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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

NASCAR dads and soccer imams

Michelle Malkin has broken the news that Dateline: NBC is considering a hidden camera story that would show the problem of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination in America. As part of this story, NBC is looking for Muslim men whom Dateline would send to various "non-Muslim gatherings," including a NASCAR race. Malkin has obtained an email that reads, in part,
I have been talking with a producer of the NBC Dateline show and he is in the process of filming a piece on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination in the USA. They are looking for some Muslim male candidates for their show who would be willing to go to non-Muslim gatherings and see if they attract any discriminatory comments or actions while being filmed.

[snip]

They also want someone who is fairly well accomplished and has contributed to American society at large in some meaningful way.

That said, I'm urgently looking for someone who can be filmed this April 1st [note: now changed by NBC to April 8th - TCI] weekend at a Nascar event (and other smaller events) in Virginia. NBC is willing to fly in someone and cover their weekend expenses. The filming would take place all day on Saturday and Sunday.

An NBC official has confirmed (scroll down) that Dateline is "looking into this story." I guess it'll be up to another NBC official to tell Dateline that the races are in Texas this weekend, not Virginia. Also, note how they want people who are "fairly well accomplished" and who have "contributed to American society at large in some meaningful way." I'm guessing NBC thinks this will contrast nicely with the redneck inbred trash who go to NASCAR races.

Various people have pointed out that this is particularly bizarre given that NBC Sports currently splits the broadcast rights to NASCAR with Fox, with Fox airing the first half of the season (which is where we are now) and NBC the second half. However, this is the last year of that contract, and ABC/ESPN will televise the races next year. (Also, NBC's coverage is greatly inferior to Fox's in the eyes of most NASCAR fans, for whatever that's worth.)

If I ran Fox, I'd be figuring out who NBC's Muslim "ringers" were and putting a not-so-hidden camera crew all over them during the race. This would totally blow NBC's story out of the water.Also, throughout the broadcast of the race I'd be replaying clips of the original faked Dateline story about the trucks catching on fire and making snarky comments about keeping the Dateline crew away from pit road.

Additionally, now that NASCAR fans are aware that this might happen, I would think the odds of there being a confrontation are quite slim. (I should say that I think the odds would be slim regardless, but now even more so.) This would also kill Dateline's story, since the producers need to prove their "thesis" about bigoted white people (particularly NASCAR fans, obviously) and poor, oppressed Arabs.

That said, I'd be willing to bet a very large sum of money that now that Malkin's blown the lid off this story and it's spreading around the blogosphere, Dateline will drop it. Of course, since NBC officials can't very well say that they dropped it because of negative reactions, they'll issue some mealy-mouthed statement along the lines of "it was one of many possibilities we were considering, it never got past the planning state, a lot of ideas are proposed but most of them don't make it past preliminary discussions."

Lastly, it says a lot that my old employers at NBC News think that American anti-Muslim discrimination is the problem that they should be focusing on. I'd love to see Dateline send some white people into a mosque in Brooklyn and see what happens to them.

(Yes, I did just equate a mosque with a NASCAR race. Wanna fight about it?)

Belated update: Hello to readers of Instapundit, Offwing Opinion and The Spotter. I hope you stick around and see what else keeps me up at night.

Update2: Michelle Malkin has more, including a response from NASCAR. If NBC does go through with this, I hope everyone treats the ringers with the utmost respect. Unless they're wearing Kurt Busch gear.

Blogger jaed said...

I would think the odds of there being a confrontation are quite slim. (I should say that I think the odds would be slim regardless, but now even more so.) This would also kill Dateline's story,

Not necessarily. It being a large crowd, they'll certainly be able to get footage of people frowning, looking dubious, looking startled, etc. With skillful intercutting and a voice-over narrative, they can put this footage together to "tell the larger story" of discrimination and how the NASCAR fans made Muslims feel unwelcome, even if no such thing happened at the actual race.

Also remember that according to the call for participation, this segment is part of a larger story whose storyline, discrimination against Muslims, has already been determined, which means the focus will be on getting film that forwards the story line, not on finding out whether there's discrimination; the reporters have already decided that there is discrimination. Accordingly, if they get no footage showing it, they won't feel bad about giving it a little "help" in the cutting room.

The NASCAR footage is just a way of illustrating a problem they've already decided is there.

This is the way a lot of investigative news stories work - first decide the story line, then gather quotes and footage to illustrate this predetermined idea - and is why reporters don't take slanting, even faking, too seriously. It's all in the service of the larger truth that was determined in an editor's office before a single hidden camera rolled or a single phone call was made, and is therefore excusable.

14:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'd be replaying clips of the original faked Dateline story about the trucks catching on fire and making snarky comments about keeping the Dateline crew away from pit road."

ZING! Good one!

16:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we equating all news outlets with Dateline, or is the complaint specific to them? Not all investigative news programs are evil. While none are perfect, there are some that continue on the fine tradition of muckraking. Hell, if reporters were doing their job in the early aughts ('00s?) maybe some of the info we're getting now about our choice to invade Iraq would have come out then and we wouldn't be in this mess.

I would like to know how the Muslim gentlemen would be attired. Full suicide bomber ghetto, or wearing Ralph Lauren with a stehoscope around the neck? Methinks that would play a role on how they would be treated at a Nascar event.

By the way, fun blog. Though you're wrong a lot.

19:35  
Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

By the way, fun blog. Though you're wrong a lot.

Mom?

03:06  

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