Editor's Blog: Truth, Lies, And Useful Idiots

In 1952, Doris Lessing, a Nobel prize-winning author, was one of a group of writers and prominent intellectuals who visited the Soviet Union, then in the iron grip of Joseph Stalin, one of history's greatest criminals and murderers. She was introduced to the political leaders of the country, and escorted around the nation by the Russian secret police. Lessing, along with the others on the trip, returned home to write gushing praise of the Soviet Union, describing it as 'a land of hope.'

In her later years, Lessing wrote a damning condemnation of her own naivety during the visit. "I was taken around and shown things as a ‘useful idiot’... that’s what my role was. I can’t understand why I was so gullible." She had seen only what had been shown to her, believed what her guides - all of whom worked for the secret police - told her, and accepted the testimony of the workers she spoke to, workers who had been carefully selected and briefed to project the right message, or sufficiently intimidated to not let any of the real truth slip.

A 'useful idiot' is exactly how I feel all too often working in the MotoGP paddock. With no formal training in journalism, and only my gut instinct to follow, it is hard to sift out the underlying facts from the fiction being projected all around me. Most of motorcycle racing journalism - in fact, most of sports journalism - relies almost entirely on the word of others. A journalist will speak to a rider, or a team manager, or an engineer, or a press officer, and write a news story based on what they have just been told. If they are a good journalist, they will try and verify what they have been told by checking with other sources. If they want to sell newspapers, they will write what suits them, and checking be damned.

Even checking may not get you very far, if the people you are checking your story with are in the pay of the same team or factory as your original source. Team members are either briefed with a company line, or understand from long experience what they can and can't reveal, and just what they should be giving away. Should you wish to know about Yamaha's engine situation, for example, you can check with Lin Jarvis, who will tell you they have the situation under control. You can double check that story with Ramon Forcada, or Jeremy Burgess, or Maio Meregalli, or Wilco Zeelenberg, but all those men know exactly what they are expected to say as well. You can ask the riders, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, but they will only tell you what they have been told by their team managers or crew chiefs. The underlying truth of the situation is hard, or more accurately, almost impossible to get at, as reporters simply have no direct access to the data, other than the published engine lists, which show only which engines have been used, not their mileage or their power output.

You could turn to an engineer from another factory for a comment or advice, but what they tell you is colored by their situation as well. While Yamaha want to convince you that they are not having problems with their engines, so that their riders do not worry about the situation, Honda or Ducati engineers may want you to believe that Yamaha are in trouble for exactly the opposite reason. With so much of motorcycle racing a matter of mental stability and strength, planting the seeds of doubt into the minds of your opponents can be a very useful strategy.

The question of Yamaha's engines is just an example. There are countless other subjects where the truth is hard to come by, and the information you are being fed is both hard to check and potentially unreliable. A team manager may tell you he is talking to rider A about next year, because he may genuinely have an interest in signing rider A. But he may tell you he is talking to rider A in the hope that you tell his current rider, B, or rider C from another team, in order to force their hand. By feigning interest in one rider, they may be trying to pressure another rider into signing a contract. If you as a journalist write 'Team X is close to signing rider A,' rider C may fear that he could miss out on the seat at Team X, and agree to ride for less money, or with fewer conditions. Riders play exactly the same game, telling you they are talking to lots of teams in the paddock - maybe even close to signing with a particular team - as a means to put pressure on the team they would really like to sign for. The courteous team managers will tell you when this is what they are doing, but courteous team managers are few and far between.

So how do you know what to believe? And even if you do believe the information being passed to you, how do you know you aren't being used? The answer to both those question is that you don't. You try to check, you try to dig, you ask everyone and anyone you can find if they know anything about the situation. The trouble is, of course, that the people you try to check the information with may also have their own motives for their reply, meaning that your efforts to check may be as unreliable as the original source.

This is the aspect of writing about MotoGP which I find hardest of all. Naturally, the longer you are in the paddock, the better your contacts and the stronger your network, but even then, it is never 100% reliable. Anything you learn cannot be trusted, and may have been revealed to serve a specific purpose. Throughout my previous occupations (which have been many and varied) a sense of paranoia has been surplus to requirements. When someone told me something, then 99 times out of 100, I could simply rely on it being true. Now, I have to wander through information which is simultaneously swamp and minefield. What you see may not be what you think you see, and it could turn out to be very harmful indeed.

