Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stewart And Earnhardt Slam ESPN

It was just a NASCAR teleconference in a long line of media appearances and interviews to promote The Chase. The 12 drivers were on the line Wednesday when a reporter turned the topic to ESPN. Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke up.

The issue was about the use by ESPN of Stewart and crew chief Greg Zipadelli's radio exchange after the Richmond Sprint Cup Series race. What was offered to viewers and Internet users was the outburst immediately after the race, but not the apology that was offered minutes later. The clip was used all over the ESPN TV networks and the website.

"I think it's just poor taste by the networks and I'm seeing it too often," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., making reference to multiple problems this season.

"That's ESPN," said Stewart. "We've had a terrible relationship with ESPN for years. We've been very outspoken with them as a company about how they treat the drivers, treat the teams."

"They're a (TV) production team that wants to do everything they can to stir the pot up," continued Stewart. "It's no secret ESPN and I don't get along."

"Do they have a right to air it?" Stewart continued. "Absolutely. Trust me, if there's anything negative I do, ESPN is going to pick up on it and run with it every chance they get."

"That just shows you what's important to them (ESPN). It's not the positive things in the sport. They want to pick up on everything negative they can," said Stewart.

"It's taking it too far where they're putting those type of conversations on network television and it's getting the kind of press it's getting," said Earnhardt. "It looks terrible for Tony. (It was) heat of the moment. You're going to say things you regret and I'm sure he regrets saying what he said and maybe Zippy regrets coming back at him."

Earnhardt said teams had asked NASCAR to allow them to switch to digital radios that couldn't be monitored by fans and media, but the sanctioning body won't allow the change.

Stewart talked about the unique advantages that ESPN and other TV networks have in covering racing.

"Things that (in) no other sports you're allowed to do," said Stewart. "Bringing fans that close to us before we can get out of the car, being able to hear what's going on in the race, being able to hear the drivers and crew chiefs talk. That's one thing ESPN has been good about is being able to find different angles to bring the fans that much closer."

"It's just what angle do they want to work with and how they use that," Stewart said. "Should they or shouldn't they? I don't think it's right or wrong. I don't think right or wrong comes into play."

It's really about class...or the lack of it," said Earnhardt.

It was one day after these comments from Stewart and Earnhardt that ESPN the Magazine reporter Shaun Assael unleashed the Ron Hornaday "steroid story."

The 2008 Chase for the Championship begins Sunday afternoon in Loudon, NH on ABC.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

Here are some story links on this subject:
Smoke Takes Shot At ESPN Over Spat
Taking Swipe At ESPN
NASCAR's Stewart Downplays Spat With Crew Chief
Stewart Says Richmond Comments Were A Sign Of Passion


majorshouse said...

Tony and Junior were so on target that it is not even funny. Now if NASCAR would listen to two of its most popular drivers and would tell ESPN to either clean their act or up the contract would be voided would make things even better.
Not only do they hate the drivers, but it is quite obvious with the way that they have covered things this year, that they hate the fans as well.

Anonymous said...

I think they were on target, too... but asking NASCAR to switch no digital radios that the fans cannot listen to would be AWFUL. Maybe they do not know how many fans come to the track to tune in to their favorite driver and team. Not only do they learn so much, but they get a connection unlike any sport. To take that away would be awful. Switch to digital if you must, but it MUST be available to fans.

Dot said...

I don't really want to watch ABC, now known as Anything But Class since it's just #*%@ on a different channel. However, I want to see how the drivers, CCs, etc treat the reporters. I hope the drivers go digital with their mouths so they and we (sadly) can't hear them.

Here's a hint for the drivers. Only talk about the car's handling, etc during the race. DO NOT mention anything else. No sound bites, no worries.

majorshouse, I was just getting ready to publish when I read you. Ditto from Dot.

Sophia said...

Well, we have seen the interviews with Smoke and Jr that we'd have rather not seen.

but ESPN does not care. It's all about stirring the pot.

What I am truly starting to get SPEECHLESS about is the folks that run NASCAR ALLOWING THIS? Not "only" the tabloid treatment, but the horrible tv treatment to the fans?

UNTIL somebody locks Br France, Helton and Hunter in a room to FORCE them to watch exactly what the home fans get from ESPN, things will NEVER EVER CHANGE.

I doubt it they read the tabloid stories until forced to.

Then again, NASCAR hates when we or the drivers disagree with anything they do or 'Etch-a-Sketch' rule books.

I secong majorshouses comments but honestly, we are just spittin' in the wind at this point.

While I am not happy with ESPN, the "new NASCAR site" or the new " site from Hell", it's very obvious NA$CAR just cares about the $Green $$.

So they sold the broadcasts rights and TPTB sit on the money. Meanwhile, between the COT, boring tracks, dreadful coverage, zero practice coverage and quals by that Four Letter Word network, I am beginning to think we are criticizing the wrong people.

Maybe it's NA$CAR that truly DOES enjoy the tabloid WWE or WWF whatever that stuff is calle. :(

So far the MAIN improvement I noticed all season was TNT's coverage and how TNT brought back the FUN!

But only 6 races. Now the other network. Like going from a BMW to a Yugo.

The drivers have been unhappy about many things and I worry now what will happen to Jr and Tony with their public comments.

Erik said...

