Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sprint Cup Owners Continue In TV Roles


It's been a topic here at TDP since 2007. Starting with the day that the first blog post was published, there have been strong feelings about current Sprint Cup Series owners who are actively involved in shaping the sport on TV.

This week, the lead news story was Marcos Ambrose. His self-induced problems at Sonoma kept him from winning the race. Ambrose was gracious enough to speak with several reporters after the event, including TNT's Marty Snider on the live telecast.

Wednesday, Abrose was a guest on Showtime's Inside NASCAR program. The series is hosted by Chris Myers and features veteran journalist Randy Pemberton on the panel. The other two members of the TV cast are very familiar to Ambrose. Brad Daugherty is his team owner and Michael Waltrip supplies his cars.

Earlier, Daugherty appeared on ESPN2's NASCAR Now. Host Mike Massaro made sure to preface his questions by asking Daugherty to either put on his owner or TV analyst hat. That made the interview passable, but it was awkward at best.

This is the first season in NASCAR for Showtime. They have the Inside NASCAR series being produced at the Hall of Fame studios owned by NASCAR in downtown Charlotte. There is little doubt that NASCAR also "helped" the network to select a nice group of on-air announcers that met NASCAR's desires.

Waltrip is remembered by many for being on the longest running NASCAR TV series in history. Under several titles, the Monday night hour on SPEED ended its life as This Week in NASCAR. It had two or three panelists and one host. They reviewed highlights, talked about topics and had some fun.

Inside NASCAR has a new set, a new host and a new TV network. Unfortunately, that has not calmed some folks in the fan base. The popular belief is that NASCAR just stirred the soup a little bit and served up TWIN to Showtime with some new faces.

The show has been entertaining, but Showtime is just not the right network for the series. A small TV universe for Showtime of only 17 million homes makes the percentage of those that tune-in for Inside NASCAR very small.

Daugherty and Waltrip have a track record on TV, but both have also decided to make a go of it as owners in the Sprint Cup Series. Having Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick on the Inside NASCAR panel every week would make folks uncomfortable. How is it then different with Waltrip and Daugherty?

The bottom line is that Waltrip and Daugherty risk affecting their ownership situations in the garage when they directly offer critical comments on other teams, drivers and crew chiefs. On the TV side, there is no doubt that during the course of a ten month season there are going to be moments were critical comments are called for due to the circumstances.

Ambrose is a nice guy, has a good perspective and will be fine. The real issue is that in these situations Daugherty and Waltrip are forced to toe the polite NASCAR party line instead of trying to draw more facts and emotion from an interview subject like Ambrose. There is simply too much on the line.

Inside NASCAR has found that Pemberton is a gem of information and strong viewpoints. The network has also found that Daugherty is not. Waltrip continues to try and cover all the bases as a strong advocate of NASCAR in almost every situation. It's an interesting mix.

If you had an opportunity to watch the program, how about telling us your feelings on this issue from that perspective. If not a Showtime subscriber, have your issues changed on the NASCAR owner on TV topic? Is it just a part of the sport? Can fans just tune-out the politically correct comments?

With the recent appearances of Rusty Wallace in the ESPN TV booth and Phil Parsons on pit road for TNT telecasts, even more NASCAR owners are actively shaping the way fans see the sport on TV. It begs the question if this is really fair?

To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

28 comments:

Richard in N.C. said...

I am familiar with Mikey and Brad and think I am familiar enough with the sport and their backgrounds and involvement to know their potential conflicts and evaluate whether or not their comments refect some bias. I have not seen the show though. I have no problem with their commenting as long as Mikey's and Brad's involvement in the sport is made clear at least at the beginning of each show so the viewer can be alerted to the possibility of their comments having some bias. In fact I believe Mikey and Brad giving commentary on Showtime is not as bad as so-called reporters writing about a race and not making it absolutely clear that they are giving commentary based on watching the race on TV rather than from having been at the race. I believe a good deal of what was written about Pocono and Michigan was slanted and incomplete because many writers knew only what they saw on TV, which was not always made clear to the readers.

longtimeracefan said...

