NASCAR Fans Fail to Bite NBC's Bigot Bait

April 7th, 2006 8:16 AM

B. Duane Cross writes at that NBC was unable to find people in the racing stands who would persecute their "plants" wearing Middle Eastern clothing. Also, the NBC crew did not do a good job of concealing themselves.

NBC News baited the hook, but netted nothing in its "sting" attempt to find anti-Muslim sentiments during the Martinsville race weekend....

The inference is that NASCAR fans are bigots, and NBC News was hoping to bait fans into making insensitive remarks to the Muslim / Arab people it had planted at the track.

Ramsey Poston, NASCAR's managing director of corporate communications, said Wednesday that no instances of unrest were reported. "No one bothered them," Poston said.

It's hard to imagine that NBC News would try to entrap fans in a ploy to make its Dateline segment juicier. But apparently the network did just that; NBC did not deny its actions when confronted by NASCAR....

NBC News should know that NASCAR isn't the last bastion of redneck; the people at NBC Sports thought so much of NASCAR -- and its diverse fan base -- that it chipped in with TNT to spend $1.2 billion for broadcast rights the past six years.

Mike Smith, director of public relations for Martinsville Speedway, said that the Dateline crew's presence wasn't as stealth as it possibly hoped.

"Our security knew almost immediately that [the Dateline crew] were on site and they were monitored the whole time they were here, for obvious reasons -- their protections, fans protection -- and they were not disturbed," Smith said. "It says a lot about our fans.

"If there is an upside, it shows that the image so many people have of NASCAR fans is a false one, and it shows that not only at Martinsville Speedway, but at NASCAR tracks in general, it shows what type of security we have in place that can discover something like this, observe it and make sure nothing happens.

"We've gotten calls [Thursday] from fans praising our security and wanting the number for Dateline," Smith said. "As disappointed as we are, we feel pretty good about the end result."