ESPN is just reflecting the culture of the US as a whole. Watching the national news, everything is about stirring the pot these days. NASCAR isn't immune.

darbar said...

I have to agree with Erik. This is the nature of our culture. When rag magazines sell so many copies of the trash they write, when the paparazzi go out of bounds to get that perfect photo, it's no wonder why this has now it's spread to Nascar. While the drivers think it's intrusive, and ESPN takes things to the extreme, this kind of thing will continue to happen. The drivers' only recourse may be to shut out ESPN reporters and refuse to do any interviews with them. But I would guess that the powers-that-be in Nascar would frown on such a job action.

Richard in N.C. said...

When I was growing up and used the "but, everyone is doing it" excuse, the response I received most of the time was "Would you jump off a bridge if everyone else did?" Stooping to the level of many others in the media does not make what ESPN does right.

Jo said...

Erik said...

ESPN is just reflecting the culture of the US as a whole. Watching the national news, everything is about stirring the pot these days. NASCAR isn't immune.

September 13, 2008 10:14 PM
What is popular is not always right
Whats right isn't always popular.

That said I agree with the others here who think its gone way to far.
This is TABLOID junk - not news. News involves a factual account of the ENTIRE story, not just an agenda driven headline grab to feed a 24 hour a day news cycle.

It involves ETHICS. Something espn hasn't had in a few years now. They used to have them & then they chose to drop them, why I have no idea. Probably to get the "story" right or wrong - out there first.
When a newspaper does this its called "yellow journalism" - now I call it espn.

2 of the most popular drivers have spoken out in a teleconference & another Carl Edwards spoke about it regarding Rons story tonight on TP. Menzer wasn't happy either, and he is a reporter - he said "the slant of the story" should have been one of overcoming Graves Disease.

E$PN has gnawed bloody the hands of those that feed it. NA$CAR has allowed it, so both are to blame.IMHO.
Until NA$CAR comes down on E$PN its "media partner" this "TABLOID CANNIBALISM" will continue.NA$CAR needs to have a meeting with its "media partner" akin to the "say no negative" meeting they gave the drivers earlier this year!

E$PN hates NA$CAR & its fans. Why else the lousy coverage & savage attacks? When was the last time you heard a "feel good" story about NA$CAR or its drivers? NEVER.
Yet let an NFL player shake a kids hand and we see it over and over.

Anonymous said...

I am so sick OF ESPN I could vomit, Thank God I have DirectTV and can watch Hot Pass so when they take over never have to hear Crusty's voice and hear they one sided crap

Sophia said...


WOW! Tabloid cannibalism. That's exactly what I was trying to get at but that's a perfect term.

Did you make that term up yourself? Sadly, it fits what we are talking about.

I googled it and couldn't find it in a quick search.

Jo said...

@sophia - yup I was so mad I erased & retyped till that one hit the page LOL it ain't often I get out a doozy like that, in this case it fits.

Thanks I'm glad you liked it, use it often if you wish ;)

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is being oddly inactive on this issue.

For some reason, the organziation that typically rules with an iron fist is allowing ESPN to do whatever it likes, even to the sport's detriment.

I can't figure out why this is, but it isn't good.

Anonymous said...

ESPN is just reflecting the culture of the US as a whole. Watching the national news, everything is about stirring the pot these days. NASCAR isn't immune.

Wow, maybe you can suggest a new slogan to your bosses at ESPN, Erik:

"ESPN--We're no worse than anyone else!"

Ken-Michigan said...

ESPN needs to focus on giving the fans / viewers a decent production FIRST.... before trying to stir the pot by airing the questionable radio communication.

Since July the ESPN coverage has been less than desirable, from a production standpoint. At times it has been downright terrible.

Now, it's time for the Chase. Is ESPN going to continue giving the NASCAR viewers mediocre production, or will they step it up and get with the program ??

Earlier this season people said the crew was "tired", had a "long" season ahead of them.... announcers took vacations to "rest up" for the remainder of the season... well, its time to step up and show US what you got.

Personally, I feel the Stewart / Zippy comments were OK to air, but those comments were way overblown by ESPN and therefore, overblown by other media outlets. That is simply how Tony and Greg communicate. They (Smoke and Zippy) understood what each other meant respectively.

Nobody needs to read "between the lines". It doesn't make for better TV or anything else.

ESPN needs to worry about covering the race and quit this tabloid journalism.

haus20 said...

During the rain delay yesterday, the "little" one was interviewing Vickers when Tony came walking by...she started chatting with him and he sarcastically said he was going to have 3 tv's in his new coach so he could have the 3 ESPNs on all the time...pretty funny I thought.

Dot said...

@ Jo,

Another ditto from Dot. Especially the comment about the drivers being negative.

If NASCAR is so powerful, why don't they rein in %#@* ? I wish we knew what the contract says. &$#@ seems to have breached something.

You'd think the NFL would be enough to keep $*^@ busy. They don't have to "tabloid" any of those players. The players create it themselves every week. A Cleveland player got pulled over for doing 120mph a couple of weeks ago. He just got the ticket in the mail.

Anonymous said...


My fervent hope to circumvent ESPN's coverage "plan":

That a non-Chase driver will dominate and win each Chase race this year.

Gymmie said...

I'd hate for the fans to lose the right to listen to the radios at the track and at home, but if ESPN keeps on with their mess it just might happen.

