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Inside the Sausage Factory: How NBC Fakes the News

Hey, look, we'll put some Muslim guys in robes, see, and we'll send them to a NASCAR race in Virginia, you know, where the rednecks live, and we'll give the guys prayer rugs and have 'em slap those babies right down in front of the speedway and have the guys kneel down right there, and we'll have the cameras rolling, and then when those racist rubes walk by and get a load of this, we'll get all their anti-Muslim venom on camera and we'll have ourselves one dandy TV show!

You can just hear the glee in the voices of the NBC "Dateline" producers as they concocted this hare-brained, unethical, insulting foray into the wilds of NASCAR Nation. Amazingly, this notion got through a meeting and past some editors and all the way to the Martinsville Speedway, where NBC really did send "Muslim-looking men" last weekend in an effort to manufacture a story about how anti-Muslim those red state Amuricans really are. Luckily, the network got caught in the act.

So now the network is trying to spin this as just a "followup" to a poll on attitudes toward Muslims. The piece was never going to focus on NASCAR fans. Oh, please.

Let's be clear: There is never a good reason to fake the news. Often, TV producers will try to defend hidden camera reporting and staged events as the only way they can get a story about people doing stuff they would never do in front of a camera. Well, isn't that just too bad? These so-called reporters might have to go out and do some actual reporting about events that really did occur, rather than drumming up events so that the voyeurs among us can "see" for themselves. It's true that you will generally get better footage by staging something than by sitting around waiting for it to happen naturally, or, horrors, getting second-hand accounts from people who have witnessed the events you're reporting on. But one way is dishonest and the other is a rigorous search for the truth. There is a difference.

Beyond the obvious ethical flaws here, there's also the appallingly narrow thinking that led the producers to think hmm, we need bigots, let's go to Virginia and get some NASCAR fans. NBC might want to hire Mark Warner as a consultant, maybe have him give them a talk on the demographics of NASCAR Nation. The folks at NBC might be shocked to learn that a good number of those fans actually went to school, hold decent jobs, and--hold onto your hats--voted for a Connecticut Yankee Democrat to be governor of Virginny.

By Marc Fisher |  April 7, 2006; 8:43 AM ET
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Them there big shots at NBC ain't got nothin on us. We'a know one of them there fake shows when we'a seem them. Dang, I just spill my Pabst on my Marlboro shirt. Oh, Lord, my hound dog just ran off....

Posted by: NoVA | April 7, 2006 10:00 AM

OK, so the Post doesn't plant stories, blow things out of proportion, never print a flattering photo of a Republican President, and destroy the career of as many as they can? I've believed all my life that the Fourth Estate makes up stories to sell their product. I even had a Sociology professor at American University here in DC teach the VietNam War never happened, it was fabricated to sell newspapers. So what happened to those 58,000 people listed on the VietNam Wall?

Now we get this three-ring circus with the loose cannon on Capitol Hill who threw a punch at the police when he stopped her for ID. Just looking at her you can tell the woman is a few bricks shy of a load. And why do they always have a phalanx of sullen-looking cohorts behind them when they give a press conference? Get real -- the news is all glorified, embellished and pimped up to sell.

BTW -- I'm a Bobby Labonte fan and I can form complete sentences.

Posted by: Conservative Republican | April 7, 2006 10:04 AM

What is wrong with measuring the Muslim sentiment. What if there is a guy that prays 5 times a day and likes NASCAR? I Let's see what the public reaction will be.

Posted by: Tim Z | April 7, 2006 11:19 AM

Is this what they call "infotainment"? We can inform the public about some Americans' supposed intolerant attitude while having it be entertaining at the same time? I guess I just have to ask where the line is between reporting news and exploring an issue, and why we have to make that distinction in such black and white terms, especially for a show like Dateline.

Now this specific case seems pretty despicable, but think about the hype that shows like Black/White, 30 Days etc. get by exploiting the same sorts of issues (not to mention comedians like Dave Chappelle and Carlos Mencia). Why shouldn't Dateline get a piece of the action? Like I've read in this paper many times, news organizations are trying to grapple with this post-Reality TV, blogging, dare I say cynical generation, and I'm glad they're at least coming up with some ideas. What this stunt shows is that there is clearly a lot more work to be done.