Re: "... current Sprint Cup Series owners who are actively involved in shaping the sport on TV." may be somewhat misleading. How about misshaping the sport on TV.

There's not a whole lot of shaping going on when it comes to Michael Waltrip and Brad Daugherty. Too much NASCAR political correctness for the most part. They do what they do on TV because they are willing to work for whatever it is that the networks are willing to pay them. Remember, it's all about he Benjamins. The other owners: Hendricks, Gibbs, Childress, Roush, have better sense, and probably a lot more money in the bank.

Having Roush and Hendrick on each week would be a must see NASCAR TV event, as opposed to the current weekly drivel served up now. Thank goodness Showtime is not seen on a wider format, least it would be embarassing for the the sport/show.

Anonymous said...

I've watched the show from the beginning. I don't see any owner bias from Daughtery or Waltrip. Sure, when Myers asks them to pick a winner, they sometimes pick their car - but they laugh about it and make jokes about their bias.

Personally, I don't see any conflict of interest being an owner and a commentator. It's not like they are hiding the fact that they are owners. It's not like they lie about their feelings on topics.

The Showtime NASCAR show has been a pleasant surprise. Last week's discussion about late cautions was 10x more refreshing and honest than anything I heard on ESPN's Nascar Now show.

You show me a face on television talking about NASCAR that doesn't have some sort of financial stake in NASCAR, and I'll show you someone who doesn't fully know what they're talking about.

Anonymous said...

Ray Evernham was a commentator on ESPN when he was an owner, and he continues to comment now that he is no longer an owner.

Has anyone noticed ANYTHING appreciably different about his comments or analysis between before and after being an owner/commentator vs. just a plain commentator?

The answer is "no." Ray's financial stake in a team didn't affect his analysis of double-file restarts, NASCAR caution calls, analysis of other teams' performance, etc. It's the same old Ray making the same old points.

I think a lot of this conflict of interest talk is bogus. It's just guys talking racing.

Anonymous said...

If it has a Waltrip in it I do not watch it, race, quals, or otherwise. Brad D comes off as a complete out of his element idiot. He is now viewed as a jump on the bandwagon and make some money kindof guy......Get rid of all Waltrips, Wallaces, and Brad D and I would tune in, not until/

Anonymous said...

Long ago, I reached my saturation point with the Waltrips and Wallaces. Sad,but it really is all about The Benjamins. My opinion is that they will milk the system as long as they can. Brad has come a long way. I like Brad,but he really doesn't have the in-depth experience or knowledge despite having once owned a Truck team. I feel there are far too many people in the booth at all the networks. Someone is always talking. Considering there are 36 races with tens of hours of broadcasts per week, viwer fatigue is just unavoidable. You can tell I'm in the "less is more" camp!

51 yr. fan said...

Brad and Mikey should be replaced
by someone from the sidelines with
some journalistic integrity. The
Wallaces also. With the quantity
of retired drivers and support
people available we should not
have to endure the Kool Aid Kids.
I sure would like to hear what
Bobby, Donnie, and Cale would
say.

Vicky D said...

I have only watched the show a couple of times. I think there are so many Nascar shows on that I can't watch another one so I don't spend a lot of time when this is on. I also like Brad he's got a lot of enthusiasm so I think he's good for the sport and I don't see any conflict of interest with him being an owner and broadcaster.

Donna in FL said...

I saw Inside NASCAR once on the freebee, and I wasn't impressed. It isn't fair to judge by just one viewing so I'll stop after saying that if that episode was the norm, then the show is fine where it's at.

Interesting... considering THEIR vast wealth of knowledge & otherwise, it would be fantastic if Roush, Childress or Hendrick did a weekly show like other owners get to do!! Seriously, I've been listening closely for many years, and I just haven't gotten any sense of blatant bias from these owner/commentator analysts, not even Phil. In fact, I have to commend Rusty, I never thought he would be able to maintain his composure on TV after he became an owner. And maybe I'm a bit mean, but I loved it when he got ribbing from his colleagues after a particularly bad team day. I haven't heard anyone say stuff like that to the other owners on air.
As for asking the hard questions, no they don't, and that would be my objection along with blatant product shilling which is unfair to other teams, and questionable journalistic ability.