I'd SO love it for the guys to stop talking to ESPN. That would be SO funny!

@ken--yup that's the problem. There's no "problem" with them airing the radio conversations but they need to not make mountains out of molehills and play the WHOLE story.

When Kevin & Smoke got into each other, they made it seems as if they were going to brawl behind the haulers after the race. Anyone who knows them knows they're buddies and always work things out between them.

The same with Smoke & Zippy. They've been together for 10 years and most of the crew guys have been with him the same time. They're "rough" with each other however they know how to work things out.

Sophia said...


I don't watch Cincy Bengals games but hear about it on local talk radio. It's embarrassing how many of them had run in with the laws. THEN they let creepy Chris Henry back when Coach Marvin Lewis thought he was rid of him.

I don't look for Lewis to stay around long.

But yea, I started saying MONTHS ago I wondered why Iron Fist NASCAR was keeping silent. Then we were told they sold the rights to the tv partners to broadcast how they want. WTH ???

As I said and will repeat

:Make the big shots watch ESPN: for their information. Allow them access to NO online information or satellite tv.

See how happy they are.
i bet things would change IF they had a clue. . .

AND if they truly cared.

Fisha695 said...

All I have to say is Boo-fricken-who.

It's not like any other network covering any form of motorsport uses any different of a technique at trying to get ratings. Heck even the snobby F1 teams/drivers have these kinds of moments and SPEED airs them. It's part of the new tv/technology era of racing.

It was said that they didn't air the apology that was said minutes after Smoke flipped out. If there was an apology then why were Smoke and Zippy needed to be separated after the race?

As for Jr's little comment at the end about class. It isn't very classy to say what he said how he said it.... Is it?

Anonymous said...

fisha695 ???

Either put down the jack daniel's or preview your comments next time, :)J/K.
I take it you think since all are doing this tabloid stuff, it's the new era so get over it?

You are entitled to think that. Just wasn't quite following your comments. I had to re-read your last sentence 2 times. Didn't know if I was tired or you were multi-tasking.

Kyle said...

Maybe they should make it so ESPN and the networks can't use radios in highlights, or use them at all.

This way, fans can still keep up with drivers. Especially with ESPN since all they care about is the top 5 or 10. If your driver is below that then you are screwed to say the least. its gonna get even worse. If your driver isn't in the chase, don't even watch the telecast, you won't get anything. Unless it is something ESPN can use to "stir the pot". Which is all the Hornaday story was, as John pointed out in an earlier post.

Anonymous said...

Why is ESPN out to get Tony Stewart if they show him reacting madly? Sorry, but that is what all sports fans want to see - the human drama of competition.

I think NASCAR fans are mature and educated enough to know that right after a race a driver is heated and might say some thing he may later regret. And guess what - we want to see it. We want to see the emotion of the losers as much as the winners. It's no different than showing a baseball player destroy a water cooler after a strike-out, or a basketball manager having his profanitys directed at referees replayed on TV. Sure, they regret it... but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be shown!

The Smoke clip was played a lot. Well, it was an exciting clip. It isn't sleazy, or tabloid, or an agenda to get Stewart to play that clip. It is showing the competition at the highest level, and all the emotion and dedication that goes with it. The alternative - not showing it at all - would be awful.

Anonymous said...

PS I am surprised I am not reading a bigger fan reaction at the suggestion from Dale Jr that fans not be allowed to listen to radio communcations. I wonder if JR Nation feels that way? I think a majority of fans are listening at the tracks. They want to shut them out? Crazy!

stricklinfan82 said...

What ESPN has brought to NASCAR since their return in 2007 that they were missing from 2001-2006:

- Awful race coverage that ignores on-track racing to tell stories compiled in the pre-race script.

- Practice and qualifying coverage that ignores the on-track action with pre-taped garbage, full-screen stat displays and Tech Centers, and studio guests.

- Weekly tape-delayed practice sessions, practice sessions joined-in-progress, and practice coverage that leaves the air before the sessions end.

- Dumping races off of their originally scheduled network the second a drop of rain falls on the track.

- Races starting on a sparsely available TV channel or a sparsely available web site because the network badly miscalculated the previous event's average running time when setting its program schedule for the day... week after week after week after week.

- Drivers and teams being at odds with the network for constantly stirring the pot and irresponsibly fabricating 'controversies'. It's one thing to air 'heated' radio chatter. It's completely another to take that chatter out of context over and over and over again all over ESPN TV and the Internet and make a mountain out of a mole hill in the week that follows.

- ZERO credibility with some of their on-air talent choices. ("Welcome to the return of NASCAR on ESPN, I'm Chris Fowler!, among many many examples)

I just ask the obvious question.... why the hell does NASCAR continue to allow this to happen? NASCAR flourished from 2001-2006 when it dumped ESPN. Since 2007 ESPN has done nothing but swing its axe as hard and as often as possible to chop down the "NASCAR tree". Less and less NASCAR on TV and openly mocking the events they do cover as being "boring" on the air have been ESPN's trademarks. You might as well have those brothers that do the ESPN 'Cheap Seats' show as part of their NASCAR on-air team because ESPN's NASCAR coverage is no less of an 'open mockery of the event going on behind them' than that awful show is.

If NASCAR was smart (and based on their decision-making in the last several years I really have my doubts) they would find a way to dump this network as quickly as possible.