Posted by: renofan | April 7, 2006 11:34 AM

Perhaps not appropriate for a show like Dateline, but staging events are a powerful tool to uncover true sentiment. I'm reminded of the (highly controversial) Ali G segment where his Kazakstan alter ego gets a bar full of red-staters to singalong full-throttled to a ridiculously anti-semitic song. It was eye-opening to see how easily some people will singalong to a chorus that goes, "throw the jew down the well, so my country can be free."

Posted by: Radical Center | April 7, 2006 11:38 AM

Though I agree "fabrication" of the news is a great travesty to the American public, I cannot help but wonder at the end of the day if the questionable tactics used by Dateline, not unlike some used by law enforcement dragnets to ensnare or, dare I say, "entrap" suspected criminals, yield the same results. That is to say, at the end of the day if the dealer is going to deal, be it in drugs or simply 'anti-' sentiment towards a particular segment of the public, does it matter that a "controlled" environment was provided for them to commit their otherwise anticipated and natural acts. Does that make them any less guilty? I can think of any number of KKK examples in the South, even to this day, that would provide ample proof of what the end result of this particular news "demonstration" was trying to achieve. Besides, how great would be if it did backfire in Dateline's face and nothing but tolerance and compassion were the rule of [this] day. It just might dispel some of the mythology of perception about NASCAR fans or the good folks of "Virginny" as you so put it.

A simple disclosure at the beginning of the news segment clarifying their tactics might help us confused fans of NASCAR or simple folk from Virginia see the difference in how the news is presented. Besides, doesn't Dateline have to get in line behind all the other fraudulent 'news sources' being covered? Explain to me again, since I'm from VA, why we went to 'war' in the first place? As I recall, people are STILL losing their lives from that little "staged event". I am of course referring to the coverage of the build-up to the war and it's brilliant and insightful coverage to uncover the veracity of it's claims.
And yes, I'm a fan. Go Tony Stewart!!! And Joe Gibbs for that matter, since it's his race team!!! After all, isn't he a devout Christian? Wonder what he would make of such perceptions?

Posted by: Non-redneck Mike from VA | April 7, 2006 12:12 PM

I think I saw this segment -- on the Daily Show....

Posted by: DC | April 7, 2006 12:34 PM

It was a lazy, ham-handededly artificial, and insulting way to make what is probably a valid point.

Posted by: Mark | April 7, 2006 12:43 PM

Fisher says: "Let's be clear: There is never a good reason to fake the news. Often, TV producers will try to defend hidden camera reporting and staged events as the only way they can get a story about people doing stuff they would never do in front of a camera. Well, isn't that just too bad?"

Try telling that to the parents of children who are affected by the horrible atrocities of pedophilia that occur EVERY day in this country. Do you really think there is not a cause to stage an event to see what the results will yield, then? Do you have children? Know anyone who does? I fear that you have not entirely thought this thing out. I am not necessarily defending Dateline, but I imagine there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of parents who might think otherwise. Simply go back and watch Dateline's series on pedophilia and the internet and you might just get the dose of reality you are so sorely missing from this last "blog". I honestly don't believe that you could look into the eyes of a child or a parent who has been afflicted by this all too pervasive social behavior and say "too bad".

Posted by: Non-redneck Mike, again... | April 7, 2006 12:46 PM

Mike,

I'd put creating a sting to capture pedophiles in a different category than seeing if NASCAR fans are anti-Muslim. (Although, I do think NBC was stupid for not calling the cops to BE THERE on their first pedophile sting, so no one was charged....) I guess I don't see the former as "faking news" so much as helping the police department.

As for the NASCAR story....personally, I don't care WHAT religion the guy sitting next to me is - I'm more concerned if he actually cheers for Kurt Busch. And yes, I'm a fan - go #88!

Posted by: AG | April 7, 2006 12:58 PM

Are you kidding, Rednecks aren't that stupid to do something to someone (be it religion, race or sex genre), in the open. They wait in the pick up around the corner and then attack. Study your history.

