Monday, May 09, 2011


America needed a psychological boost. It got one with the daring military raid that killed Public Enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden.

For years, liberal journalists and pundits have been telling us to be understanding of the "Arab Street." Sunday night, May 1, the American Street spoke loud and clear.

For all of the positives bid Laden's death brought in terms of disruption of international terrorist operations, the most important benefit was psychological. The American people felt good. It raised our confidence in ourselves and our nation's capabilities and our worldwide prestige. It made us believe again, at least briefly, in the effectiveness of government. It renewed our admiration for the heroic men and women of the Armed Services. It was a blow to the confidence of our enemies.

The operation itself, as well as planning and decision-making process, was nothing short of audacious. To be perfectly honest about it, I didn't think President Obama had that in him. It was a terrible, credibility-bending mistake, for conversative radio show hosts and print commentators to offer tepid praise and then criticize around the edges. Let's be honest about something else: If Ronald Reagan had followed exactly the same course, these very same talkers/writers would exhaust all available oxygen and ink in congratulating him.

Congratulations and thank you to all who played any role in this breathtaking mission.

Attention, Indianapolis media cheerleaders and chatroomers: Despite the "hopes" and "wishes" of Randy Bernard and Terry Angstadt, it is highly, extremely unlikely -- put the chances at near zero -- that the IndyCar series will be at Phoenix International Raceway next season. Unlike others who just take Bernard's "hope" and run with that as if fact, I did some actual reporting -- we used to call that "journalism" -- last week. I directly spoke with two people who would know if such a race were on the horizon -- their names are John Saunders, International Speedway Corp. president, and Bryan Sperber, PIR president. I don't see the need to recount every detail here, because those who have read this blog or what I've written for the Arizona Republic already know them, but anyone paying attention to what is happening (and planned) at PIR from a construction standpoint, anyone who knows anything about the Valley economy (especially as it pertains to home values) and anyone who has two-cents worth of knowledge (or experience) in the Business of Racing or the way ISC runs its biz would know better. Unless IndyCar is prepared to lease the track and promote a race itself, or offer extremely favorable terms on sanction fees, there is not going to be a PIR date. Why IndyCar continues to pump this, and allow others to keep hope alive on this subject, is unfathomable to me from a PR standpoint. Maybe it soothes teams and sponsors that would like to be in the Phoenix market, but it's not reality. Why build-up false hopes for whatever tiny fragment of an IndyCar fan base that remains in the Valley? Credibility counts. Of course, I can see a self-fulfilling tale here of how IndyCar tried, putting by implication a bogus blame on ISC and PIR.

FAST LINES: Let's start with the obvious -- TV is a VISUAL medium. The picture sends the message. I've written before about the inattention of PR people who allow their drivers to be interviewed in front of a competing sponsor's ID, or with a portable toilet in the background. The IMS Productions/Versus version of this came on the debut of the weekly IndyCar show -- NASCAR cars testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the background. That's the way to build your sport and your brand! I'd call it an unbelievable oversight, but I know better, anything dumb is possible with this group. They just proved it -- AGAIN . . . I see the IRS is still chasing after Helio Castroneves. If Helio didn't want to pay any taxes, he should have put all his money in General Electric . . . I watched ESPN's PTI Monday fully expecting the co-hosts' first discussion topic would be the loud and passionate reaction of fans at baseball games (shown on the network) as word spread of Osama bid Laden's death. Silly me. Nothing is more important to those guys than the NBA playoffs -- not even a great national moment . . . Nice try at "spin" on Donald Trump skipping the Indy 500 pace car driver gig because he might run for president. The inconvenient fact, of course, is actual announced prez candidates have been profiling at races for many years. And, for the record, I suggested A.J. Foyt as the pace car driver in this blog on March 6 . . . While it's trendy to knock traditional media outlets, the breaking news on bin Laden was a triumph of reporting for most of the major legacy media organizations and proved there's a need for them to continue in the age of Twitter "journalism" . . . The Long Beach Press-Telegram will outsource its sports, features and photo departments to the (non-union) Daily Breeze. Well-known columnist Doug Krikorian is among those impacted as, no doubt, will be the depth of future coverage of the Grand Prix . . . Wonderful and appropriate that the media center at Darlington was renamed in honor of Jim Hunter . . . A reminder I'm a semi-regular guest on Sirius XM Channel 94's The Checkered Flag show, which is live after every Formula One race. My friend Rick Benjamin hosts with Circuit of the Americas and F1-at-Austin, Tex. Chairman Tavo Hellmund as co-host. I've been on after every GP this season.

Here's 33 things to watch for in May:

[ more next Monday . . . ]