Dear Robin Roberts, Gio Benitez, and GMA producers (oh and you too Inside Edition):
Your coverage of the post-race tussles after Saturday night’s NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was so off-the-mark that if it didn’t drag Tony Stewart’s name though the mud, it would have been completely laughable. Your story glossed completely over the main points of the brouhaha (involving on and off track incidents between Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth) and instead focused on a tiny portion of the incident where Tony Stewart stood up to Brad Keselowski for being collected as collateral damage in the pit road portion of the skirmish with Matt Kenseth.
Sadly, your report does not surprise me. I watched mainstream media outlets with a limited knowledge of motorsports instantaneously vilify Tony Stewart in August for a tragic accident. Unfortunately I have to throw you into the trash bin with them- because that piece that you aired? It was so obviously meant to be a sensationalistic piece that it had no real news value other than to stir a pot that should be off the stove by now.
May I ask you this? Have you ever been to a NASCAR race? I have been to more than 20. A lot can happen during a 500 mile race- did you even watch the race you commented on? I did- well all except for the first 26 laps that ABC decided not televise, opting instead to televise a college football game instead of the professional sporting series playoff race (that is that the Chase is- it’s NASCAR’s version of the playoffs) they were scheduled to air. But I digress. What Tony Stewart did there? Any driver would do. That’s NASCAR speak for “Hey don’t involve me in your drama.” It would not have gotten billed as it did if it had been any other driver standing up to being collected as collateral damage from Brad Keselowski’s temper tantrum. Oh and by the way- all drivers have them at some point. It’s called passion for their sport.
Have you ever bothered to talk to a Tony Stewart fan? I can’t answer for all of them- only myself. But let me tell you just a little bit about why I am a Tony Stewart fan. I find Tony’s passion for racing, for being lucky enough to do what he loves, inspiring to witness. Tony can race nearly anything with wheels and does it with PASSION (have you seen his career highlights). But that is not the only reason I am a fan. I am a fan because Tony races with his heart on his sleeve and has from the very beginning. It’s his honestly (sometimes brutally so) and passion for ALL forms of motorsports that drew me in. I stay a fan because despite his hardcore, old school, intense racer attitude and driving style, the man has a huge heart. I was lucky enough to have interviewed Tony several times (Interview 1, Interview 2, Interview 3) for this very blog. He was always thoughtful, more than friendly, and very forthcoming with his all of his answers, but when the topic turned to his charitable foundation and the work they do with children and animal charities- his entire face lit up and body language changed. THAT right there, is why I am a fan.
Yes, Tony Stewart was involved in a terrible accident where a young driver lost his life. But this is just it- it was an accident and was deemed so by a Grand Jury for goodness sakes. As a motorsports enthusiast, a NASCAR blogger and yes a diehard Tony Stewart fan- I do not want to see Tony Stewart forced to filter his words, his actions, or who he is for the rest of his career because news anchors like yourself are going to throw an accident back up into his face at any given moment. It’s already something that Tony has to live with every day, I am sure he does that enough as it is.
So please, the next time you do a piece on a subject unknown to you- do some research, attempt to familiarize yourself with it or at the very least default to someone who does understand it instead of trying to be the first out there to smear someone’s name. It’s not becoming.
Amy K. Marbach, BadGroove.Com