But I think it was a wrong thing to do.

Thanks

Posted by: Frankey | April 7, 2006 1:00 PM

Why is NBC News trying to compete with Inside Edition? This is poor journalism plain and simple. If they wanted to gauge how Muslims are treated at a NASCAR event how about finding Muslims who are NASCAR fans and finding out from them how they are treated.

Whats next, having a Black family set up a BBQ near a Klan rally?

Hey here's one; have a 16 y/o girl walk down a busy street butt naked and record how many pedophiles look at her? It should be easy since only those who would look at her wold be pedophiles.

I guess NBC is trying to keep pace with the Daily Show.

Posted by: Tired of it all | April 7, 2006 1:03 PM

Let's be clear - when Dateline did the bit on sex offenders, they concentrated on an easy target - a bunch of loser pedophiles who make easy headlines. They didn't film efforts by the police to capture the crooks - they became part of the story. That is not journalism. They missed the real issue of sex offenders, which is usually committed by a friend, family member., etc. But that doesn't make such flashy TV.

Posted by: Dateline is a joke | April 7, 2006 1:03 PM

Conservative Republican:

In making your point that the press "makes up stories," you say that an AU professor taught that the media faked the Vietnam War. But, then you imply that (quite sanely) you disagree with him, because of the names on the Vietnam memorial. Hence, this example seems to belie, not support your point about the press making up stories. It actually supports the notion that the anti-press conspiracy theorists are a bit whacky.

More significant is what you allege the professor said. It is hard to believe that a professor of a reputable school would say something so obviously and demonstrably erroneous (though some so-called scholars have said some really ridiculous things). If you maintain it actually happened, how about outing this professor here, so we can start questioning
him or AU about this? I'm betting you won't reply.

Posted by: Huh? | April 7, 2006 1:04 PM

Mark,

I don't really see how this is any different than secret shopping. As long as there is full disclosure in the program about what they did and the incidents that are televised are not cherry picked, I don't see the problem.

From what I have heard, NASCAR fans come from all walks of life - so there should not be a concern about just picking on the rednecks b/c you are just as likely to see rich guys and gals who wear suits to work at a NASCAR race right? So you can't just say blame any bad reaction on fans being rednecks. Now I think any story about hostility encountered should also look at how other fans reacted. If someone is harassed and the fans defend that person, that also needs to be shown. But it is amazing how honest people are, when they are in a comfortable setting.

If NASCAR fans were tolerant, that is great news. It means the morons at TSA are alone in creating stupid security policy that makes us all less safe. It also means that the close minded ignorance I have experienced is more of an anomoly thant I think. All of which is good news.

If the fans are intolerant and reactionary - then it shows everyone that we have a ways to go.

JD

Posted by: JD - Former Resident of Vienna | April 7, 2006 1:14 PM


If anyone ever doubted that the media is liberal and activist look no further. This incident sums up the worst fears people have about the lib media.

Posted by: Brick Stellerman | April 7, 2006 1:20 PM

The point is, Dateline is guilty of fabricating a story and calling it news. What does this prove? That the big news organizations look at all of us "average Americans" as one giant uninformed mass of humans, eagerly waiting for them to "enlighten" us with whatever they deign to help us understand. In their arrogance, what does it matter if they bring their own Muslim-looking people and do everything they possibly can to get a rise out of a vocal minority if it proves their socially and politically motivated point? And, how far could this be taken? If the people they were trying to "catch" didn't take the bait with the prayer mat attempt, why not just build in another level of bait? Maybe they could yell very loudly in Arabic and start to annoy people. Maybe they could start talking about 9/11, and if just talking about it didn't work, maybe they could talk favorably about it. And if that didn't work? Well, of course, opening their jackets to reveal (fake) bombs strapped to their bodies. Still no takers? Remove the "(fake)". When will the arrogance stop and the respect for an educated American audience begin? If anybody finds out, please share the memo with the New York Times as well.