ESPN/ABC need NASCAR and the big ratings numbers that follow a lot more than NASCAR needs ABC/ESPN. It's time for NASCAR to wake up and smell the coffee before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

After watching this debacle called the COT, I've concluded that Nascar's interest lie in Entertainment and not Racing. I found it ironic that Junior gave his views on the issue of driver radio talk. Everyone knows that Junior beats Eury Junior like a rented mule on the radio every weekend. Theres an interview on Jayski with Junior and Hendrick where Rick asks Junior if Eury has slapped him for the way he talks to him.

ragtag said...

ESPN has gone down hill with their racing coverage ever since they dropped Thursday Night Thunder. I'm glad to hear Tony and Jr speak up about it.

Newracefan said...

While I'm Ok with the initial airing of the Smoke/ Zippy radio bit (kind of reminded me of a teenagers rant and Dad's reponse, and I don't mean that in a bad way racing would not be as much fun if the guys were happy to finish 2nd) even Clint's MW comments might have had a place, as long as both side of the story are given even treatment. That's the class part Jr is talking about because it is not what's happening. It appears there is someone in the audio booth who's only job is to listen to the chatter and find the most controversial nonexpletive comment to use each week. Then it's to distributed to all ESPN partners for the Nascar sound bit of the week with the occasional "scandel" like the way they treated Ron Hornaday. While I do not want the scanners to go digital because that is a big part of my race watching I don't blame them for asking. I still would like the drivers/crews to freeze out ESPN with the exception of Marty and Ed or give such limited access/ boring interview (we have a great car today and walk away) but still give Speed, Fox, TNT full interviews that ESPN is forced to be more appropriate with their tretment of Nascar. I have stopped reading anything on except Marty's or now Ed Hinton's pieces, NN is off my DVR except AB's Monday show, I do DVR everything Nascar on Speed.

Tucknut said...

ESPN reminds me of NBC and their despicable attempt at inciting acts of racism at a Martinsville Cup race several years ago. They hired Arabic students from Va Tech to pose as practicing Muslims and to try and entice NASCAR fans to display acts of racism towards them so NBC could portray NASCAR and it's fans in a bad light. When their attempts failed, NBC (as a last resort) instructed them to spread out blankets and pray during the race. No one reacted.
Just one example of how NBC and ESPN try to create news rather than just objectively report it.

Jo said...

Anonymous said...

Why is ESPN out to get Tony Stewart if they show him reacting madly? Sorry, but that is what all sports fans want to see - the human drama of competition.

September 14, 2008 2:29 AM
Its been going on now for a couple of years #$%^ vs Tony. He was a target on several occasions, one of which was the he said he was gonna go home, buy a case of beer and drink till he saw cardboard.
#$%^ talking heads decided it was awful to promote drinking "that way" it was the talk for about a week. Really waaay overblown. TB started again about magnetgate. . search #$%^ website for Tony and you can read & view it all.
BTW I want to see the dang race - on the track , & practice & quals too. Not just drama. When I want drama I'll call my mother in law, thanks

majorshouse said...

I think what is going to get to get NASCAR's attention is for all of the manufacturers to pull out like Dodge has done in the truck series. If they lose this money, then mayb ethey will decide to do something positive for the entire sport, including this ridiculous tv package, the awful COT and this stupid chase where all they are doing is racing for the chase until the chase is here and the rest of the competitors be damned.

Anonymous said...

Dodge pulling out is about the condition of the American car manufacturers losing buckets of money. Is ESPN obligated to fix that problem too? They have enough issues of their own to worry about.

Sharon said...

We live in a tabloid society. ESPN is about "breaking" a story no matter the truth. I have never liked ESPN and all of this just validates my opinion of them.

haus20 said...

The NFL does seem to have better control over how their product is being portrayed on ESPN. If you remember a few years ago, "Playmakers" was pulled off of ESPN because the NFL didn't like it.

NASCAR needs to step up and take control.

Anonymous said...

This is another example of how the actual racing has become secondary to the show . Fans are terrified that NASCAR would even consider digital or scrambled radios between the drivers and crews . In truth , the digital radios wouldn't change anything for the fan that loves the race and not just the window dressing . Knowing that JRs car is snug by listening to him on the scanner tells you nothing . And by the way , if you put down the scanner and watch the cars you can see for yourself if JR is snug or pushy loose . It isn't really rocket science . You watch for the angle of the front tires in the corners .
NASCAR will not consider digital because they couldn't charge the fans for scanners , hot pass , etc . The France family makes a very comfortable living off of giving the fans the illusion that they are part of the " behind the scenes action " in NASCAR . And believe me , it IS an illusion .
I can't see that what the teams and drivers say to one another during the race is any business of the fans .
Now you want a great scanner experience , hook up the NASCAR officials ( not Brian , he rarely goes to the races ) and listen to them debating when to bring out one of their phoney " debris cautions " and why .

Adam T. Martin said...

ESPN does not to clean up, but I'd rather have them then cheesy TNT.

Adam T. Martin said...

Scratch that, ESPN DOES need to clean up and show some class. Give us Bob Jenkins.

Better than TNT though. I cannot stand them.

Shelby said...

I think Nascar runs a risk of losing long time fans if ESPN continues to bring down drivers and Nascar itself.

Anonymous said...

Simply put, ESPN is trying to drive up ratings for its section of the season.

