During Fox’s telecast of the Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR race in Las Vegas on Sunday, Fox’s NASCAR commentator Michael Waltrip and studio host Chris Myers displayed their ignorance by ridiculing former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin over words she never even said or that have never even been associated with her.
After getting tongue-tied on live television when attempting to say that Brad Keselowski’s crew chief Paul Wolfe was a master strategist, Waltrip mistakenly said Wolfe was a “master strategery.” Clearly embarrassed, Waltrip, like any insecure man, then immediately tried to make himself feel better by referring to Wolfe as someone who had “Palin strategery,” linking “strategery” to Palin.
One huge problem.
Waltrip made a fool of himself, for Palin has never been accused of making up the word “strategery.” Will Ferrell, in a Saturday Night Live episode in October of 2000, used “strategery” in a skit about the presidential debate between Bush and Al Gore to mock Bush.
What Ferrell did to Bush was similar to what Tina Fey did to Palin when Fey, playing Palin in a Saturday Night Live skit during the 2008 election, said she “could see Russia from my house.”
Palin never said those words, but the NASCAR commentators apparently believed Palin did, for Waltrip (@mw55) and Myers (@The_ChrisMyers), who brought up that reference when he referred to seeing Russia from the finish line, also laughed at Palin’s expense when they should have been laughing at themselves.
Waltrip and Myers appear in a studio show called the “Hollywood Hotel,” and their jabs at Palin mirrored something that would have come straight out of liberal Hollywood. Their comments angered many NASCAR fans and viewers, since Palin has always supported and been a big fan of the sport.
In 2010, Palin enthralled the NASCAR faithful when she attended the Daytona 500 as a VIP guest. Palin was watching this year’s Daytona 500, tweeting her support for Danica Patrick during the final laps of the race. Patrick became the first woman to win a pole in a NASCAR race when she did so at Daytona. As Breitbart Sports noted, she became one of the few drivers ever–along with legends like Tony Stewart and A.J. Foyt–to have led laps at the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500.
Waltrip’s and Myers’s mocking of Palin should be disconcerting for NASCAR and Fox. NASCAR cannot afford to lose its core supporters, many of whom are Reagan Democrats and identify with Palin’s populist, Jacksonian, Tea Party, independent-conservative appeal.
Second, Fox Sports 1, with a heavy dose of NASCAR on its schedule, will debut in August as the anti-establishment all-sports national network. As Breitbart Sports reported, Fox Sports Co-President and COO Eric Shanks said, “fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming.”
Waltrip’s and Myers’ comments, though, were reminiscent of something that would occur on ESPN or CNN, the network whose newest sports hire, Rachel Nichols, wondered if NASCAR’s sponsorship with the NRA for April’s running of the NRA 500 would repel mainstream voters away from the sport even though a Gallup poll recently found the NRA was more popular than President Barack Obama. These are the networks Fox Sports 1 will be competing against, and Waltrip’s and Myers’ comments threaten to hurt the fledgling cable network’s brand and repel the consumers that it may need to make up its foundation so the network can grow.
There is no figure in American politics who is more anti-establishment than Palin and no movement that is more anti-establishment than the Tea Party movement she leads, as evidenced by then-Sen. Jim DeMint’s observation in the summer of 2012 that Palin’s endorsement makes the most impact in Republican primaries.
Andrew Breitbart always noted that culture was upstream from politics. And, in many instances, sports has been upstream from culture.
Last Friday, Palin urged conservatives to not only cling to their God, guns, and Constitution, but to also influence culture by going into Hollywood and sports. She did so precisely because liberal commentators–like Bob Costas, who exploited the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher to push for gun control the day after the tragedy on NBC–have been using sports to take digs at conservatives or advance liberal agendas. But culture often impacts–and sometimes not in positive ways–sports as well, as was evidenced during Sunday’s NASCAR telecast.
Palin most likely would have never expected NASCAR to be another sport more conservatives needed to “infiltrate” in order to counter prevalent liberal biases.
Photo credit: Sarah Palin Facebook page