Minter: Stewart Is On A Media Room Tear
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
Bristol, Tenn. – Tony Stewart, the driver who seems to have interpreted NASCAR’s directive to “Have at it” as instructions to launch a season-long string of insults aimed at the print media, was back at it on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Quite ironically, the one reporter he seemed to have any use for was a local guy. This was the same Stewart who at Bristol a few years back insulted veteran writer Larry Woody, then of the Nashville Tennessean and one of the most respected in his profession, by responding to a plenty relevant question by saying: “You must be local.”
It could have been argued back then that Stewart’s behavior was due to him being inexperienced and not aware of the role the media plays in the grand scheme of NASCAR things. That’s no longer a valid excuse, but there is no excuse for the way Stewart acts in the press room.
This year, Stewart rarely misses a chance to insult the reporters in the press room. On several occasions his insults have been broadcast on TV.
He rants regularly about “stupid questions” and sometimes calls the questioners “stupid.” He often dodges even the most basic questions, the same questions that other drivers willingly and thoughtfully answer.
I was beginning to think my peers enjoyed the insults until I read a blog by veteran journalist Monte Dutton, who once wrote the book on Stewart – literally.
Here’s how Monte’s blog from Bristol began: “Tony Stewart is on a tear. He’s red hot. He’s picking ‘em up and laying ‘em down. He can’t be stopped.
“Is this on the track? Oh, no. He hasn’t finished better than seventh yet. This is in the media center, where Stewart has done everything he can possibly do to insult the press except lob a grenade.”
From all indications, the only reason Stewart even shows up in the press room is because NASCAR’s protocol for race weekends has the top 12 drivers in the points standings make a brief appearance each week. Most weeks, there are 11 guys who seem to appreciate and even enjoy the 10-minute exchanges.
Two newcomers to the routine, Scott Speed and Paul Menard, appeared to relish their new roles.
That was in stark contrasts to Stewart’s insults, which are totally out of place in a sport trying to regain lost TV viewership and fill empty grandstand seats. Even Bristol, which has seen Cup races sell out for years, is expecting the sell-out string to end on Sunday even with the added interest from the Carl Edwards-Brad Keselowski feud.
Maybe it’s time for the media to tell Tony no thanks, and for reporters to spend their limited time with drivers who show up with the intention of playing the game as it should be played.
Monte Dutton’s closing words are worth repeating as well. This is how he ended his piece: “Stewart’s just doing this for sport. He’s saying, hey, watch while I torch these losers.
“But the losers have torches, too.”
Hopefully there will be more like Monte who are bold enough to stand up and tell it just like it is.
– Rick Minter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments