Mosley gives a weak defence

Max Mosley, Red Bull, 2006, 270150

Max Mosley has given an interview to the Sunday Telegraph – whose F1 correspondent Kevin Garside was just about the only journalist to stick up for the FIA President following the sex scandal story in the News of the World. Mosley made his position on the matter quite clear:

I think what happens is they think ‘what can we get at him, ah yes, we can say he’s this Nazi. Is there any basis for Nazism? Not really, but we can kind of invent something and then focus on the family name.’ The whole thing was quite deliberate from that point of view because it adds to the story.

He continued to insist that the majority of people within the FIA support him, despite very few having said so in public.

For every letter I’ve had from a club president saying ‘I think you should step down’ or ‘I think you should consider your position’, I’ve had seven, slightly more than seven, who said ‘you’ve absolutely got to stay, don’t give an inch’, and ‘this is the most outrageous invasion’, and suggesting that there’s more to this than meets the eye, which of course there may be.

Mosley was dismissive of the criticism saying:

None of the heavyweights have said anything, the people who really are the opinion formers in Formula 1. There’s a few ex-drivers.

Which is simply not true. Are BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Honda not heavyweights? Is Mark Webber an ex-driver?

The Nazi angle is irrelevant

It’s becoming clear that there are two key matters that lie at the heart of the whole sordid debate.

The first is the ‘Nazi’ thing which, as I wrote in my very first post on the subject, seems like a dubious connection as it is one that British tabloids are fixated with.

If Mosley does have as many supporters as he claims to I think they’re standing by him because they don’t believe the Nazi angle.

But even if the Nazi thing isn’t true, the News of the World have given Mosley more than rope to hang himself with, and he’s grasped it with both hands.

The fall

That’s because of the second point: the President of the FIA has been revealed to be someone who gets a sexual thrill out of punishing people. Last year he levied an unprecedented fine against a team led by a man who we know Mosley does not like.

Can we honestly now say with any confidence that Mosley handed out that punishment because he thought it was the correct thing to do and not because he got a kick out of doing it?

What about when Eddie Irvine appealed against a one-race ban in 1994 and it suddenly became a three-race ban – a move that stunned many in the sport? What about Toyota’s expulsion from the World Rally Championship in 1995?

These were all controversial cases that led to severe punishments. The FIA president must be able to hand out these kinds of punishments when they are deserved. What we now know about Mosley makes it impossible to believe he can act with impartiality in these matters.

The moral argument

Mosley is trying to make the debate all about the ‘Nazi’ element and ignore the wider question of whether you can be considered a fair judge when you admit to being sexually aroused by administering punishment.

The reason he’s doing that is because the meeting on June 3rd to decide his future will surely have a lot to say about this clasue:

According to Article 27 of the Statutes of the FIA:

The World Motor Sport Council may directly impose the sanctions provided for in the International Sporting Code, and where appropriate the World Council for Automobile Mobility and Tourism may impose fines on or demand the exclusion from FIA bodies or international sporting events of licence holders, executive officers or members of ASNs or ACNs:

5) who by words, deeds or writings have inflicted moral injury and loss on the FIA, a World Council, their Members or their executive officers.

By focussing on the ‘Nazi’ part of the revelations he is trying to distract attention away from the heart of the matter – the real reason why he can’t stay in his job any more, and why every day that passes with him still in that role damages F1 even more.

NB. I’m sure you’re all as sick of this sordid story as I am – I’ve got some ‘proper’ posts on the way shortly.

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100 comments on Mosley gives a weak defence

  1. Michael Counsell said on 20th April 2008, 17:14

    To Journeyer

    1.  The Nazi thing is speculation and is mainly just the newspapers saying Nazi-style.

    2.  Maybe his wife knew no one really knows and his kids are in their 30s and can look after themselves.

    If the morality surely the road safety and motor racing safety campaigns he has lead outweighs this incident.

    At the end of the day its up to the people that elected him to decide not the general public or the media so any argument I give is irrelevant.

  2. Journeyer said on 20th April 2008, 17:15

    Fireblade, I think you’re missing the point of why Max got into trouble.  I mentioned the two points above about the Nazi connotation and the cheating/adultery angle.

    "The objective writer’s duty is to outline … all aspects of any present problem and to show all different point of views, not to impose and force a very specific point of view."

    It’s a blog.  HIS blog.  He can write what he wants to write, so long as he does not go against any law.  Also, you might have missed this entry:

    So don’t say he isn’t being objective about it.

    Keith has brought up the pertinent facts from both sides across different entries – I suggest you go through them, they’re all available here.  And he has the right of free speech to voice his opinion on the matter.  Also, this is not a news site.  If that is what you want, go to Autosport or BBC.  But this is a blog.

  3. Journeyer said on 20th April 2008, 17:24

    Thanks for the reply, Michael.

    "1.  The Nazi thing is speculation and is mainly just the newspapers saying Nazi-style."
    – Point taken.  The problem is, the general perception of people is that this is true, even if this may not be correct.  There have also been specific details in the tape that allegedly point to it, but I think the trial should give us clarity on that.