Because the ratings are NOT GOOD. The rainout last week destroyed the race's ratings; a guy whose website analyzes general TV ratings said he'd never seen NASCAR come in that low. The rainout that's probably going to happen today won't help, but the ratings for NASCAR on ESPN so far haven't been good even when the races have been run on schedule. The Chase ratings last year were abysmal.

ESPN is replaying these incidents on their shows and in the ads advertising the Chase races in the hopes that some "casual" fans will be interested and tune it. This was Brian France's reason for wanting ESPN in the package.

You may disagree with it, or say there are no casual fans, but that's what he wanted.

It's a catch-22. Fans may want ESPN proper to lay off the drivers (i.e, not treat them the way they treat athletes in every other sport. I'm not feeling real sorry for Tony, you know?) They might do it. But you know what? ESPN proper will just ignore NASCAR in return. They'll dutifully cover the winner of the race and a minute of highlights, and then purposefully ignore anything else that's going on, even more than they do now.

As mentioned above, NASCAR doesn't have the pull with ESPN that the NFL (and NBA) do, mainly because NASCAR doesn't have the powerful commissioners that those sports do. (The cancellation of the excellent "Playmakers" series mentioned above - rent it on DVD! -is THE prime example of the NFL's power.) And NASCAR isn't bringing in the expected ratings in its almost two years on the family of channels, so that's another way NASCAR's pull is limited.

The NBA ratings aren't as as strong as they used to be circa the Jordan years, but they're good and increased this year. NASCAR can't make that claim. The personalities of the NBA game are just as big of TV attractions for interviews and coverage as they ever were. ESPN won't risk losing those guys and the NFL guys - but they don't care nearly as much about losing Stewart and Jr.

Trust me on that.

Jo said...

the king brian France needs to get a grip. He is clueless. And to busy buying up other racing series. Needs to mind the $$$maker.

Anonymous said...

As far as the radioes going to digital, I hope they don't do this. We already miss so much of the races that sometimes the only way we know what's going on with a driver is by hearing them on the radio.

Too many commercials leads to too many missed cautions and pit stops. Instead they come back from commercial to show us a quick replay of what we missed while they were raking in more dollars.

Given RACEVIEW I don't see them changing the radio situation anytime soon. Nascar makes too much off of it.

Either way it's nice to know that Smoke and Junior have stuck to their guns and told us what we think. Too bad ESPN won't be airing the interview anytime soon. I'd like to hear it.

As for Junior and Eury Jt people need to remember that while Tony and Zippy have been together for ten years, the Jr's have been together for 33. What happens during a race ends with the white flag.

Anonymous said...

The rainout last week destroyed the race's ratings; a guy whose website analyzes general TV ratings said he'd never seen NASCAR come in that low.

NASCAR should be a little worried about this IMHO. The rescheduled Richmond was on TV at 1 PM Eastern Sunday, the time when a whole lot of people say all NASCAR races should start the racing, every week. It shouldn't have made a difference it was on Sunday afternoon, it should have been better for us, everybody knew it was rescheduled way in advance.

Hmmm...maybe we better get used to bad TV ratings going against Sunday football.

Anonymous said...

I'll give you an example of why the regular, traveling NASCAR media is seen as a bunch of PR people who spoil drivers like Stewart and Earnhardt Jr:

David Poole is not in NH today. He is covering the first-ever NHRA race in Concord, NC. He's been covering it for that's racin all week.

John Force didn't make the show. So today David Poole - again, covering his first NHRA race - has a column claiming that Force should have been giving a provisional and it hurts the sport that 59 year old Force isn't racing today.

I don't even watch NHRA and was insulted by this column. I was thrilled to see every comment but one on the column, which appear to be from regular viewers, all completely slam Poole. Comments include:

-For gosh sakes I hope know one with the NHRA ever hires anyone from Nascar to change stuff around.

-This is what's wrong with the NASCAR world - media thinking just because you're a popular driver you deserve to be in the show. If John Force was fast enough, he'd be in the show.

No wonder the built-in mediocracy of NASCAR is beginning to show up in the form of empty stands.

-David, you are wrong, but you're not seeing quite why. NHRA drivers get several opportunities to qualify for a race (weather permitting). If Dale Earnhardt Jr. cut a tire in a qualifying run and didn't get to race, that would be wrong. A cut tire's a fluky thing and NASCAR only gives you one shot. But Force got his chances.

Just goes to show how out-of touch the regular NASCAR media is with the rest of the sports and motorsports world. (And Poole is doing the same thing ESPN is accused of doing - covering something he knows nothing about and making uninformed opinions about it.) This is also why the drivers act spoiled: Waaah! You asked me a hard question, Shannon Spake! You're not supposed to do that! - and expect something totally different from than they're getting from the "real world" of ESPN.

Jo said...

That makes no sense, & what has NHRA & David Poole got to do with this?

Anonymous said...

Why does it have to do with NASCAR? It's exactly as I said. The NHRA issue shows how much Poole has swallowed the NASCAR Kool-Aid - basically saying the NASCAR way - provisionals and top 35 exemptions - should be applied to other motorsports. The NASCAR way is the right way. It's an arrogant way of thinking and it goes to the mindset of the way regular reporters cover NASCAR.

Then on top of that, Poole and the others treat the drivers with kid gloves. Poole will hit NASCAR itself hard, but not the drivers.