Posted by: Newsie | April 7, 2006 1:21 PM

Ladies and Gentlemen-this is the underlying issue-we are a nation dedicated to the 30 second sound bite and we aren't as a whole really interested in the truth-we gladly sit back and absorb whatever propoganda makes us feel best. We are wallowing in Republican cr*p, Democratic cr*p and Media cr*p. Stories are made up to get us motivated to take a stand against ... (flag burning, gay marriage, english as our language, drity rotten immegrants, etc. All these non-issues being presented as burning issues-it shouldn't surprise anyone to find out that a story has been made up. I suspect this is the tip of the iceburg. It's OK-go back to sleep-take the blue pill!

Posted by: D~ | April 7, 2006 1:48 PM

"As long as there is full disclosure in the program about what they did and the incidents that are televised are not cherry picked, I don't see the problem."

Dateline sent their "Muslim-looking Muslims" to Martinsville. No racist acts, comments, or dirty looks were captured on camera. Now, hold your breath until the premiere of the Dateline segment that "proves" that NASCAR fans are tolerant of Muslims. The beauty of this system is that you can only prove guilt.

On the other hand, like Mark said at 12:43pm, who needs to stage specific examples when you know that your point is already probably valid?

That's probably the approach we should take with pedophiles: everyone knows you can obviously tell who's a pedophile just by looking at them. They're either guilty or they're not. We can stop wasting valuable police resources that are currently spent surfing the Net pretending to be 14-year old girls, just by locking up or castrating all those freaky-looking people immediately.

Won't someone please think of the children?

Posted by: athea | April 7, 2006 1:51 PM

Dear HUH?:

I would 'out' this professor but I honestly can't recall HER name. She was a short, fat blonde who wore boots and capes, looked like she should have been behind a protest sign. This was 20+ years ago so she might be in St. E's by now. I was a working adult attending night school and most other students were of normal college age, rich and spoiled beyond belief. Maybe she was trying to provoke us into some kind of dialog but I was so sick of off-the-wall ideas. I was sincerely disappointed I didn't learn much in that class. I was hoping for enlightenment on social groups and their traditions.

On a similar theme, recall the Janet Cooke series on the fictitious little kid in the DC ghetto? What about the learned scholar who claimed wearing mini-skirts made your legs fat because the body forms fat cells to keep warm? How about the story of a birth on a high-jacked airplane in the Middle East? All of these stories were published, then retracted, by the Washington Post. Let he/she who is without sin cast the first stone.

Posted by: Conservative Republican | April 7, 2006 1:54 PM

"everyone knows you can obviously tell who's a pedophile just by looking at them"
And I guess every Mexican is carrying a knife and every black person is carrying a gun? What just what exactly do these pedophiles look like? HELLO, any man who is unshaven and has uncombed hair will be castrated by athea!

Posted by: Lyn | April 7, 2006 2:15 PM

Just for the sake of argument . . . .

Sociologists conduct this kind of experiment all the time. Let's assume that it was not reported as "news" ... that is, no one at NBC told the viewing audience that this "really" happened, and that all relevant facts were fully disclosed to the viewing public, and that the Muslims and the reactions of the NASCAR fans (questions about the choice of venue, which are legitimate, aside for the moment) were accurately and fairly portrayed .... what is so terrible? Experiments, whether social or chemical or medical, are by their nature controlled and "staged." That doesn't render them invalid -- quite the contrary.

In the movie "Gentleman's Agreement," Gregory Peck pretends to be a Jewish man in order to experience anti-Semitism first hand. Did the pretense invalidate the story? In the famous book "Black Like Me," a white author medically modifies his skin pigment and writes devastatingly about the experience of being treated as a black person in mid-20th-century US. The movie and book were both hailed as groundbreaking contributions to anti-discrimination movements. How different is what NBC did (or tried to do)?

Posted by: Meridian | April 7, 2006 2:23 PM

I'm a little disturbed about this. Does anybody remember when "Dateline" did a story on trucks' gas tanks exploding? It turned out that the producers had rigged the trucks to explode more easily. This is starting to look like a trend with "Dateline"--manufacturing stories to fit their own preconceived notions.