And so I serve my apprenticeship as a useful idiot, learning what I can, trying to verify what I can, and running it past the most cynical part of my soul to see if it passes the smell test. Trying to figure out if I have been told something because the person who told me is trying to use me as a conduit, to transmit a message to someone else, the contents of which I am ignorant of. Or just because they have no objection to the information they have just told you becoming public. Even the traditional warning 'of course, this is all off the record' is of no use. I have been given a frosty reception a couple of times after failing to reveal information which had been told me 'off the record'. I took the injunction to keep information to myself literally; the person who had passed me that information had intended just the opposite.

So next time you read anything I have written, either here on this site or elsewhere, bear in mind that, although I have done my very best to ensure what I write is accurate, and that I only write what I believe to be true, what I think I am reporting may not necessarily be what is going on. I do as much as I can to get to the truth of a story, but even then, I sometimes find myself unwittingly passing on coded messages, the true meaning of which remains obscured to all but the intended recipient. 'Blessent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone.'

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but it's all shades of grey anyway, even in the racing world. :)
Thanks David.

I think everyone who frequents your site genuinely appreciates that you make a thoughtful and genuine attempt at cutting through that rubbish.

Because your stories are frequently of high quality, I feel that I should get off my arse and finally take out a subscription....


No one can fault you for critical reporting of what you have heard, because everyone has to rely on human sources for qualitative information....

What sets you apart is your analytic approach to factual quantitative data, when you crunch the numbers in different ways to give your readers new perspectives on what is happening.

The qualitative footwork, critically considered, combined with quantitative analysis, make for real journalism, which is why your site has always been the best.

A long time ago I read an editorial that I think was in Cycle World, maybe Motorcyclist. I can't remember the author, but it was titled "Don't Trust Anyone." The writer went on for the requisite three columns about why nothing can ever really be trusted. The last line on his piece? Regarding all he had written, "Trust me." Since that day I have had a better understanding of the job of journalist. It's always good to be reminded of how difficult and, at times frustrating, the job can be. Thanks for doing it.

There are plenty of qualified, experienced, and well meaning professional journalists who don't do their job as well as you do.

And sadly there are some 'journalists' in the MotoGP paddock who content themselves with lightly recycled press releases.

If somebody looks you in the eye and tells you exactly what they're *not* thinking, how can you ever hope to get it right all the time? Thanks for trying, you're my favourite blog because you do.

I am wondering if that is the case also. My immediate thought was of Cal and Pol and Tech 3.

If you have not, you should read Pamela Meyer's book "Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception", she also gave an interesting TED talk on the subject. The down side if you master the techniques is that nobody may want to meet with you - the author said after he friends understood her powers of detecting lies, they did not want to meet her in person :)

Recently I was told by the check in clerk at a hotel that my room has been upgraded and that the room has a view of Hyde Park (nice and nice). I did not ask for either yet the clerk volunteered information that was not requested in order to deceive me (of course I only realized this in retrospect). Turns out the room was noisy facing the street and the view, well, it was block by the trees since I was only on the 3rd floor. I filed this one away, hopefully I will be sharp enough next time.

David, as your site grows (and it is by far the best GP site online and equal to anything in print), teams and riders will start to look for you for media release's (particularly for the fans).

This will give you a bit of leverage with recalcitrant team owners/managers/riders;
"Hmmm.... remember a few years ago when you told me Lorenzo was using titanium nipple twisters? ....I looked a bit silly when I printed that .....so how bout showing me one of these new vacuum formed plastic swingarms BEFORE I type it up!"

Stick with it Dave, It'll all come to you

Boy does this article sound like the biggest setup in the world. Sounds like some big evil corporation just bought out my favorite moto journalist.

I'm joking of course. It's an excellent explanation of trying to find the most illusive and difficult to catch fish in the world, Truth.

Even if you find the truth from one side it looks like the fish you set out to catch, from another side it looks just like something the cat has been playing around with for some days now.
MotoMatters - helping you think for yourself! Keep it up David!

From this:

"Most of motorcycle racing journalism - in fact, most of sports journalism - relies almost entirely on the word of others."

... remove the words 'motorcycle racing' and 'sports' and you will understand why I don't read or listen to news any more.

It's the nature of the beast, David. But take solace in this: Motomatters is well-respected and well-read enough that someone is putting in the effort to spin you.


This is exactly why I'll read as long as you write.

Ask Paul Kimmage (sued by the UCI for printing some truth about doping in cycling)... or Edward Snowden or Julian Assange.

Yes, sometimes I think you're biased, but hey, you can't please everybody. So, that's OK too. This is a great site and I'm regular visitor.