So... and this is the connection... when the drivers come across the way ESPN works - "tough" interviews (they're really not that tough, with a few exceptions), the capturing and replaying of eye-catching video from the event like they do with other sports - video which may not make a NASCAR driver look like Miss America --- they're shell shocked and whine "We're not used to being treated this way!!! ESPN has no class!!! You're only supposed to ask us nice questions!!!"

If Poole and company didn't treat them like they were perfect, they wouldn't be shocked by ESPN.

Anonymous said...

"They're a (TV) production team that wants to do everything they can to stir the pot up,"

JD you and ESPN have alot in common.

Jo said...

OK I get your point now.

That may be true to a point - what is it with #$%^ running NA$CAR into the ground. Surely the drivers must on occasion do something right. And it isn't reported. #$%^ NEEDS TO clean up its act across the board period .

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that SPEED used the clip of Tony throwing things inside the car for every show this weekend. Does that make them better than ESPN?

Daly Planet Editor said...

If ESPN had simply put the Stewart video and the audio in context, they could have used it a million times.

The key is that as one poster said, ESPN is trying to drive interest to NASCAR and they are doing it any way possible.

The point we are discussing is if that approach is going to result in NASCAR becoming the NFL, where reporters have no access to athletes on the sideline and only scheduled interviews after the game is over that are included in the TV contract.

It is the access vs. reporting issue that NASCAR has struggled with since ESPN returned to the sport in 2007.


red said...

anon 11:10 AM said (in part):
"Fans may want ESPN proper to lay off the drivers (i.e, not treat them the way they treat athletes in every other sport.)"

i, for one, am not looking for espn to 'lay off' the drivers. what i am looking for is for them to place comments in context, give the responses to comments equal air time and to tell BOTH sides of the story. and all of that is nothing more than they should do regardless of which sport they are broadcasting.

as for giving fans/media the opportunity to listen to driver/crew chief comments. theoretically, nascar is all about giving fans accesss to the drivers in a way that does not exist in other sports. even though i do not use a scanner during the race, i would not want to see that go away. BUT i am soooo weary of fans thinking they know what's going on among the indivdiuals involved based on what they hear during the race and then slamming either or both parties based on their "understanding." i've said it before: in the moment, in the heat of the competition, any athlete says things that he/she would not want anyone to hear. that's simply part of competition. for fans to take comments made at that moment and state that they KNOW, for example, how earnhardt and eury are falling apart or how gordon and letarte are furious with each other is beyond irrational. in my opinion, it's downright silly. go ahead and listen, enjoy the emotions you hear and the inside view it affords. but don't think that you know how the parties are feeling even 30 seconds after those comments. just ridiculous.

that brings me to espn and their use of driver audio. in and of itself, maybe not so much of an issue. but taken in the context of their actions all season, in print, on tv and online? then it starts to show a pattern that is troubling, a pattern of going for the quick and sensational moment and not doing the hard work as reporters or journalists to get the information correct and at least attempt to get all sides heard. IF espn had put the entire exchange between tony and zippy out there, including tony's apology after the fact, then there would be no discussion. the reality is that they didn't: they had the audio available to them, audio that would have given a deeper and more accurate view of what hapened and they CHOSE to not use it. for whatever reaon, they made the decision to keep running only the original comment, much as they did with the bowyer/waltrip audio mess.

that choice was, in my opinion, the wrong one and it is the same wrong one that espn defaults to repeatedly. as a result, they have degraded their reliability and fans have already begun to respond to that -- just read how many folks on this one blog have stated that they are finished with espn in any variety of ways.

do i want to see espn suffer the consequences of their choices? you bet i do: i want drivers and crew chiefs and owners to politely refuse to be interviewed by espn. i want folks to say "we had a good car today" and then walk away. i want publicists to say "no, i'm sorry, he's not available to you for interviews." and i want fans to turn the channel, to not buy the magazine, to not click into the website. you bet your bottom dollar that's what i want to see.

and i want nascar to understand how incredibly destructive the actions of some of the people who have been hired by espn have been to our sport. i want nascar to call espn on the carpet, read them the riot act and make it clear that this continued pattern of bad choices will not be tolerated.

and you know WHY i want that to happen? because there are journalistic standards that are important, that are of value, that should be followed. and some at espn just aren't doing the work that is required to meet those standards. it matters in sports reporting and it matters in political reporting and it matters in ALL reporting. and espn is clearly not holding their employees to those standards.

i know what i can and have been doing as a fan: i have turned off all things espn, except the actual race and i have told espn why. i am now going to email espn each week for the next 10 weeks and remind them of why i have turned them off. and unless changes are announced for 2009, i will continue to boycott them thru that season as well. now, it's up to other fans, teams, and nascar to determine what they will do to hold espn accountable for their choices.

GinaV24 said...