GinaV24 said...

I watched the show that was streamed on NASCAR.com. The images were great, but the show didn't impress me a lot.

Anyone who follows the sport knows Mikey will always be pro-NASCAR no matter how stupid it makes him sound. Brad D is an overgrown fan IMO and I don't take his opinions seriously. Rusty, well, Rusty has been around forever and has anger issues and his bias shows a lot of the time.

I don't enjoy listening to these folks since I just don't believe they can be that unbiased and professional, just like DW's financial interests play a role in the way he acts during the NASCAR related shows that he is on.

All of NASCAR is inter-related, but having this many owner-driver people as part of the news and broadcasts makes me less inclined to watch this programming.

Zieke said...

Let's just get rid of all the Waldrips on TV and be done with it. Their shilling and blathering is just unwatchable. As for Brad, he might be a good basketball analyst, but as a Rah,rah NASCAR guy, he just doesn't cut it.

Anonymous said...

The owners are on the boob tube only for entertainment purposes (much like the NA$CAR races have become). They and the race results are not to be taken seriously. If you are looking for a sport or sports reporting, you have to look elsewhere. It's professional wrestling on wheels and it doesn't matter who the bobbing heads are.

Anonymous said...

The same tired refrain...

"A small TV universe for Showtime of only 17 million homes makes the percentage of those that tune-in for Inside NASCAR very small."

You like to point out how many more millions of homes SPEED is available in, but the only relevant number is how many actually WATCH programming on SPEED. On my cable system, and many others, SPEED is given in the next tier up from basic. My mother-in-law has SPEED but there's no way she would watch anything on it.

So, before you say that Showtime is the wrong channel for this show, why don't you tell us the ratings/households for it vs. the old TWIN?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

The problem with Showtime vs. SPEED is that Showtime has never and will never release ratings information for "Inside NASCAR."

As you may remember, TWIN struggled in the final years as different SPEED executives tried to leave their individual marks on this franchise.

Let me remind you, Showtime paid the bill and they have the perfect right to do whatever they desire with this series.

The topic that we are asking NASCAR fans to comment on today is whether or not having Brad Daugherty and Michael Waltrip interview Marcos Ambrose on this show makes sense, is a waste of time or just plain wrong.

Got a nice variety of opinions.

JD

Anonymous said...

I have not watched this show, but if it is like all the other shows where the same past driver, now owner/part owner broadcasters are used, then it can't be worth watching. I get very tired of the bias and favoritism shown by these people. They, along with the producer or whoever chooses what to show on tv, constantly show more of and talk more about their cars and favorite drivers. It gets old and I feel it is not only an insult to my integrity but a waste of time watching. Too much overload of this type of programming and analysts.

GA Red

Will said...

Would this be acceptable in other sports? Should Ted Turner have been a baseball commentator when he owned the Braves? Should Mark Cuban be looked at as an objective analyst for the NBA? I think not. I like the Waltrips as commentators, but I do think they should choose one role or the other.

Anonymous said...

No one takes Waltrip or Brad seriously in the "sport" anyway. I don't watch anything that has to do with the Waltrips as they are simply shills for the NA$CAR entertainment machine. These two only continue to dumb down the "sport" even farther, which is becoming a feat in itself considering how far it has fallen.

Richard in N.C. said...

I think it is fair to say that Mikey and Brad know more about NASCAR racing than Ted knew about baseball or Cuban knows about basketball. Before the Bobby Cox run started I do recall that Ted was going to manage the Braves for a game or 2 until the Commissioner told Ted he would not allow it.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind owners or drivers covering the sport as long as they have a strong background in either driving or managing a successful team. Having said that, I can't understand why anyone would want to listen to Waltrip given his lack of driving skills and very limited background or success as an owner. It was sad to hear about Randy Lajoie as I think he gave very good insight from a drivers standpoint and has the talent to back it up.

DexterMorgan said...

