Creating the news — Jerry Springer meets Dan Rather

News is a product. It’s a product that sells best if the cachet is prejudice or fear, and it’s apparent that in the race for viewers all the stops are being pulled out by Dateline NBC. You have to wonder about their willingness to piss off NASCAR with the contract ending soon.

After bringing Muslim men to Martinsville Speedway in Virginia to gauge the reaction of NASCAR fans, Dateline NBC won’t have its cameras at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.

In a statement released Thursday, NBC defended its reporting tactics, saying “there have been a lot of inaccurate comments” and that Dateline “had barely begun its reporting.”

Dateline is not planning a story about NASCAR,” the statement said. “We are following up on a recent poll and other articles indicating an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. We are curious about whether that is true. The NASCAR race at Martinsville was a stop we have made in our research on this story.

“There is nothing new about the technique of witnessing the experience of someone who might be discriminated against in a public setting.”

NASCAR officials were angry after learning Dateline recruited Muslims to attend the DirecTV 500. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the group walked around outside the track without any reaction from fans.

“It’s outrageous that a news organization like NBC would seek to create the news instead of reporting the news,” Poston said.

60 Minutes-style confrontation journalism is now the technique used by most local stations, and some CBS affiliates will also go to extreme lengths to manufacture a teaser for the ten o’clock news.

If Jerry Springer and Dan Rather were able to mate with each other, then maybe their offspring would grow up to be journalists like the ones responsible for these incidents.