Or an excuse for necessary blurring or strategic statements that protect the perpetrator/subject.
It’s a common problem and many would say it’s naive to expect pure honesty from anyone.
Rider/team manager type statements are inevitable given the general attitude to honesty and openness within the employment market. Where there’s money involved people will do pretty much whatever they can to improve their position – perhaps not outright lies or other dishonesty, but ‘stretching of the truth’ or light fabrication ‘never did anyone any harm, did it?’ When you see what employers do when negotiating with workers from a position of strength it’s not surprising that the workers use whatever tools they have to hand. E.g. : ‘Riding a race bike is fun, right? Well, you will be happy to pay for it then?’.
Yam’s engines may or may not be OK, but like a protective parent Jarvis is going to take a ‘glass half full’ view, whilst HRC will spin the opposite. Yes, they could say something sincere and nice like ‘we hope that the rumours about Yam’s engine problems are wrong and that they can push hard to the end of the season without any serious problem that would influence the championship’. Pig/sky etc.
That’s about perspective and competitive spirit.
It would be nice , though, if there was more openness within the paddock – there will always be some politics and a need for confidentiality on certain matters, but the bland statements that get issued after races or for other announcements are hardly worth the paper they are written on. I suppose that the interpretation of that is why sites like this exist… Every cloud…….perhaps someone who doesn’t mind being banned from the paddock should set up MotoLeaks.

Reporting has no need for discerning the truth. Gather as much information as you can,attribute that information's source clearly and honestly and let the chips fall where they may. There is no need to attempt to discern and inform as to what is truth and what is not other than by subjecting all to the light of day. Reporting a falsehood as spoken by someone is just as important as reporting a true statement. Creating a record and providing a trail. If you have facts to disprove a statement,then report it.If you have an opinion as to the truth of a statement,then comment on it. As many facts and as much information as possible is what we need and you do a fine job of that,taking no one at their word nor denying them their say. Exposing someones fiction by accurately reporting it in the first place is where and how truth and lies become exposed. Truth is obscured only when it is not reported. Lies remain hidden only when allowed to remain unexposed. You are our light.Shine on.

It's yet another proof why your analysis, and your site, is the best one around: you're not content and seek only for the best and most accurate infos while questionning your own abilities of seeing things thru what you're being told or what you read.
I guess years of going thru badly disguised lies or PR smoked screens half truths has somehow tainted your views and it's perfectly understandable !

As for me, you're a filter I trust. And i appreciate that you're doubting your own methods as it only shows how much you care.

You're still welcome for a coffee on La Grand Place in Brussels :)

,,,"in the iron grip of Joseph Stalin, one of history's greatest criminals and murderers".

(I do love your coverage of GP & WSB, truely great).

While Stalin was guilty of some deplorable acts in his own country, you must also (hopefully) be aware that it was Stalin & Stalins Russia that effectively won WW2 and saved the world from Nazi domination.

When you consider the acts of some of Americas leaders (Truman of the WW2 era and also the most recent two in particular, Obama & Bush, with their murderous war-mongering and setting up of the truly unconstitutional international civilian spy network, Prism), Stalin is certainly no worse than any of them.

(If you are confused on various nations involvement in WW2, or of the deeds of Stalin or H.S.Truman or more recent US leaders, please consult http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Stone's_Untold_History_of_the_United_States , before responding to me. It gives an alternative view on these issues).

You were setting up your article with the story about Lessing's carefully choreographed visit to a less-than-perfect part of the world, fine. But the line about Stalin was unnecessary. Please stick to motorcycle journalism David, I don't want to hear your political agenda or your views on political history any more than you want to hear mine.


Lay off the mushrooms.....while Stalin and his soldiers role in WWII is undeniably important,comparing the actions of anyone you list to the virtually genocidal actions of Stalin is off base,if only by dint of his far statistically superior body count....but hey,whose counting??

I studied history and politics. Stalin's crimes cannot be understated. The murder of tens of millions of his own citizens was a crime beyond measure. He basically hijacked the revolution once Lenin (who was no cupcake) died.

However, his role in defeating the Nazis is beyond question. Without the sacrifice of the Soviets on the Eastern Front, the war would have gone on a lot longer, and the outcome have been very uncertain. On the other hand, Stalin's agreement to carve up Poland between the Soviets and the Nazis was instrumental in the war starting.

Though Bush's idiotic and ineffective war on terror, and his invasion of Iraq was illegal, unjust and unconstitutional, as is Obama's continuing use of drones to murder innocent civilians, and the use of Prism to spy on its own citizens is a disgrace, neither of those acts come anywhere close to Stalin's murder of tens of millions of his own citizens. There is no comparison.

