***update: NBC official confirms that Dateline is working on the story…see below..Little Green Footballs sheds light on Tarek El-Messidi, Tennessee-based Muslim activist and purported author of the e-mail solicitation detailing Dateline’s wishes; LGF also has details on a similar media sting operation by Czech TV…***
Mailbox is filling up with reaction to my blog post this morning about NBC’s Dateline show and its apparent Nascar fans-must-be-racist sting.
Reader Joanthan M. calls for “An Army of NASCAR Davids” (meme nod to Glenn Reynolds):
Just had a thought I wanted to share – what a great opportunity NBC’s news creation can provide to the blogosphere!. If word gets out to NASCAR fans (perhaps in part via your blog) that 1) NBC is trying to paint them as ignorant bigots, 2) they should be extra-super-duper nice to Muslims at the Apr. 8 race, and 3) they should bring their handheld video cameras to tape NBC taping them so that when NBC can’t find any bigotry to air, they can expose Dateline as the one possessed with bigotry, of the anti-red stater race fan variety, that is.
Reader Richard B. asks:
Wouldn’t it be great to have the readerboard at the track flash the message “Hello Dateline NBC and your hidden cameras” a few times?
Reader L. suggests the following NASCAR banners:
“Nascar welcomes NBC-Muslim Sting operation!”
Chuck S. wrote to Dateline:
Why don’t you attend a KKK rally somewhere? It may make for better TV. If you’re really looking for discrimination in America, take a conservative to an anti-war rally instead.
E.L. Core’s message to Dateline:
What a great idea! Looking for ringers… I mean, looking for Moslems to expose America’s abiding bigotries. You all are so brilliant, not to mention original.
Here’s another idea for you: why don’t you send out a call for some other ringers… I mean, why don’t you look for some Christian fundamentalists who would be willing to go into some intriguing arenas to see how they’ll get treated.
I don’t mean NASCAR, of course. How about, say, the regular meetings of the San Francisco city council. Or a Broadway or Hollywood casting call. You could have the ringers… I mean, you could have the Christians prominently display a cross on their attire, or carry a Bible, or something like that.
So, what do you think?
Reader Bruce P.:
I just called the NASCAR Corporate office, and spoke with a Public Relations representative. I asked if they were aware of the “stunt” NBC is trying to pull, and she told me that they are aware of it. I tried to get more details out of here, but she said “No Comment”. She was super polite, and I wished her good luck.
So, if I hurry up and grow a beard and wear a turban (oh, and downplay that whole “being-an-evangelical-Christian-and-not-Muslim” thing), I can get flown to a NASCAR race at NBC’s expense, provided I wear a wire? Sign me up. I hope some lucky NASCAR fan manages to “win” the trip to the race, even if it can’t be me.
Reader Al P.:
It may interest you to know that NBC Sports has been a broadcast partner for NASCAR (along with FOX Sports) since 2001. They televise 17 to 20 races in Nextel Cup and the lower-level Busch Series, mostly in the late summer and fall each year. Their contract will expire at the end of 2006 (NBC chose not to renew their side), but the fact that NBC Sports is so closely associated with this growing sport makes their “sting” more outrageous.
NASCAR guy and reader E.B. writes that “NASCAR is not racing in Virginia on April 8, they’re in Texas. However, I will be at the Richmond track on April 8, doing a Richard Petty session, and I’ll keep my eyes open.”
Like they say in the broadcast news biz: Stay tuned.
440pm EST update: Just received this forwarded e-mail from the nationally syndicated Lars Larson radio show, which contacted NBC official Jenny Tartikoff and invited her or someone from NBC on to talk about the network’s, uh, news-gathering methods:
Subject: RE: WESTWOOD ONE INTERVIEW REQUEST
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2006 16:26:08 -0400
From: Tartikoff, Jenny (NBC Universal)
We’re going to pass on your request. For your background information, please note that:
“Dateline” is looking into this story. We were intrigued by the results of a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll and other articles regarding increasing anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States. It’s very early on in our newsgathering process, but be assured we will be visiting a number of locations across the country and are confident that our reporting team is pursuing this story in a fair manner. We did not write or authorize Tarek El-Messidi’s email.
Glenn Reynolds quips: “If they air the show, I want to see the raw, unedited tape.”
Blogger Chad Evans caught a hilarious error in NBC’s sting operations:
I hasten to point out that you’ve been so engrossed by the staging of the news by NBC, something that is worthy to discuss of course, but you miss something that I found hysterical. The email you cite says the following:
“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.
They recently taped two turbaned Sikh men attending a football game in
Arizona to see how people would treat them. They set them up with hidden
microphones and cameras, etc.”
Fair enough, I suppose, if that’s what they want to find. But as an example
of how their sting operation works, the email cites they sent two Sikhs to a
football game. Sikhs are not Muslims, in fact the two religions
historically hate each other and there have been wars fought between the
While NBC News is out trying to find discrimination, they are already
blurring the lines of religious reality by not recognizing a Sikh is neither
a Muslim or an Arab. How can viewers react to the news segment if they are
misled that the two men at a football game in Arizona weren’t actually what
the segment was about?
Reader Mathias S.:
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I think NBC staging this kind of news is a great idea. I look forward to their next installment: when they send an orthodox Jew (preferably with a wearing a skull cap, full beard and carrying a Torah) into a mosque of “the religion of peace” and tries to sit with the women. Wackiness will ensue! I can’t really grow a decent beard, but I would volunteer in exchange for a good life insurance policy (gotta take care of the family) and some body armor.
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