Kurt Busch verbally abuses his team on the radio like no other driver, knowing full well that the radio is a communication system open for anyone with a scanner or NASCAR.com TrackPass subscription to hear.
Busch has dealt with the issue of losing his temper on the team radio – which he sometimes does at shocking levels – for years, berating his team on numerous occasions while the public listens in.
Yet when Busch vowed Thursday to tone down his vitriolic radio rants, he cited negative media attention as his reasoning.
"I always laugh and sit there and listen to you guys contradict yourselves, saying you want us to be more colorful," he said. "But also what you want to do to a driver is just thrash him when he shows personality. That's what I'm going through with this radio."
Upon hearing Busch's comments, a handful of fans immediately piled on and said reporters should stop making him look bad.
But if Busch is perceived negatively for his radio chatter, he needs to look no further than a mirror for someone to blame.
Busch has long lamented what he calls the "People magazine" culture of the NASCAR media. He makes no secret of his distaste for the he-said, she-said nature of the reporting when it comes to dealing with on-track incidents.
NASCAR, though, is a sport built on the drivers' personalities. Many fans pick their favorites based on personality over performance, and the media often covers the races accordingly. It's as much about the people in the cars as the cars themselves.
So when reporters – all of whom have scanners and publicize the race chatter during the events – hear a driver like Busch going ballistic inside the car, are they supposed to ignore it?
I'd sympathize with Busch's gripes a bit more if the media were digging up dirt on his personal life – an area that doesn't necessarily affect the competition. But this reporting is directly related to what's happening on the track; every fan can hear what he's saying to the team.
The validity of the charge that the media pleads for drivers to not be vanilla and then "thrashes" the ones that show personality depends on your view of what "personality" entails.
If "showing personality" means angrily screaming at crewmen on the team radio, then yes, it's likely the media does portray that in a poor light. But it's very possible to "show personality" without being a jerk.
So if a person chooses to act like a jerk, don't shoot the messengers who report it.