As a historian, Oliver Stone is a great moviemaker.

I've studied history & politics too so I guess we're even there!

Its funny, you thread on eggshells when there is a Rossi/Stoner argument on here yet march in, chest out with lines like "one of histories greatest murderers" or "his invasion of Iraq was illegal... but there is no comparison".

My point was, your blog didnt need that dirty little sentence about Stalin. We all know what Soviet Russia was and who Stalin was, so did it add anything to the article really?

Why not use the example of Snowden being a useful idiot to the Obama administration until he spoke out not 2 weeks ago? He was in the intelligence gathering industry, and you are too, in a way. It would have been more topical, more on-point, and bolder. Stalins been dead for 60 years.

Could have then used the line "Obama, whilst only a moderately-great murderer, IS histories greatest violator of the 4th amendment". You'd have spilt alot of peoples coffee with that one!

(I better shut up now, in case the G-men show up at my house and whisk me away for social reconditioning!)

&Do please give Stones documentary a go, theres some good stuff in there...

Oliver Stone's narrative of his version of the history of the US is extremely useful (in my opinion).

The important part to identify when you first start watching it is it's title, "The Untold" part, it clearly identifies its intention to remind us that what we generally receive as news (or information) is a form of history that is sanitised (and vetted) to the point of being propaganda.

The "told part" of history as distibuted by the normal media outlets, such as Newscorp, are rarely interested in presenting a full debate of all aspects of any subject. Just the aspects that assist in the sales of their 'product' and suit the political agenda of the self serving view point of the organisation's owners.

Stalin was a mass murderer, as was Mao, and was numerous other communists, facists and despotic dictators. US support of these criminals varied, NOT on what we are led to believe, such as human rights, democratic values and personal freedoms, but rather on vested political and minority (usually hugely wealthy) business interests. Examples of this include the Shah of Iran, Noriega, the recently routed Egyptian president etc etc.

We are all treated with a degree of 'useful idiot' and the lies are almost always disguised as truth (as a lie must be). The problem with power (beit a team manager or the US president) is those that seek it, are almost never fit to wield it. (Mandella? is an exception)

I haven't studied history, but here's my two cents. The term "useful idiot" emerged to describe supporters of the Soviet Union outside it, in the era of the cold war. So, for one thing, the use of Stalin in David's story is the most appropriate one by definition. It's not like he was looking for a dictator and mass-murderer to use in his story and Stalin just popped in his head, or it was part of David's agenda (what kind of agenda could that be anyway?).

Obama, but also Stoner and Rossi are still creating history and therefore one has to be more careful when characterizing them, even if they were relevant, which they're not, at least to the "useful idiot" term.

"We all know what Soviet Russia was and who Stalin was, so did it add anything to the article really?"

Do we? You argue that people should watch Stone's documentary to learn something they didn't know, but do you expect all these people you are addressing this to (all of us really) to know everything about USSR and not the basics regarding the US? I would think not. By the way, I watched Stone's documentary out of curiosity. It is good, but for me personally, not being from the states, not THAT "untold". It may have been life-changing for someone (you perhaps?) to realize that during WWII, like with all other wars, US presidents were just after the interest of their country and their economy (selling oil to both sides etc.) and the post-war world balance rather than defending freedom, justice and equality, but in fact this is what every war in human history has been like. That, however, does not make Truman, Obama, or even Bush equally cruel and psychotic mass-murderers to Stalin or Hitler, and they don't come anywhere as close to these last two when it comes to body count, if that counts for anything. We are talking tens of millions for each of these two guys!

"(I better shut up now, in case the G-men show up at my house and whisk me away for social reconditioning!)"

You being able to write that as a joke without it actually happening is what makes all the difference between Stalin's regime and the american government. Don't underestimate it.

What's worse than a world with America? One without America! Who would've stopped Stalin without America? Frightening thought isn't it.

My target was almost exclusively at the 'media', (not America and definitely NOT Americans) and its lack of objectivity in reporting. David's article highlights the problems he encounters in getting to the truth. Hence Stone's percieved personal need to deliver a narrative regarding the not so popular parts of being a super power. I did not make the documentary, it wasn't me who had either the resources or ability to make such a documentary, I said I found it useful, that's all. I made no announcement of America's guilt or innocence, however for those that think America is without fault (and I've met quite a few who believe this) I think its useful, very useful. I also did not say everyone should watch it, but if I did? Then it's my right too, as it is yours to criticise me for doing so, or am I missing something regarding the land of the free?

