Is this Bernie’s new propaganda machine?

panzers

Propaganda wars, require a propaganda machine to deliver the required message.

And as Will Buxton posted in his recent blog article, “The Right Formula”, there are those in the F1 media who are helping spread a negative view of Formula One.

In just 24 hours we’ve had a flood of headlines, “Audi entry would be ‘super’ for F1”, “Ecclestone predicts F1 strategy Group Flop” and the most dramatic today, “F1 race promoters demand ‘urgent’ engine rule change.” All these are from Motorsport.com. They, and a host of recent articles have been published there by Adam Cooper, Jonathan Noble and others.

In most of Cooper’s recent articles he reveals he has had exclusive access to Ecclestone. To the casual observer, this may be perceived as a scoop. However, there is a clear polemic and platform being provided for Ecclestone by Cooper, who publishes these pieces without comment or opinion.

Jonathan Noble, ex F1 correspondent of Autosport.com is now accredited with the latest of these shock and awe stories. “F1 race promoters demand ‘urgent’ engine rule change.” Noble reveals, “a direct request has been sent to motor racing’s governing body for it to back a rules overhaul”.

Really? And how would Jonathan know this? Surely even the FIA wouldn’t leak to him bad publicity about their continued insistence that their new F1 engines remain.

The letter has been composed by Ron Walker, the retired promoter of the Australian GP and a long-time friend and ally of Bernie Ecclestone. Walker is the nominal head of a loose organisation by the name of FOPA. (the Formula One Promoters’ Association).

Ron Walker was still the promoter of the Melbourne race when the new V6 Turbo engines first raced in 2014. He was highly critical of them then and his views have not changed since he retired,

However, if you look carefully at what the author Noble writes, the letter to the FIA is not from FOPA and “F1 race promoters” per se; it is a personal letter from Walker. It’s not hard to join up the dots. Copy of letter goes from Walker to Ecclestone, and from Ecclestone to Motorsport.com/Noble.

So crisis over everyone – the circuit promoters are not in revolt. In fact a number of them who opposed the new engine formula, have changed their minds having seen parents bring more children to their events – no longer concerned their young ears will be shattered by the scream of wasted energy going up in sound.

But at the heart of Walker’s engine overhaul proposal, lies the old chestnut that is the Christian Horner suggestion of a simplified V6 bi-turbo unit with a KERS battery bolted on the side. Ecclestone has backed this proposal from the start.

This minutiae is drowned out by the 1,000 BHP headline soundbite and associated rhetorical distractions which dominate the article.

Also unreported, is this power unit solution is not backed by any of the current F1 engine manufacturers. Even Horner’s engine partner Renault have stated this is not how they wish to see the development of future F1 engines.

Christian has merely been flying a kite for Bernie.

F1 writers obviously make money by providing stories for their paymaster’s publications and previously little known web sites pay established authors to gain credibility.

But when a news outlet repeatedly becomes the mouth-piece of Ecclestone, there is more to this than meets the eye.

In fact Motorsport.com, where many of Cooper’s recent articles have been posted, was recently sold. Joe Saward charts the changing ownership of the website in his Nov 2014 article entitled, “The bizzare world of the F1 media”

The site was traded for little more than £20,000 then goes on a recruitment spree that will lead to a huge leap in cost base. One of those costs being a new large salary head above that of $6,640pm previously paid to Motorsport.com’s owner and producer of the GMM news stories.

Avquiring the services of Autosport’s editor Charles Bradley, was the lynchpin which gives the website development project a degree of substance. Then Jonathan Noble, has been Autosport through since 1999 and so this career jump must have been a most attractive proposition.

Adam Cooper writes almost daily for the site, along with other well known writers – though these individuals would most likely be on piece work or a retainer.

So, where has all this big time investment come from. Mike Zoi, whoseT1T Lab LLC operation acquired Motorsport.com has expertise in “strategic development, branding, corporate alliances, corporate websites, and investor relations”.

But why would he take on the financial might of Haymarket Publications who own Autosport, and have dominated this space for some considerable time?

These are unanswered questions, because Zoi has made no comment on this project – though it is hardly insignificant.

The tone of the articles prior to the big pow pow in Biggin Hill appeared to come straight from the FOM spin machine.  Which gives an indication of where influence has been brought to bear.

Motorsport.com appear to have been using some ‘interesting practices’. The week before the Biggin Hill meeting, some articles had hundreds of Facebook ‘likes’, whilst others just 2 and 3.