No. I dont think you need more people who are involved fiancially in Nascar, giving opinions about Nascar. It makes me sick that 95% of the "media" on SNR 128 are paid Nascar shills. How these people call themselves media, when they are getting paid by the organization they are reporting on is beyond me.

Richard in N.C said...

As I recall David Poole once said something like "Anyone who tells you they aren't biased is lying. Everyone has biases. The best you can ask is that they be fair."

Virtually everyone worth listening to about NASCAR is involved financially in NASCAR. I have a great deal of respect for Ryan McGee and his views, but he has a financial interest in writing articles about NASCAR that will attract readers - for some of which articles I have to pay to be an EESPN Insider in order to read.

I happen to believe that Brad's and Mikey's views on what it takes financially to participate in Cup racing are far better than those of the vast majority of what might be called the media.

Say what you want about Mikey, but many knowledgeable people in the industry thought he had enough talent to invest millions over 20+ decades to put cars under him.

dd said...

Richard.....they sure got their money's worth last Friday, watching him trying to qualify that S&P #55, from Phil "I start & Park" Parsons. Brakes just a smoking, power-braking and flying through the air, almost off the course and...."wall-banging"...once again!

I wouldn't count since 2006, as Mikey drives on his own....$.05. How much YEN is that?

I think both JAWS and Mikey have very little credibility in NASCAR and are just..."mouthpieces"...for the NASCAR-line coming down from Daytona Beach. Look at the sponsors on the cars and from Motormouth Motorsports and look who also appear as sponsors during the races? Way too in-bed with NASCAR to be..."credible", in my opinion.

Nan S said...

This is my first time watching the show. I only tuned in because I am a big Ambrose fan. I won't be watching the show again. I found it, other than the Ambrose interviews, to be uninspiring and very derivative of other sports shows. So I really didn't care about the owner vs commentator issue. Bore me once shame on you, bore me twice......

Richard in N.C. said...

I believe there are many commentators who are far more biased than the Waltrips, like several writers about the late debris caution at Michigan who conveniently failed to mention the drivers who said they saw the debris that brought out the caution.

Tom said...

Keep in mind, that as annoying as the Waltrips are, they are there because they are good shillers. NASCAR is a "privately owned" sport. It has no shareholders (even the WWE has that!), it is not a "league" in the sense that MLB or the NFL are. Teams in most leagues are privately (or publicly) owned, and the administration of the games is done by an organization that is not owned by one, or a few family members. NASCAR is owned by one family! No wonder no one takes them seriously! How can there be any sense of "fair play" when the goal is NOT to administer a well thought out, consistant formula for success week in and week out, but the personal financial enrichment of 10 people?? Having Koolaide drinkers like the Waltrips, or those clowns on Sirius makes perfect sense when you don't have to answer to anyone but a family member!

Tom

Inverness, FL

dd said...

I can sure remember several extremely biased commentating events from JAWS, especially in the famous 2007-season. It started, I am sure during the "fuel-gate" issue. Next there was the 2007 Daytona 500 broadcast. The first 20 minutes were a rolling Toyota-MWR commercial, by JAWS, until Mikey fell back through the field, never to be a factor, once again.

How about one of those failed qualification attempts, at either LVMS or Charlotte, when Mikey smacked the wall (imagine that!), parts were flying everywhere, and JAWS was up in the booth, almost blubbering-away, about his....."baby-brother"....not being able to qualify and make races. Just makes one want to...puke! Those are on You-Tube, if you want to check-out JAWS.

I wonder why we have so many Toyota-connected commentators in the booth, also---both Waltrips, Hollywood Hammond, Parsons, Jarrett, R. Wallace, Brad D., maybe even McReynolds? Who did I miss?

Anonymous said...

dd, you are right on with your analysis of why this is bad for the "sport". The Waltrips are the worst of the NA$CAR "media" bunch, but NA$CAR itself is to blame for why shills like the hukster Waltrips are even involved. Watching POS try to qualify at Sonoma was the most entertaining thing I've seen in a long time...of course Jaws immediately chimed in that it MUST be the car and not the talentless driver while no one would call him on it since they are all shills for the machine.