Posted by: Chris | April 7, 2006 2:27 PM

Hey Frankey, what do Rednecks look like, White people?

Posted by: WB | April 7, 2006 2:36 PM

From a liberal (me).

Agreed Mr. Fisher, NBC's logic on this is absurd. And dangerous to boot. Suppose some fool had attacked the fake worshipers? Then we'd have a minor version of the cartoon prophet or Koran-flushing controversy and people would die.

And they'd have ignited a controversy that would spill over onto all journalists.

And this from the network that brought us the staged exploding fuel tanks. Will they ever learn?

Using NASCAR as a prop also demonstrates a willingness to sterotype and an attempt to provoke people to confirm said sterotype--which violates so many journalist principles I won't even attempt to list them.

This does not cause me to back off my relentless campaign against Fox's bias, but it darn sure makes me intend to widen the scope of my scorn. I'm not a NASCAR fan, but they surely don't deserve this.

Now that I've angered my liberal brothers and sisters, I'll take a shot at giving my conservative friends equal time...you might enjoy/revile EWM's (aka "The Anti-Kurtz") Fe Fi Faux Fun: Fox Adds Five Cable Channels
http://www.eyewitnessmuse.com/musings.php?p=199


Posted by: The Eyewitness Muse | April 7, 2006 2:37 PM

I am a muslim who prays 5 times a day and then some. And I am a NASCAR fan. I love 24, 48, 5, & 25. I don't miss watching trucks, busch or the cup. As a matter of fact I watch qualitications and happy hour too. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Thanks you.

Posted by: JD Adams | April 7, 2006 2:41 PM

Don't you all know the news only airs what people want to see. The truth is boring, and people don't want to look at the truth on TV. It's always two sides to a story, and as an adult you have to realize this. If you really want to know about something, you're going to need to do some research on your own.

Posted by: J | April 7, 2006 2:56 PM

Chris is right: this smacks of Jeff Zucker and his exploding pickup truck.

Then again, 20/20 not only sent four black men in a car in Sausalito, California to see if they would be pulled over, but they also sent four white men, too.

Pre-John Stossel, natch.

Posted by: Geen | April 7, 2006 3:01 PM

How is it faking the news to conduct a test? And what's insulting? If nobody in Virginia bothered these guys, then that's the story. If they were hassled, nobody forced the NASCAR fans to hassle them. There's a long and (I think) honorable tradition in operation here. Back in the 19th century, Nellie Bly had herself committed to a madhouse to report on conditions there. Did anybody force the staff to mistreat her? Would Marc Fisher accuse her today of "faking the news?" A lot of people are probably treated badly every day because they look like Muslims, but it isn't news because nobody covers it. NBC decided to change that. Ain't that too damned bad.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2006 4:12 PM

I disagree with you a bit here, Marc. Dateline and other organizations have caught some very serious scams by doing undercover operations, either posing as children to prove a point about sexual predators, or posing as vacationers going to get their car fixed (when the car has hidden cams underneath). I have seen several of these shows come out well. The one you speak of is a bit overboard and unethical. But to say hidden camera reporting doesn't have a role in this world is absurd. It really is. You know better, right? Correct yourself :) TV journalists are an entirely different breed than print journalists, and unless you've done both, try not to be so critical of your fellow media folk.

Posted by: Dan | April 7, 2006 4:12 PM

Dan, I'll agree that TV journalists are a different breed; their craft requires different skills. But I have enough respect for the best broadcast journalists to know that it's not by any means necessary to stage events or fake the news to report a story. Sure, it's harder to get compelling footage if you stick to journalistic ethics and limit yourself to observing what would be happening if you weren't there. But that's what honest journalism is about--taking readers to see events and places and people they might not otherwise get to meet. Investigative journalism probes wrongdoing by following the paper trail, uncovering hidden connections and making the links between seemingly unrelated events. But when we cross the line into concocting the news, we abuse the trust of the audience and we blur the line between fact and fiction. Maybe people at the Martinsburg Speedway shout insults at Muslims; I don't know. If they do, NBC could send a reporter to go down and talk to folks to whom this has happened. But creating a provocation for the purpose of getting it on camera isn't uncovering wrongdoing; it's doing wrong. And good TV journalists would agree with every word I've just written.