Facebook ‘likes’ can of course be bought.

The articles posted by Motorsport.com have never really attracted more than a hand full of comments. Then in early May, hundreds appeared below many of their posts. A closer examination of these long lists of apparent interaction with the site revealed they were lifted from a Facebook site. Clearly, those posting their opinions were not reading the content above where their comments appeared.

It seems at times, nothing changes in F1-land – but knowing who is operating the megaphone helps us understand why we are hearing a particular message.

31 responses to “Is this Bernie’s new propaganda machine?

      • Bernie’s sycophant has been cast asunder? Highly doubt that. He has been the magic connection with Bernie; hard to believe that has changed. What has he ever written that is independent from Bernie? Nothing.

      • “Cast asunder”
        Do you mean he stil is what he always was, but with camouflage? (To me, there’s no camouflage, but I’m not an Avid pitpass watcher)

  1. This battle for control within F1, makes the battle for the ‘Iron Throne’ looks like child’s play….

  2. Didn’t Joe Saward wrote an article when Motorsport.com bought GMM and now motorsport,com has been bought within half a year of them buying GMM… if Bernie really is behind buying motorsport.com it effectively means that Bernie controls 95% of all F1 related news posted online since GMM provides nearly every F1 website with, including in the not so distant past thejudge13… 😉 (I’m glad the GMM news is gone, it might mean less news but in return we only get quality news ;-))

    • Motorspor.,com always owned GMM as far as I understand. It all was the work of an Aussie called Andrew Maidland – who threatened Adam Parr for stealing a sentence without credit in his book – “The art of war”

    • +1000 re the lack of GMM content; I’m glad that stopped. It was generally BS.

  3. But what about the fans. How many % want to go back to v8? How many want to go further back to v10? How many want ferrari to have a v12? How many actually like the v6? How many fans know that fia doesnt give a f what the fans want? So many questions, so little answers…

  4. I should imagine,given the current system of allocating the track and pit passes to the press that its a real mine field. F1 has always been an elite environment and you can spend years developing the contacts just to get a story. The likes of Joe and James Allen really have their wings clipped with what they can say or print,it would have a real impact on their access to the paddock. This is why I love sites like this,run by real enthusiasts who receive very little payment(if any)..the true is always a hard pill to swallow and given that F1 really is getting a negative review from the fans its up to the likes of the Judge and hippo to bring us an unbiased view of our chosen sport..the posts that get printed here really get the brain thinking and the forum members are a pretty knowledgeable bunch.

    • Thank you @oddball

      TJ13 has never been paid to write a story. We were the only site reporting the slow death of Caterham – because people on the ground told us what was going on.

      The fact neither Kolles or Fernandes threatened us – tells its own tale

    • While I generally agree with what you say, Joe has been, for the last six months or so, very outspoken as regards to the problems of F1, including Bernie, Todt, money, rules, et al. My take is that, in fact, Joe has been in the forefront. James Allen has recently started to address the problems/issues that F1 faces. These are probably the strongest voices we have to generate change in F1, weak though they be. Really, FOM is only concerned with profits and the ability to take money out of F1. Until the rights are sold we are screwed.

  5. Very pleased to see this type of analytical work here.

    I believe the Motorsport.com article in question was actually written by Jonathan Noble.

    Ironically, it is also Jonathan’s first article for his new employer, having come over to Motorsport.com from Autosport.

      • Mmm. I can promise you that article when first posted had Coopers name attached. It has been changed since we published.

        Motorsport.com are aware of us. We have had more than one communication from them in the past two weeks. So it appears they have changed the author for reasons best known to them.

        We too have now changed the article

        • ” I can promise you that article when first posted had Coopers name attached. It has been changed since we published.”

          Screenshots, Your Honour. Or PDFs. When dealing with such sensitive matters, and especially when dear ol’ Bernard is sniffing around, it’s always sensible to keep some sort of proof. It may or may not hold in courts, but at least you’ll have a case to make…

          • Why on earth would anyone have taken screenshots ? Were people expecting the name of the author to be changed ? Where’s the basis for a conspiracy ? Why don’t I get out more ? Especially, why don’t I get out more ??

          • When writing on sensitive subjects, and the present piece clearly qualifies as that, it is always a safe course of action to keep some evidence / references off-line.

