Don’t Shoot The Messenger Over Busch vs. Newman

by Jim on July 17, 2013 · 6 comments

Before reading, let me be clear that this is no slam on the writer referenced in this post. This is merely looking at another point of view on the Kyle Busch vs. Ryan Newman war in the media, and suggesting this matter might not be the most fitting example for the point she’s trying to make. I also propose there’s another solution to help keep these soap operas from playing out the way this one has.

It’s the chaos theory at work: Kyle Busch makes an off-handed comment about the crash involving Ryan Newman and his brother Kurt, and it overshadows all the other story lines coming out of New Hampshire last Sunday. I wonder if Kyle had any idea at the time that his comments would mushroom into a viral stink storm.

It has been interesting to watch the reaction by fans and the media. One such response caught my eye, and got a rise out of me. Ro Cowan, in a piece for Drafting The Circuits, took the media to task for perceiving they ginned up this controversy. I have a lot of respect for Cowan, and appreciate her passion, but there’s a lot in her post “Media Created Images Rear Ugly Head At Driver’s Expense.” (The link to the blog shows up on Jayski’s “blogs” page July 16th).

First, Cowan expresses what comes off as an elitist comment “I prefer to stay within the bounds of responsible journalism, what where when how and why of it. Today’s NASCAR journalists have gotten away from that traditionalist point of view.” OK. Fine. If you prefer to wear the reporter’s hat, more power to you. Is there a need to take a veiled pot shot at an opinion writer? I take the latter tack due to the fact I’m not at the Cup track on Sundays. I take the approach of an observer, who opines on what he sees and invites a conversation with fellow fans concerning those observations. Newsflash: it does not make such writers inferior, it just makes them different. You can state your approach without slamming someone else in the process.

Second, perhaps Cowan- and others with her point of view- need to listen a little more carefully. No less than Kyle Busch himself tweeted ” I was answering what I felt was two separate questions asked to me at the same time in an interview following the race in Loudon. The first was about how fast Kurt was and the second was how I felt about Ryan Newman blaming me for him getting wrecked.” Did you catch that? The first question came against the back drop of how both brothers cars were running so well on the same day. Then….Busch was, and I might add appropriately asked about his response to Newman’s remarks.

Busch goes on to explain there had been problems between Newman and himself within the same race. That does not sound like reporters looking for trouble to me. Does it to you?

I give Busch credit for this: he said his remarks about Newman’s future employment “crossed the line.” He also gave context to what appears to have been a growing frustration with how Newman had been racing him. Now that we have more facts, the comments that ignited the verbal volley make more sense.

Here’s another point Cowan misses: Kyle Busch made the statements. No one held a gun to his head. It was his opinion- which he was entitled to- but it doesn’t mean he had to say it. He could passed on commentary against Newman, but HE CHOSE NOT TO DO SO. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but that comes with consequences. I know when I express an opinion on this page, I know it opens me up for criticism and even vitriol. If I don’t like it, I can always quit, and revert to a reporter’s role, in which case, I would do well to stick to local high school sports, or covering the local college teams.

Let me be clear- Cowan makes some good points. There are those instances where it certainly appears the media is trying to goad the subject. Do you want to know how to dry that up? Decline to answer the question. If they persist, call them out. It’s there the story ends.

Another good point Cowan makes is suggesting that if you find such reading offensive, don’t read it. Her blog, mine and all other media are driven by readers, viewers and listeners, depending on the medium. On this blog, if people stop reading and stop commenting, I stop writing; or take a different approach, or address different subject matter.

It’s not hard to understand the animus directed at the media. It’s important the “audience” make the distinction between “fact” and “opinion,” and the media does well to signal the intent. Admittedly, far too many times, the lines between the two are blurry.


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{ 6 comments }

1 jerry f. mallard July 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Kyle should’ve handled this situation Like Kasey Kahne did after the three times Kyle has wrecked him this year! You writers need to keep calling Kyle out for what he is … a cry baby with no class!

2 Chris July 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I would rather have the opinion of a wise man than the facts from a ill informed one any day. Good job

3 Charley July 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I read Cowins article and was shocked at the number of errors in reporting that she displayed. For instance stating that Kyle and Newman never touched each other during the race. In fact they had a dust up just the lap before Kurt screamed into the corner and took out Newman.
Like most of her readers, I watch the race and have the where, what ,when etc. well in hand before reading any articles post race. I’m not looking for her scewed FACTS but rather for opinions and interviews that add interest and color to the race. Ironically, her article was mostly about her opinion and the few facts she presented were mostly incorrect.

4 Jim July 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm

@Jerry. You know what my thought on Kyle is? I think within all of us is an “inner whiner” that is awaken when we feel we’ve been wronged and we don’t get our way. Some learn to curb the urge to whine or mouth off, while others don’t have such control. If he feels Newman “raced him poorly,” that his opinion, but he would’ve been better off to keep it to himself.

5 Jim July 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm

@Charley. Given my lack of proximity to the garage and the race track (this is more of a hobby with some fringe benefits), it’s for the reasons you state that I focus on commentary. There isn’t any news out there that Jenna Fryer, Marty Smith or Bob Pockrass can’t get long before I do. On the day job, I am a journalist, in both the world of hard news and sports. Cowan may have a point with some reporters want to stir the pot, but there’s a way an interview subject can react that doesn’t get that pot stirred. Something to the effect of “I am not going to answer that question.”

6 Jim July 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm

@Chris. Where’s the wise man? (j/k). IMO- Cowan may have had a point, but this wasn’t a good example. One commenter on her blog explained what was really happening that invalidates her reasoning in this instance and Kyle’s later comments seem to suggest he had no problem with Claire B. Lang’s question.

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