Why do we all appreicate Dave's work? Because of its objectivity! And when opinion is offered, its always considered.

I'm also not defending Stone, merely pointing out that the title of the subject was 'untold', in general most people do NOT know much of the Iran-Contra affair, yet Reagan is now a bastion of freedom and decency. Figure that out!

The biggest scoundrel in my opinion is Murdoch, and he was an Australian.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say, or why you're addressing this to me, to be honest. I also think the documentary is nice, that's what I said above, but it hasn't made me reevaluate how I see politics, America, Russia, WWII. It has added very interesting info in the mix and I suggest that it's perhaps more shocking for Americans and in general people constantly exposed to American propaganda regarding the motivation of the US in their rich history of... lets say "involvement" in international and national politics. This is not attacking America. But I agree with you that the American media, history books (that was Stone's motivation) and government are to blame for misinforming the people. This sort of thing happens IN EVERY COUNTRY and documentaries like Stone's sure help people get a different angle on history. I grew up in Greece. You would be amazed with the amount of BS we are told in school. The first part (thousands of years ago) is all about bragging and the later part (the last 2000 years!) is full of misinformation and bias. But perhaps due to the size of the country and international orientation of many people in Greece, one quickly realizes that almost everything he's been told at school regarding politics, international relations etc was a lie or at least a selective presentation of the truth.

A world without America... It's so hard to think of such a world that I can't do it. My original point was not to equalize Stalin with just any random leader that may be perceived as "bad" or "evil" by some. He was very special, in the worst possible way, and BoB-DoG's view that Obama or Bush are equally bad doesn't sit well with me. I'm not saying they are better persons. I'm saying they haven't inflicted as much misery on the world (and especially on their "own" people) as Stalin. The objectivity you are talking about is all too important when it comes to history, but our personal bias and experiences can often cloud our judgement. This is where discussions like this can be useful and it's amazing we can conduct it in a site about motorcycle racing.

It seems there is some sort of kill count leaderboard which I have not seen. This isn't Call of Duty guys. Or the Moto GP WC.

People can't be expected to know everything about the USSR you say, but everyone seems to know how many people Stalin killed during his rule. Its definately between 6 & 100 Million... 80 mill is a common one. (Do you know what the population of Russia was at that time? Around 100 million. So Stalin killed 4/5 of the nation? With the German invaders threatening very REAL annihilation? Check the census figures!).

So anyway, since we are so certain of that kill count, how many have died by USA forces since WW2? Do you have a figure for that? Now, how many die in uprisings/civil wars/coups orchestrated by the CIA? Do these count for the kill leaderboard?

Or how about napalm and Agent Orange, the weapons of choice in Nam/Cambodia. Have you heard of Agent Orange? Do you know that it is what some may call a chemical weapon? Thats important, because the (alleged) use of another chemical weapon (Sarin) is good enough reason to support Syrian terrorists (note that they are "rebels" in the US media) in their violent civil war. Do the insuing deaths by USA weapons count for Obama on the leaderboard?

Do you know where Iraq is? How many times has that been attacked (in one form or another) by the USA since WW2? Have a guess. How many times has Iraq invaded/attacked the USA? How many times has anyone invaded the USA?

So if its head counts for a single leader that your looking for, fine. Stalin wins. But no one spreads more misery & pain & death around the whole world like the good ol USA, or I should say its leaders. And the worst thing is, the US people dont seem to realise what their leaders are doing, or if they do, they don't care! Its just "an illegal war in Iraq", Obama is just spying on all our conversations (since this is an American site, probably this debate too) without our consent. How much more are you going to give away? Are you really free in your own country?

Did you know there were protests in Brazil very recently? The riots festered up because of a total sense of frustration at the greedy leaders of their country but ignited over a $0.10 increase in bus fares. Around the same time, the citizens of the US and the world found out that Obama and his cronies are spying on all of you. Everything you say online, or in text messages, phone convos. Its all monitored and logged. Protests? Riots? What will it take for ye to wake up?

Obama warns US graduates not to listen to people who question the Government, or him. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr5On1zRWuY&feature=share). The USA is now engaged in a desperate manhunt across the globe for a man who has exposed some of their dirty secrets. A brave hero standing up for human rights. And good luck to him. Or B.Manning, have you heard of him, and what happened to him? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=UFFkcCh-pCc&NR=1)

Did you know, that everything Hitler did, all the atrocities against various casts & races, all of it was legal. In Germany, at the time, it was legal. Bit by bit, he made it legal, and a people as ingenious as the Germans didn't notice & rallied behind him. The same thing is happening today, bit by bit. Do something Americans!