Posted by: Fisher | April 7, 2006 4:22 PM

What is wrong with a little test?
I would have picked a baseball game ;-)
Someone is jealous they did not think of the idea. I guess they are also afraid of viewing the real average american sentiments towards a religion that wants to kill us infidels.
I guess we forget about the past attacks on our country.
Just turn the cheek, stick your liberal head in the sand and be sure not to offend any minorities. Soon they will be the majority and then all will be well.
Come....on Give me a break.

Posted by: RF | April 7, 2006 4:32 PM

Red State Amuricans

If it walks like a duck!

Posted by: dc | April 7, 2006 4:51 PM

There's a difference between this and the pedophilia story. This was a huge crowd of people, some of whom probably didn't even see anyone getting down to pray (others could have been in their way, the "Muslims" might have been out of their line of site, etc.). Even if one or two people harrassed them, what would that have said? That one or two people out of hundreds were prejudiced. That's probably not how it would have looked on NBC's report, though.

It's astounding how prejudiced NBC is here. What the hell is a Muslim-looking Muslim? Can we send some Jewy Jews in next? How about some real homo-looking gays? What the hell? And why NASCAR? Why not, say, a business conference, at, say, Harvard?

Speaking as someone who looks Middle Eastern to many (I'm of Indian descent), and as someone who has known many a self-described redneck, I'm quite offended that NBC decided to do this. The rednecks I know are some of the least snotty, least condescending, least prejudiced people I've ever met - way less prejudiced, condescending and snotty than the dolts running Dateline, apparently.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2006 4:52 PM

Ok Marc. I agreed with everything you said--even that this Dateline piece in question was unethical. It is. But your sweeping statement: "Often, TV producers will try to defend hidden camera reporting and staged events as the only way they can get a story about people doing stuff they would never do in front of a camera. Well, isn't that just too bad?"

Hidden Camera reporting can be useful in my opinion. Journalists often use phone recorders for interviewing and have no legal reason to tell the other person on the line that the call is being recorded for accuracy. So, if Dateline uses a hidden camera to show that bad things really do happen in Super Markets or in Car Shops, I say do it.

Maybe staged events could be criticized, but I feel hidden camera material has a role in journalism. How else do you prove that mechanics really do sometimes punch a hole in your gas tank and then say you need a new gas tank? All these years it was just a conspiracy theory, right?

How else do you prove that the President was warned of Hurricane Katrina? Ok, OK, he knew the camera was there....

Maybe I am confusing the two scenarios, and I probably am.

But I agree, the Dateline NASCAR piece was unethical and over the top.

I guess that's all you are trying to say...and I should shut up :)

Posted by: Dan | April 7, 2006 5:05 PM

You're all wet on this Marc. Television is about images. The image of alleged rednecks responding to muslims brings the story home. Its isnt the story but it makes the story resonate! I watched a similar story on the ambivalent nature of Americans. They staged a young kid (girl) being grabbed by an older man. The girl was screaming "you're not my dad" and yet witnesses repeated walked on by doing nothing. That image makes the story resonate. Yes, it was staged and completed fake (the girl was an actor and the guy an off-duty cop). But would it have the same impactwithout the image? Hell no!! Or maybe you are suggesting that, had the rednecks reacted adversely, it would be because of the cameras? Or invalidated because of the cameras? Sorry, cameras dont make the news, they only capture it.

Posted by: Truth be told | April 7, 2006 5:14 PM

Stealth events intended to "test" the reaction of unsuspecting targets not only have a place in journalism (from Nellie Bly to 60 Minutes), but also in the law, particularly in civil rights protection.

A typical tactic to ferret out housing discrimination is to send white "buyers" (or "renters") to inquire about a property, and then send black people after them to see if they're treated differently. Sneaky? You bet. Effective? Yes. Unethical? No way.

