Monday, August 8, 2011

Jimmie Johnson, MSNBC and the New York Times

I'm a liberal-leaning, Democrat-voting, social security-collecting female. I don't drink beer or hunt deer. I don't belong to the NRA or the Tea Party. I don't camp out or ride a Harley. I'm in favor of gay marriage. I'm pro-choice.  I live in the flatlands of the midwest. My ancestors never ran moonshine as far as I know. My absolute passion is NASCAR. I think the sexiest sound in the world (right in front of screaming guitars) is the roar of 43 engines starting. I think there is no thrill like seeing your driver (which in my case happens to be Jimmie Johnson) take the checkered flag. I jump up from my chair and scream like a teenager when that happens.

NASCAR is the second most watched sport after the NFL. At the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis two weeks ago, sportscasters decried that "only" 128,000 people showed up. Isn't this a larger crowd than ever attends the Super Bowl? Or the World Series? Or the NBA playoffs?

So, in light of this, how's come the television stations I watch most frequently and the newspapers I read most often act as if NASCAR doesn't even exist? Is it because NASCAR isn't politically correct enough for Morning Joe? Does the New York Times accept the generalization that all NASCAR fans are booze-swilling, low-intellect rednecks (as opposed, of course, to those pillars of intelligent rectitude - football fans?)

Is that why they will go into detail about curling contests and tiddley winks trials and cheerleading championships and mention nary a word about NASCAR? It doesn't appear that the more left-leaning of the news stations are especially enamored of any form of auto racing but they will occasionally stray from stick and ball sports to give a word to Formula One or IndyCars, which I guess, they consider the aristocrats of motorsports.   But, NASCAR? It takes a really horrendous wreck to get their attention and then it's covered with a sort of "can you believe the Neanderthals who enjoy this stuff?" superiority that is worse than ignoring us altogether.

Perhaps, it is because NASCAR appears on their competitor station, Fox Sports, but if so, that is a narrow-minded attitude for a professional news organization to have. A sport is a sport and deserves to be covered in proportion to its number of fans no matter where its events appear. Does NBC pretend football doesn't exist because the games are shown on ABC? (I may have this wrong but I neither know nor care).

Last year, I paid special attention after NASCAR's last race in Homestead-Miami where our champion was declared. That happened to be my driver, Jimmie Johnson, and it happened to be his fifth consecutive championship, a feat no other NASCAR driver has ever achieved.

Surely, surely, this would be a news-worthy story, even for Morning Joe. I mean, come on, for Pete's sake, Joe Scarborough is a southerner, proudly hailing from the Redneck Riviera of Florida. His son attends college in Alabama. You'd think that would be enough to get him to suggest to his producers, "how about devoting a sentence to NASCAR?" but nope, they'd fall all over the winner of a spelling bee before they saw fit to honor our champion. (The same guy, by the way, who was named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press).

This presents me with a dilemma. I despise Fox News, believing as I do that their reporting is so biased as to be a total farce. They screw over my side of the political equation with such regularity that I don't believe a word they say.

On the other hand, the stations I'm more inclined to watch for news are equally as prejudiced against my sport which makes me distrust them as much as I mistrust Fox.

Ditto the New York Times.

A news organization is either "fair and balanced" in ALL areas or its not fair and balanced at all.