Is bias a problem in the NASCAR broadcast booth?
Brad Keselowski may have posted a strong finish in Monday’s rain-delayed Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., coming in third, but that finish wasn’t without incident. Keselowski was required to serve an early-race penalty as a result of his jack man slamming his upper body into the side of the car and making an illegal body aero change. After the race, Keselowski was upset with penalty, but the subject of his ire wasn’t the team member who made the “adjustment.” Instead, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion went on a rant about driver-turned-broadcaster, Jeff Gordon.
The way I see it, for what that’s worth, Gordon was just reporting what happened on the problematic Keselowski pit stop. It’s not Gordon’s job to sugar-coat when I team does something “not quite kosher” on pit road. Sure, Gordon made a mistake when he said Keselowski’s No. 2 team did the same thing earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The No. 2 team has been penalized for the same thing before, just not at during a pit stop at Vegas. And the team was penalized at Vegas, but that penalty was for speeding on bit road. It was an easy, understandable mistake. I think that’s all this was, nothing more.
And as far as describing the now-infamous pit stop at Pocono goes, if Gordon neglected to mention the incident, wouldn’t that be showing prferential treatment? And isn’t such preferential treatment what Keselowski is arguing against? Ans as far as NASCAR not nabbing other teams for the same thing during that same Pocono race — how is that Gordon’s fault. If other teams, indeed, got away with the same thing on Monday, that’s on NASCAR, not Gordon.
If you want to read a transcript of that portion of the broadcast, you may find it here
As far as Keselowski’s post-race rant goes, could it just be a matter over bitter grapes still fermenting after a post-race altercation between the two drivers late in 2014? I’m not sure, but if it is, at the risk of bringing up an annoying movie soundtrack lyric, “Let it go.”
That aside, Keselowski brought up and interesting debate topic when he accused Gordon of bias as a NASCAR broadcaster who is also part-owner of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of driver Jimmie Johnson. Keselowski said that individuals with a financial stake shouldn’t be in the broadcast booth because of a potential bias.
TV broadcasting has always, or at least in my memory, been held to a different standard than that of print media, especially in the sports world. That aside, are financial stakes the only source of potential bias in sports broadcasting, in NASCAR and other sports?
Keselowski has been among the slew of Sprint Cup Series drivers in the broadcast booth for Xfinity Series races the last couple of years or so. He may not have a financial stake in any team in that series, but he’s one of the drivers on the roster for the No. 22 Team Penske Ford that races full-time in the series. Not to mention, he races full-time for Team Penske at the Cup level. Does that not present some potential bias? I think so. Pot, meet kettle, as they say.
I get that Keselowski declines invitations to join Camping World Truck Series broadcasts because of his ownership of Brad Keselowski Racing in that series. But what about his potential bias in the Xfinity Series as a Team Penske driver, sometimes in the Xfinity Series, even? I get that’s not a financial stake but it still presents a potential bias. Why is one kind of potential bias okay but the other not?
Personally, I find it refreshing to have an expert with knowledge from such recent experience in the booth. And as far as bias goes, I don’t think Gordon shows much if any more bias than several of the other TV broadcasters — regular or guest.
If Keselowski feels so strongly about potential bias in the broadcast booth, maybe he should turn down future opportunities to walk into that FOX broadcast booth on Saturday, just saying.
And, as for the tantrum regarding the penalty, I understand being disappointed after getting caught doing something wrong. But when a team is caught on video committing the wrongdoing, continued denial and seeming confused by why a penalty is being assessed just makes said person/team look bad. I think the only logical thing to do, here, is own the action, take the prescribed punishment and move on.