments about DW but his was speculation...or a hunch he could not say in public maybe?

Also, I would like to thank John again for providing this site.

I do not feel it is to just bash things but like richardnc said, to give NASCAR fans what they DESERVE.

Eric's screaming as he read the emails tonight was so annoying.

But not as annoying as the cutting off Jr mid sentence in a potentially good interview.

Oh, my.

Thanks again john.

ALSO, I love the fact you are NOT AFRAID to post long articles. In this sound bite world where the media thinks we all have the attention span of gnats, I enjoy your long columns.

I especially love the praise you have given to some of the great shows on SPEED but I wish SPEED were on standard cable here. We had to upgrade to digital to get it.

ESPN should put out classier shows with PEOPLE who LOVE NASCAR!

And stop with the female interviewers. I am sick of the Barbie- ization of talking heads in the media.
I would rather listen to an older guy that has been around the sport for years.

Anonymous said...

Marty Smith looks like a friggin' bobblehead when he appears on camera. It's distracting and he looks ridiculous. Is no one critiquing his on-camera performance? Someone buy him a neck brace. He makes me dizzy.