Media and the Facts: Are They Always Right?

People question the media at times, wondering if facts are being twisted, if truths are being distorted, or if stories are being manufactured just to keep readers and viewers interested. But once in awhile, someone in the media will say or do something that is just plain incorrect. And when it's done on national television, it can catch the eye of a great number of people.

At the end of the Pepsi 400 this weekend was a great example of media personalities getting a fact wrong, and broadcasting it to millions. After Tony Stewart won the Pepsi 400 for the second consecutive year, Larry Mac and DW had a short conversation (10 or 15 seconds is all it took) about how this is where Stewart started his winning streak last year, leading up to his championship run.

I didn't tape the broadcast, so I can't go back and double check the exact quotes, but it was something like "Isn't this where Tony started his winning streak last season?" "I do believe you're right"

The implication, of course, is that Stewart is right on pace to do what he did last year, getting hot in mid-season and racing past the competition for another championship. But the FACT is that the boys in the booth are off by a week. Stewart's 2005 winning streak started in Sonoma, where he won the race at Infineon. This year he had a much poorer finish at that track, thanks to an engine problem.

It may have been a minor fact. Actually, I'll admit that it's a VERY minor fact. But let's face it. These guys are paid huge sums of money to know their sport inside and out. They're hired as the "experts". And casual viewers, who don't follow the sport week in and week out rely on them to explain what's happening on the track. When they misinform the public on even the smallest of facts, it lessens the value of having experts in the booth. And when that fact is something that would be known by anyone who has even casually followed the sport for the past two years, it really makes you wonder what these guys are thinking.

Don't get me wrong. I like the broadcast team on FOX/FX. Some people seem to be getting tired of Larry Mac. And some have had their fill of "Boogity Boogity Boogity". I'm not one of those people. I think FOX does a very good job of covering the races.

But when obvious mistakes are made by the "experts", it makes me wonder if the announcers themselves are getting a little burned out as the season wears on. In fact, as far as the FOX broadcasts are concerned, the season has worn on to it's end. This was their season finale. They're done with NASCAR for 2006. So maybe the guys were a little tired, and weren't as sharp as they were earlier in the season. Maybe there was a little let down, now that the race was over, and the excitement of the moment had passed for the final time this season. That can happen to anyone after a long run without a break. But it's still no excuse.

These guys are on the national broadcast teams because they're supposed to be the best at what they do. If they can't get the facts right, who can?

Next week, NASCAR broadcasts are turned over to NBC and TNT. Here's hoping their "experts" can keep ALL of the facts right.

Published on July 3, 2006 in