I agree that ESPN needs to be more even in their approach to NASCAR. Just be fair in their reporting. I think that Jr and Stewart had good points. I would absolutely HATE it if I couldn't follow my driver by listening to the scanner. I hope that doesn't happen because it would be a big negative thing for NASCAR fans, but ESPN shouldn't be able to just use things out of context and trash the drivers and the sport. I've already said how unhappy I am with what they did to Ron Hornaday. Are these people just stupid? Or is only sensationalism that sells?

red said...

anon @1:18 said:
"anonymous said...
Has anyone noticed that SPEED used the clip of Tony throwing things inside the car for every show this weekend. Does that make them better than ESPN?"

here's why it's different for me: when i saw that happen, i was free to think that maybe smoke was mad at himself, or maybe at jimmie or maybe at the car. when i saw that happen, i most certainly did NOT think he was angry at his team. and i WAS shocked at how he spoke to zippy and i was disappointed -- UNTIL i was able to hear zippy's response right back to him.

but you have a point: for speed to continue to keep using that footage without putting it into the bigger context is wrong. however, as i position in my earlier post, this sort of poor judgement is a pattern of behavior for espn. in my opinion, it is not a pattern that speed has demonstrated.

Jo said...

We have canceled the mag, emailed and called to let them know why ( we like the every week idea & will do that also) We have removed our account at the website & told them why. I'm stuck watching the actual race since we cannot get sat TV here.
In addition we are writing & rewriting thoughtfully crafting a letter we will send to our different drivers SPONSORS, to let them know why ratings are down. At least in our home. And the ALTERNATE methods we are using to get Their driver & Team info.
We fans need to use all venues to get our displeasure across to as many as possible

Anonymous said...

A question - Has anyone noticed Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have never appeared to "call out" ESPN for negative interviews or reporting? Please correct me if I'm wrong, maybe I'm not remembering right, but I can't recall either of them ever having anything negative to say about ESPN or appear abnormally upset with a question.

Gordon has had some tougher questions directed to him this year IMHO. But he doesn't seem to ever get upset about it. The video of him pushing Matt Kenseth after a race a couple years back was shown a zillion times, on both ESPN and Speed Channel (SC used the video in race promos). I don't remembering him claiming victimhood over it. Or them getting upset about questions when their crew chiefs get suspended (not the most infrequent situation either!)

Perhaps Jimmie and Jeff have a more realistic perspective of their (prominent) place on ESPN and in the overall sports world than Dale Jr and Tony do. meaning they understand how ESPN works.

red said...

thanks, jo. i agree; as fans, we DO have a voice and we need to be using it, respectfully, thoughtfully and unemotionally. we have a responsibility to tell espn why we are unhappy and what we are asking they do to change. we have a responsibility to communicate to sponsors our dissatisfaction: not to threaten, not to bully, but to explain. we have a responsibility to be as "dispassionately passionate" as we can when communicating with all the parties involved.

individually, it may do little. but voice after voice, it will build. then, and only then, chnage becomes possible. not probable, maybe not even likely. but certainly possible.

red said...

anon @1:50: i understand what you're saying. but i dont recall espn playing comments made by either gordon or johnson over and over again as they have done to both stewart and earnhardt jr and others. i know that gordon and johnson are just as vocal and frustrated with anything and everything during the race and that their crew chiefs and spotters have heard their wrath. but espn rarely plays any other their audio and certainly doesn't play it repeatedly and without context. even when the 2 of them were beating on each other and jj just would NOT give an inch to gordon, we didn't hear THAT audio repeatedly. we heard it a few times and then it was gone. that's a gigantic difference from what we've been getting with stewart and others.

as an aside, earnhardt jr has historically been very, very quiet on such matters. for whatever reasons, this season, he's speaking his mind more than he ever has and, in my opinion, it's about time.

glenng said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AndyPandy said...

I would be very happy to see all of the drivers answer the ESPN reporters with one or two word replies to every question.

"Tony, how's your car today?"

"Kyle, what happened out there with Jr.?
"We wrecked"

"Jeff, what does this finish do for your championship hopes?"
"Hurts it."

Id find it very entertaining to watch the frustration on the faces of the reporters and then wait for the booth guys to try to explain those informative answers to the tv viewers. Maybe they would finally get the idea that it's easier to work with the drivers rather than against them.

And why is it that almost every one of the comments defending ESPN is posted anonymously? I sure wish this was a registration-based forum.

Anonymous said...

If you really read the anon comments, you would see several ( I count at least nine scrolling through and catching up with today's comments right now) aren't happy with ESPN.

Get over the anon/not anon thing, y'all (meaning the small number who constantly remark about it). It's getting very old and repetitive.

My thoughts on ESPN? I'm Ok with them most of the time. I remember Mike Massaro asking too many questions of Jr last year, but other than that, I'm cool with whatever they ask post race.It's their job. The only thing I don't like is if they bring up something negative in the pre-race show right before the drivers are supposed to get in the car. Saying last week you were horrible and you had a bad crash, what's different this week? Valid question, but I don't think they should bring up every bad thing happened to a driver the week before 15 minutes before the race when a driver is trying to mentally prepare.

Anonymous said...

So... and this is the connection... when the drivers come across the way ESPN works - "tough" interviews (they're really not that tough, with a few exceptions), the capturing and replaying of eye-catching video from the event like they do with other sports - video which may not make a NASCAR driver look like Miss America --- they're shell shocked and whine "We're not used to being treated this way!!! ESPN has no class!!! You're only supposed to ask us nice questions!!!"
Yes, and unfortunately, the more this happens and the more often NASCAR drivers complain, it makes them look like they've been in a sheltered cocoon or a time capsule - stuck inside along with the NASCAR media.

PS David Poole must not understand the concept of drag racing is the fastest dragsters compete each week. Come back next week if you're not fast enough. No exceptions. No star system. Some racing fans appreciate this concept.