            For instance, when I went berserk in the Ferrari Blingmobile and went on bandying around figures of FOM income distribution to teams and associated bonuses, I made damn sure to keep a local copy of Autosport’s piece that I was referencing to. They can take it off-line at any moment for any reason, but I will still have a “hard copy”, so to speak, of their article that I used as a reference. One can never be too careful when playing with matches…

          • … There’s a lot of generic stuff written on certain sites – maybe not even by whose name is attached – it could be that an author attributed with an article later requests their names be removed.

            The big surprise was that Jonathan Noble’s name is attached to such a piece. As our review observed, it was highly misleading and the polemic and its intent didn’t exactly require Sherlock Holmes to work it out.

            A recent very big change is the large content being published attributed to Adam Cooper – looks like he’s never worked as hard in his life 😉 – And again, someone is paying for this

            Also what is interesting is their comments section that nobody appeared to want to write a comment below the articles, so facebook comments were lifted from elsewhere

            Also of note this practice is not in evidence on the articles posted today.

            The good thing is that Motorsport.com are now providing a huge amount of quoted content. These forms the basis for many other sites to then write op-ed articles – or course recognising the source of the quote.

            So you may see Motorsport.com referenced a fair bit here – but it will just be their quoted content being used – not any opinions expressed therein – necessarily.

            Its easy to stick a microphone in front of someone and record their words – then stitch their phrases together with a sentence or too of linked narrative. It can be hard getting to the individual for the quotes, so in effect Adam C and MS.com are doing us all a tremendous favour 😉

          • I did some research and it appears that Mike Zoi may own Motorsport.com.

            In any case, whoever owns it has a ton of capital, and very aggressive plans to go head to head against AutoSport as a primary site for motorsport journalism. I noiticed their “About us” page lists 10 languages (currently only publishing in 4 languages, French, Spanish, English and Russian), 16 target countries/markets, of which they’re already established in 4 markets, soon to open in 8 others.

            Stealing Autosport’s Editor in Chief, Charles Bradley last year was a big coup which enabled them to pick various top-level veterans, such as Noble and Cooper, and many more beyond those two.

            Anyway, back on topic… I’m more interested in FOPA… There is not much info on this group.

          • @bomboi69
            Welcome to the world of controversial blogs! It should be standard practice for TJ13 to keep screenshots. And the more they need them, the more they’re on the right path!

  6. In fact the answer to F1’s current dilemma about car and engine specifications has actually been prototyped some years ago. There remains a small detail about sourcing appropriate drivers. Here’s a YT video (narrated by Clarkson) showing a working prototype:

  7. Nice piece. I read the article about F1 promoters revolting, and had some serious doubts. This confirmed and clarified my suspicions.

  8. The not too bright boss of Silverstone complained about F1 recently
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/32506582
    He jumped on the noise bandwagon, without thinking of the long term implications of noisy racing. Brands Hatch and Mallory Park have hit problems over noise, it’s only a matter of time before Silverstone comes under similar scrutiny. It only takes a Nimby to move into the area. We’ve all read about the church bells and townhall clocks nonsense.

  9. When I started reading the article and you quote the ‘Audi would be great’, ‘F1 is in trouble’, etc I thought you would make a link between the two, i.e. Bernie wants to draw Audi in, so he has to rubbish the sport to change the engines to a formula that Audi would be happy with to enter.

  10. Awakened to my wife’s far too early alarm as she is in the final stages of prepping her hand-made cloths for a national crafts fair this weekend here in Texas.

    So, I check my email and see a new comment from th13 concerning a new tJ13 post. I read said new post and the resultant comments.

    This article/post is why I receive email notifications from TheJudge13.com (and crew) while the remainder of F1 and related sites and blogs are in a bookmarked F1 folder to be overused at my leisure.

    BTW, as a former in-depth writing, intrepid sports and previously politics journo it would’ve taken an act of prescience for tj to have thought of taking a screenshot before the byline change. It’s a sad fact that it’s so easy in today’s virtual journalism spaces to quickly cover one’s tracks and simply click a couple of buttons to hide poorly-thought out missteps that in the hard copy days would have revealed the truth of a journo’s sentiments or, in this case, the trail of the person, people or entity wagging the dog’s tail.

    Great post tj!

  11. I have never read anything remotely insightful from Adam Cooper, just how pleased he is with himself and his life. His own site contains generally really obvious and dull quote led stories like “Rosberg wants to do better and beat Hamilton”. Since he has no ambition to uncover or report on anything remotely contreversial like you and the excellent JS do then he is surely an obvious BE pen for hire. Decent Formula 1 sites/blogs can now be counted on one hand

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