US senator urges Murdoch not to air 'NRA-500' race
A US lawmaker from Connecticut, where 20 children were massacred in December, has pleaded with Fox owner Rupert Murdoch not to air Saturday's NASCAR race sponsored by the National Rifle Association.
Senator Chris Murphy wrote to the chairman and chief executive of News Corp, which owns Fox Sports, to say the race, labeled the NRA-500, "is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre."
Murphy has been active in the effort to bring about the most significant US gun safety legislation in 20 years, after the tragedy at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School, which he referenced in his Thursday letter to Murdoch.
The senator said the race "not only brings national attention to an organization that has been the face of one side of this heated debate, it also features the live shooting of guns at the end of the race."
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) NRA 500 will be staged at the 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer), 190,000-seat Texas Motor Speedway oval in Fort Worth.
Winners of races at Texas Motor Speedway are often given a pair of revolvers and a cowboy hat before being photographed in the victory lane.
The NRA has sponsored auto races before, but Saturday will be the first time the nation's most powerful gun rights lobby will attach its name to a race in NASCAR's top series.
Sponsorship of NASCAR races and cars allows corporations or groups to reach millions of viewers, but Murphy suggested it was wrong to be "strengthening the brand of a radical organization that is currently standing in the way of meaningful progress on this issue."
He also noted in his letter that Murdoch himself is an avid supporter of gun control, citing the CEO's post on Twitter shortly after the Newtown tragedy asking when politicians will "find courage to ban automatic weapons."
Fox confirmed Friday that the race broadcast would go ahead, and the NRA was marketing the race prominently on its website.