Fox Sports says it has deleted a segment from the online version of its “NASCAR Racehub” program because of a joke made by a guest about NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez.
The network has also issued a statement saying it regrets the incident and is investigating the steps leading up to it.
The controversy started when actress and comedian Sarah Tiana — a guest on Thursday’s program — was asked to come up with interesting facts about a number of NASCAR drivers.
When Suarez’s name came up, Tiana said he was the driver considered “least likely to hit the wall … or even get close to any wall now that Donald Trump is president.” The joke was accompanied by an on-screen graphic featuring the same words.
Here's the portion of the segment that includes the Suarez "jokes" pic.twitter.com/J5RaOsFSaB
— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) March 16, 2018
After she made the joke, Tiana then added, “I’m just happy he’s driving with insurance.”
Several of the show’s co-hosts, including legendary driver Jeff Gordon and Daytona 500 runner-up Bubba Wallace — who is African-American — were seen laughing at the joke.
Yahoo Sports columnist Nick Bromberg was not amused by the jokes, describing them as being “tasteless … and that’s being nice.” He contacted Fox Sports for a comment about the segment.
The network responded with a statement of regret, but not necessarily an apology. “The views expressed on Thursday’s NASCAR Race Hub by comedian/actress Sarah Tiana do not represent the views of FOX Sports,” the statement said. “We regret any insensitivity displayed toward drivers, teams and fan bases, and are reviewing the process involved in creating the segment.”
While Bromberg could not hide his outrage over the comments, a number of Twitter users wondered what the fuss was about.
NASCAR has been under scrutiny by some for not doing enough to attract more diversity among its drivers, and the sport’s CEO, Brian France, came under criticism for openly supporting President Donald Trump in the 2016 election — in part, because of Trump’s support for a border wall.
But France helped launch the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program, a 10-week, paid summer internship that targets multicultural undergraduate and graduate students with high academic standing at elite institutions.
The internship program is not just aimed at expanding the sport’s diversity among its driver base, but all jobs within the motorsports community.
Tiana, of course, is a comedian, and not an employee of NASCAR or Fox Sports. Comedians are famous for making off-color jokes based on stereotypes. Some are funny, some are not.
No word yet on whether or not Suarez was as offended by the joke as at least one sports columnist was.
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