You're right the American Government is listening to our disent, but I do feel we'll get away with it, maybe they'll hunt us down and send us to 'gitmo'? However, I think they'll do absolutely nothing! I also think that had you uttered even one of word of dissent against Stalin then the secret police would have turned up and removed your toes with a pair of side cutters prior to working you to death on the road of bones.. Then they would've interogated your family, friends and people that look like you, but they would've treated them nicely, you think?

Finally, Americans can do something, they can remove GW Bush, Obama etc. by voting. The fact that the candidates are usually poor of character and that the self serving press never pressure test them for real policy on improving the planet for all is the problem. But that's not unique to America!

So how did they remove the tyrannical old despot named Stalin? Oh, he died in office after having slaughtered for 25 years. Does this excuse the current 'might is right' policies of the USA? No of cause it does not, but I know where I'd rather live.

Sorry Neuro, I did think you responding to me.

I used the sentence about Stalin, because the phrase 'useful idiot' arose after visits to the Soviet Union. Hard to talk about one thing, and not the other.

...killed in the neighbourhood of 6-8 million Jews.

Stalin killed in the neighbourhood of 60-80 million of his own citizens.

They both were monsters, and they both deserve our disdain, but Stalin killed over ten TIMES as many people. Wake up. Ignorance is no excuse.

As for comparing Bush or Obama to either Hitler OR Stalin... OR claiming that Stalin won WWII... is just the kind of silliness that would be cut from a Teletubbies script for being too insipid for even THAT show.

David, you're the best in the sport. Keep up the GREAT work.

Hitler did not just kill Jews. He also killed a million or more Gypsies, hundreds of thousands of the mentally handicapped, he killed political opponents, homosexuals, lesbians, communists, socialists, anarchists, trades unionists. He killed anyone who was regarded as an obstacle to the supremacy of the Aryan people (in itself, a fiction). Remember those victims too.

Duly noted.

He and Stalin are the worst of all time.

Along with Chairman Mao.

Still...keep up the GREAT work!

Any reference to Stalin or anyone/anything else is merely contextualising the following comment about misleading/using people....
It's a fairly safe reference that most people, historians or otherwise, will recognise. You are right, he could have picked any number of people.

This is about motorcycling, not who was the worlds worst murderer/dictator etc. There will be other sites for that where you can appropriately express a political/philosophical/historical/factual opinion.

You've recieved some of the most numerous and supportive replies as a reault of your honesty at being fallible. Which shows how rare it is. Whenever I hear you question your own journalism, David, is when I know you're trying to do your honest best. I'm a "lifetime supporter" because I believe this-you are doing your honest best for your readers. For example, your personal audio-signature testing of the Yamahas to decipher whether they are using a seamless gearbox. Nowhere else have I read this sort of MotoGP journalism.

I want to read it all, rumors, interviews, and great photography outside of the mainstream press releases and AP regurgitation. Big-time racing PR is Machiavellian, like my industry, mega-yachts. But I don't get to talk to Cal, or Vale, or Herve, or any of the others I am so fascinated and entertained by, so I'll listen to your honest best. Cheers!
Oh, and if you had some t-shirts in other than black with Repsol colors, I'd buy a stack to wear and hand out...

Thanks for all your kind comments. There is no point to this story, other than that it is something which annoys me, at times enormously. This blog entry is not related to anything in particular, nor does it have anything to do with any of the stories I have published recently, it is just an expression of my annoyance at the fake aura of intrigue with which some paddock players like to surround themselves. There is a lot of posturing and puffing out of chests, and people trading information because they think it makes them important. It is tiresome, and tedious.

Please find his "Untold History of the United States" series (2012) as it was some of the best documentary work I've ever seen in my life. Truly eye opening and sniffs out the truth vs. what we Yanks are told by our leaders. The episodes concerning 1950 - present made me irritated at our hypocrisy.

Hi David, the article reminded me to support the site and your excellent writing, I pay £2 a week to read a paper that is not half as informed or well written as yours, anyway enough of praise.

As for the smoke & mirror’s, well that always been part of the sport and if we didn’t like the glamour of it all we would all be watching a one make series that was ‘fair’ and everyone raced on ‘ability’, but no we enjoy the best of the best, riding, technical and reporting.