All these situations involve artifice. The ethical key is whether Dateline intended to report the experiment for what it was -- an experiment -- with full disclosure of all the details, in context. Obviously if it was reported as "news" without disclosure of the network's involvement in creating the situation, THAT would be "faking the news," dishonest and unethical. Based on the practice of past Dateline shows, including the pedophile stings (which, by the way, are not entrapment under the law), there is no reason to believe that's what they were intending to do.

Choosing a NASCAR event as the laboratory did indeed reveal the producers' cultural bias: their assumption that NASCAR yahoos are likely to be intolerant and a source of good TV. A less sensational approach would have used a downtown street or subway station, somewhere that attracts a broad cross-section of people, cultures, etc.

Posted by: Meridian | April 7, 2006 6:01 PM

If NBC has integrity, they'll run a segment titled "NASCAR Fans In Virginia Are Neighborly Toward Their Fellow Muslim Citizens," and show their Martinsville footage. I'll not hold my breath.

What is so maddening is the consistent sterotyping by NBC and the fact that the story the left/media is always looking for is some variant of "Why America Is Uniquely Horrible And Deserves Scorn Beyond All Other Nations Save Israel."

Kudos to Raw Fisher for taking note of this story.

Posted by: cbot | April 7, 2006 6:01 PM

Both sides make a good point here. My question is the response from those angered by this scenario that include the ever popular screed against the "leftist media". Why is the action uniquely liberal or leftist in nature? Which part of the activity shows that the producers of the show happen to have liberal political leanings? Their presumptions may certainly be elitist, but there is nothing in the story that indicates that the hold political leanings that are conservative or liberal.

Posted by: John In Houston | April 7, 2006 6:10 PM

If the Christshun Coalishun had sent a group of their faithful to Berkeley to pray in the quad you would have praised them as heroes fighting against the Left Coast liberals and fighting the good fight against the oppression of political correctness.

But hey what would NBC or any other raghead have to worry about? After all we don't lynch, rape or murder based on religion, skin color or sexual orientation in this country. Do we?

Posted by: DES | April 7, 2006 6:18 PM

I actually found the whole situation pretty insulting, even though I wouldn't categorize myself as the type who would go to a Nascar race. What I really find interesting isn't so much that they were trying to find out how Muslims were treated, but rather to make a high school journalism jab at a group that they don't understand and hence make broad stereoptype about. As in, "Well, they're rednecks, so they must be racists. They probably all have Rebel flags hangin' on their walls at home." Typical arrogance. Typical hypocrisy as well, from "intellectuals" looking down on the "country folk." I also find it interesting that instead of looking for a what to positively impact the opinions that people have towards Muslims, they're just trying to show that these obviously lowerclass denizens are racist bigots. The point is, that people see the beheadings and bombings and shootings, and they see how Islamic radicals are involved in nearly every single conflict across the globe, and yet the hypocritical PC police demand that they only view the Muslim faith positively. It is expected that we have no criticism of Muslims, and that we pretend that we see nothing hypocritical about their faith, about their mistreatment of women, of their desired (and stated) subjugation of all other faiths, and their suppression of all criticism of their religion (i.e. the murder of van Gogh in Amsterdam, the ridiculous outburst worldwide from the cartoons that American newspapers were too cowardly to print). There is this idea of supreme protection of all things Muslim...and yet I just read in USA Today about some guy deciding that Christ must have walked on ice, not water; who would believe that the center of their faith might be able to do a miracle or two? After all, that would fit in the constant derision by liberals of a peaceful faith found right here in America, where Christians just take it because they understand freedom of speech and expression of opinion. I'd like to see those same "researchers" talk about the kind of person Mohammed was. Now that would be the day.

Posted by: ADL | April 7, 2006 10:14 PM

Cbot is right -- I'd feel more charitable to Dateline if they followed through on their "investigation" and showed the resulting footage of the non-incident, which would show that NASCAR fans are every bit as tolerant and non-outraged as most other Americans are toward people exercising their faith.
I am almost positive, however, that Dateline will NOT use this footage, and the "result" of their investigation will more sensationalistic and in line with what they wanted to prove. That's not really journalism any more, by any stretch.

Posted by: NoVa, too | April 11, 2006 11:42 AM

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