Anonymous said...

I did not feel that Jr. was slamming as much as trying to get the media to understand what it is like from the other side. How would they like someone tapping into them in such an invasive way and broadcasting it to the world.

I do not listen to a driver because there are times I have been under pressure and said things I wish I would not have, and I think that the drivers are entitled to their privacy.

At least nobody wants to put what I say on worldwide TV. : )

My guess is that it takes a compromise of give and take, what is broadcast and what isn't. I think that the drivers are trying to do what they can to keep the fans happy, if used carefully to keep away problems. Of course the media is expected to report what is going on. Maybe some kind of guidelines...?

Anonymous said... for Tony...after what he is reported to have said in the Rolling Stone article, and I have not and will not read the article, being upset about what he said after the Richmond race is small potatoes!

Anonymous said...

It was a cheap shot and a non-story to pull on Hornaday. This isn't Aaron Fikes or Shane Hmiel doing illegal drups. Apparently ESPN reporters aren't smart enough to know that some types of steriods are prescribed legally for REAL illnesses. FOX has it all over ESPN. The only positive I find in their broadcasts is Dale Jarrett.

glenng said...

thats sad censorship jb. Nothing I said was harmfull. Every thing I said, related to a ongoing pattern by the same ol people. Nothing offencive. It seems to me you have the power of the bully pulpit. If censorship is your game, fine I'll censor your blog by not reading or posting here again.

Jaded by The Ad Show that is NASCAR said...

Like FOX wouldn't have (or haven't) used so called controversial driver/crew conversations to boost ratings. NBC, CBS, TNT would have done it as well--entertainment outlets like two things: sex and controversy. And Speed TV encourages Spencer and Wallace to be to climb out on to the limb of outrageous commenting every weekend.

NASCAR is all about "entertainment" by whatever means necessary. This "controversy" is just another way to get the product out to the consumers.

It's the nature of the beast. And depending on who if your favorite driver is involved or not is the deciding factor of whether or not this really bothers you.

KoHoSo said...

There is always going to be a P.T. Barnum aspect to anything related to entertainment. However, there comes a time that a line gets crossed. Personally, I think that line has been being trampled upon in many ways since NASCAR consolidated its television contracts. But, that rant aside, I am glad to see Tony and Dale speak up about this one facet of ESPN. Goodness knows it can't be easy for them because there's got to be pressure on all of the drivers from both sponsors and NASCAR to not blow off ESPN interview requests or give curt answers.

What gets me is that, while traditionally a rough and tumble sport, NASCAR has always presented itself as a "family values" type of organization. We sure haven't seen many of those values over the past few years, and that would include what my father always told me was The Eleventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not be a pain in the a55." And, in its way, ESPN is "bearing false witness" by presenting Tony's radio comments over and over again without the full context.

ESPN has indeed made many improvements over last year. I can only hope that they will again perform a deep reflection and reevaluation during the off-season -- and again I say here that I hope much of that is spent watching tapes of the good ol' days with Bob, Benny, and Ned when off-track stories were covered fully and appropriately but never totally overshadowed the action on the track.

Daly Planet Editor said...


At no time is anyone, including myself, going to be allowed to denegrate anyone else on a personal note.

Simply by returning and re-posting your comment without the hate speech you could have joined the tens of thousands who have commented on this site for the last 21 months without a problem.

I understand the need for free speech, but on the Internet it must be balanced with a strong message that personal attacks will not be tolerated or this site will quickly become like so many others.

I am sorry you are upset, but hope you will think about what I am saying and re-post. Your comment made sense, if just needed to be rephrased.


Anonymous said...

Tony and Junior are absolutely right, but it's not just ESPN who does this. All of the networks who cover NASCAR does this. Junior should know this, as people like Jeff Gordon can rail on 30 drivers over his radio any given Sunday, but should one of them be Junior for something during a race - the first thing they will do is interview Jeff and ask about what happened with Junior and quote (usually misquote) what he said on the radio. (e.g. bumpdrafting in the turn) Never mind he was on the radio about it with several drivers, they would try to start a dramatic war between the 24 and 8.

That's toned down a bit this year since the two are now teammates, although you know if there's any chance to try to create a riff, the press will pounce on it. Another Hendrick stablemate will have to use a different line than Junior, or vice versa Junior will have to work a different line than the 24 at a plate track, and it'll be headlines news.....why didn't so and so go with so and so?

Just this past race at New Hampshire - what's the big discussion after the race??? Jeff Burton and Dale Jr. Like none of the other 41 cars rubbed and raced all day.....Jeff Burton, why did you touch Jr's car?

The networks know what they're doing. TNT is the only one that admits it. It's all about the drama. Start fires and then fan them, and enjoy the ratings.

They were spanking it with the Kyle Busch vs. Carl Edwards fiasco. They even dissed on NASCAR saying, "Ah, what does probation mean, anyway?", begging for the melees to continue - good for ratings!

I tip my hat to Tony and Jr on this one. Hopefully any time the press tries to do it, all the drivers follow this line of thinking, and tell the reporters to shove their mics where the sun don't shine.

zieke said...

Well, I guess that explains why I like Tony Stewart. He knows that ESPN people are jerks, and he does'nt like it one bit. Do you blame him for taking a shot at them? They deserve everything they get.