Have you ever thought of giving space to an anonymous blogger (mechanic, rider or low level Dorna employee) , obviously you would need to know who it was. I never follow football but their anonymous blogger amused and did genuinely give me some insight to that sport, just a thought

In my opinion you are one of the best and more accurate reporters in the paddock, alway making good stories and very interesting analisys... that's why you are the best blogger. keep your site as you always do and try not to be as others, that's why motmatters.com is the best site to visit in terms of motogp. good luck!!!

Wait, are you saying you've lied to me? ;-) Your articles and comments are much appreciated regardless of how "factual" they are. At least if you do make a mistake you own up to it. Keep up the excellent work.


I am sure there is false information given but so far as I can see you have been spot on. Been coming here to your site since 2008, and usually found out more direct information on your site about technology to insights on what has happened on the track, to what teams are planning or not planning.

The ones giving bad information have been some of us posters who are free to be rambling, emotional, idiots that are hardly useful. You have been unbiased and logical in reporting. It seems you have taken time to make sure what you report is solid. In my eyes the proof of your unbiased is in how something can be reported about a rider and both haters and fans of the rider will have equal complaints or praise. You show proof in changes done, like the genius showed when there was a question of gearboxes and how they work. Recording the sounds of the bikes going by where you could here the differences. Solid proof.

To me, and I think many people that come to this site, you are Useful, but no where near an idiot.

Life was a lot simpler when Schwantz & Co. grabbed a handful of throttle, the cables lifted flat slides and great gobs of stratified mix tumbled into combustion chambers free of pneumatic valves and injection systems sipping on fresh air.

Politics and Power..was it really any different? or as I get older, is it just I get more tolerant of the bullshit?

Nobody talks like this in the paddock and I love it..You're not on your own in being frustrated with the direction, but must stay strong..for lesser mortals sakes.

Junk the naivety..time served.

Let's get ready to RUUUMMMBLE..

David, in many journalistic endeavours, being close to the action all the time is sometimes a liability. It is the old 'can't see the wood for the trees' scenario. I always used a network of mechanics to find things out. But that is hard in a multi-lingual paddock. And even the mechanics today are probably fearful of saying too much. As you know, you have to protect your sources at all costs. Team managers are merely politicians. So, when the baloney gets you down, get out of the paddock and take a walk around the track, watch the bikes from different corners, talk to knowledgeable spectators (the ones with stop watches or other timing devices are the closest watchers). You will sometimes be surprised what you see and learn. Like who is using lots of electronics - particularly traction control, and who is not.

Then there are simple facts which many of today's English language MotoGP writers are too lazy to dig out. What is the race record for each class at a particular track? Has this years race been run in similar conditions? OK, so did the winner go faster or slower than last year (or whenever the record was set). Was he on the same brand of bike, or not? What else has changed? Did the pole record get broken, if so, by how much?

Do NOT report a record being broken by two tenths of a second at a track where the lap time is between one and a half and two minutes, as "being demolished". Leave that to MCN. "Demolished" is when a rider takes a full second off a lap record.

There are other stats. that can also help cut through the bullshit. I will illustrate this soon...

I cannot speak for the others here, but personally, I do not care two hoots about speculation as to who is going to be riding for which team next year. We are not even a third way through this season so there is plenty of water to flow under the bridge. And some teams that are here today may be gone in 2014.

How about asking the readership here for questions they would like put to some riders? For example, an interview with Ben Spies. Why did Yamaha screw him ? Why was he sent out to race on broken and damaged motorcycles - in one case it could have cost him his life. There could be a reprise here on his comments on first riding on the Bridgestone tyres. And on that point, you could dig out the comments of other Pirelli (Superbike) riders from when they first sampled MotoGP Bridgestones. Johnny Rea comes to mind, and also Damian Cudlin (Motogi 2011, subbing on Pramac Ducati). Actually, Cudlin may prove interesting to talk to about tyres as he has raced on Pirelli, Dunlop, Michelin and the MotoGP Bridgestones and I think he is currently on Michelin.

Anyone else here got some ideas on stories that you would find interesting?

C'mon, don't be shy.

Where are Morbidelli, RedDawg, Oscar and others who were so frequently posting here?

Interesting story ideas, but (and I think David will attest to this) getting the straight dope from a rider is about as likely as getting Rossi back on the Ducati. They're the first ones to get fired for opening their mouths, and a pro racer knows that the slightest bit of criticism of the former team can destroy the confidence of the current team.

I remember trying to interview a racer a few years back after a race where it was clear that his bike was outgunned, horsepower-wise. He was several mph slower along the banking at Fontana. When I asked him about it post-race, he played dumb, like he didn't know what I was talking about. He was quite afraid of losing his job and/or the backing of his crew or the sponsors. I've had interviews when I've asked a racer a question, he lied, and we both laughed our asses off because I knew he was lying and had no choice but to lie, and he knew that I was going to print his lie, identify it as a lie, and he was actually going to score points with his supporters for knowing how to play the game. Honda, I am told, was famous for blaming "electronics" for engine failures where you could see the conrods hanging out of the shattered cases.

It's the game. I get DE's point; it can be tedious, and sometimes it's hard to just 'make the best' of it.

Motojournalism (or any journalism) is the art of reading between the lines of what people say, mining the data, and forging your story from an amalgam of that information. In the end, the only data you really can trust comes from the stopwatch. It's not easy.

It's well-done here. That's why I'm a site supporter.

Don't require corroboration morbidelli17 - if you can see one motorcycle come down a straight, pass another easily (with little or no slip-streaming), report that. Why ask the rider - unless you doubt your own eyes? Same thing when you see one motorcycle virtually go backwards on the straights. But it is not generally on the straights were races are run.

Sure riders can be tight-lipped. I recall Rainey letting slip at the start of 1993 that the YZR500 was not so good in testing - a little slip that when pounced on became a masterful piece of pro-Yamaha rah-rah. The slip was him suggesting he might be better off if he dug out his 1991 title winner (which was the chassis design Yamaha gave blueprints of to ROC and Harris). He covered that by going on about how you cannot go backwards and that you must always push on with the new technology.

However, the fact was that the next day he left a pre-season test a day early telling the team "call me when you have fixed this piece of..."

Digging around with the mechanics turned up that nugget, and as we saw that year, the YZR500 was NOT a very good handling bike.

But back then, a great number of the English language reporters were also writing PR for the tobacco companies, so that bit of info was not generally known around Europe...

And so we encourage David to keep looking and keep his bullshit sensor clean...

Transportation expenses, start money and prize money??????

Copied from your article of Monday, June 10, 2013
"Having only 24 riders on the grid also meant a cost saving for Dorna, who still pay out sizable sums to the teams in the form of transportation expenses, start money and prize money."

Could you PLEASE (or anyone else who may know) explain, in depth, the pay out system that Dorna uses to pay the MotoGP teams. This is a subject that seems to be completely missing from the worldwide coverage that MotoGP receives in various blogs, web sites and print or on-line magazines.

I would think this is a subject that would be of huge interest to the many serious racing fans, but is one that I have never seen discussed. I would like to know (in real numbers, U.S. dollars or Euros) what the rewards are for the teams that are racing. I realize that with some teams the rider needs to bring money, or sponsorship, to the table.

What exactly is the MotoGP pay out system?

Does the winner’s team receive more prize money than second or third place?
How is start money calculated for individual teams (is it equal?).
Are transportation expenses paid out the same for all teams? etc., etc.

I don't understand why this subject has not been addressed (is this info that is being suppressed by Dorna?). Myself, and many others most likely, would really appreciate a well written article on this subject.

Mr. Emmett,

I think I speak for more than a few of your readers when I say that I greatly appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Your article about recording practice sessions to determine who was running a seamless gearbox (not the recent one, the first one a few years ago) was what first turned me on to your blog. I was wildly impressed with the commitment to fact finding and I've not been disappointed so far.

I love your articles and knowing that you're striving to wade through the BS of any sport and deliver excellent content that's more than a rehash of a PR bulletin is great comfort. Keep up the good work!


...more to the string of appreciation.

I simply love the site, his editor's cut, the topics covered and the attitude.
Add that most comments (spare the usual Rossi/Stoner argument) are insightful and bring even more value. And the British wit that I found fascinating for a dutchman ... well unitl recently I understood more about you.

In my humble opinion the best pubblication on MotoGP. Period.

Surely a rider will give you biased information not only because of corporate directives but also because I believe they live in a distorted world. It would be true if you ask any company employee, even more for an executive. Perception is reality and when you compete at those level I believe you bend the truth even more.

I know where you are coming from David, I was a part of auto journalism in its Nascent stages in India, hang in there man. Know that you have no parallel in GP Coverage and I rate you far higher than even the talented Mr Oxley, given that your insights and opinions seem more perceptive and the fact that you do bother to get all sides of a story and present it neutrally or with the right bias. You walk the road less taken,hold your head high. Happy New Year mate!

P.S.:For David and all those who want to read the excellent book mentioned by Meguro.