    "2.  Maybe his wife knew no one really knows and his kids are in their 30s and can look after themselves."
    – Even if his wife knew, that would still be distasteful, I think.  Just because she doesn’t stop you means it’s not wrong.  But you’re right, no one knows for sure if they knew, so I digress.

    "If the morality surely the road safety and motor racing safety campaigns he has lead outweighs this incident."
    Those campaigns are well-appreciated, but issues like this tend to be looked at in isolation, without the positive or negative influence of the other things that he did in his tenure.  Remember that he’s also had a lot of controversial moves in F1, but they don’t matter either in this scandal.

    "At the end of the day its up to the people that elected him to decide not the general public or the media so any argument I give is irrelevant."
    You’re right on the money there.  But based on the statements the different auto clubs are issuing, things don’t look good for Max right now.  It’s going to take a miracle for both Max AND motorsport to escape unscathed from this one.  Even if Max does pull it off, it might come at a great price: we could (just possibly) see the biggest motorsport civil war since FISA-FOCA in the 1980s.  I don’t want that to happen, but you never know.

  4. James Steventon said on 20th April 2008, 17:27

    It appears to me as if Max Mosley is in a state of denial, or already knows the decision of the sports governing council.
    The point that everybody is trying to make, and the one that
    Max Mosley is choosing to ignore, is the damage that this scandal is doing to Formula One’s reputation.
    In an interview last year with BBC’s Hardtalk programme, Max Mosley was very open in his criticism of McLaren over the Stepneygate affair, accusing Ron Dennis’s team of showing ‘poor judgement’.
    That may well have been the case then, but is that not the same situation now with this scandal? Marry that with the fact that Max Mosley is an elected official incharge of the F.I.A, and should show impeccable judgement at all times.
    Staying on for another eighteen months is not the answer, and I hope the F.I.A realise this for the sake of Formula One. Maybe the only real option is for the sponsors to lay down the law hard, and to threaten to withdraw all their millions in sponsorship money.
     It would seem that a sharp pain in the wallet is all these people understand, or respect. They certainly don’t respect the wishes of the fans, that is for sure. 

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th April 2008, 17:35

    Well there’s clearly a lot of heat left in this debate!

    Rohan - Half the population are into BDSM? Really? I’d like to see some stats on that…

    Marc - Isn’t being asked to stay away from events as in the case of Bahrain hurting his ability to perform as he was “hired” to do?” – I think that states the case against him quite clearly. He’s now trying to get the film banned in France – aren’t there better things for the president of the FIA to be spending his time on?

    Fireblade – where do I start?
    "anti-Max Mosley campaign" – is that the bit where I said the Nazi stuff was probably made up, or that The Times have an agenda, or somewhere else? Incidentally, as far as being objective goes, I’d like to see if any newspapers have bothered commenting on the link between the FIA’s lawsuit against the Sunday Times and the sex scandal. Because I haven’t seen any.
    "you should have printed the complete article" – Are you kidding? And get sued for copyright infringement? It’s hard to take your points about he legal aspects of the debate seriously when you’re telling me to steal other people’s content.
    "her" – erm, no. The picture at the bottom of the page should give you a clue.

    Alianora – "if he’d acted promptly to limit the damage he caused through the scandal’s publication, it is unlikely that this affair would have done more than temporarily inconvenience him."
    I’m not sure about that – I can’t imagine what he could have done to mitigate the effects of these revelations. We get a lot of scandal in F1, but this is pretty incendiary stuff.

    Michael Counsell – "I think it is morally wrong to consider someone’s sexual preferences as any criteria for suitability for a professional position"
    A very fair and challenging argument I think. If you consider it without the ‘sex’ element though, what we have here is someone who enjoys punishing people. Can you be entrusted with a position in which you have to give out severe punishments while admitting you enjoy punishing people? I think that’s quite different from, for example, discrimination on grounds of ‘sexual preference’ (e.g. heterosexuality or homosexuality).

  6. Rohan said on 20th April 2008, 18:08

    Keith, yeah that was a rough guess, but it’s pretty safe to say that much of the population are into bondage of some form or other (although maybe not to the punishment-extent that Max is).

    On a different note, I’d like to point out that while I disagree with you on this particular issue, your blog as a whole is an excellent one and certainly rivals other, more "news orientated", websites :)

  7. Rabi said on 20th April 2008, 18:12

    Keith I think what Alianora was trying to say is that if you challenge the lie with immediate effect and give a truthful (or something that makes what you did acceptable) version of events then your PR image is saved somewhat. It still takes a hit but it isn’t obliterated like what has happened now.

    Think of it this way if a driver deliberately crashes into another and when asked about it, they stay silent what would you assume happened? This situation is no different, had Max made a challenge instantly then it wouldn’t have escalated to what it is now. And had his reponse been a lie as long as he got away with it, and it’s been done before by others, the mainstream media wouldn’t have jumped all over it.

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th April 2008, 18:15

    I see what you mean Rabi. And Rohan, of course you don’t have to agree with everything I write. Just most things… :-)

  9. @ Fireblade – the best thing about blogs is that they express the opinions of those who write them. I may not always agree with what blogger writes but I love reading blogs especially because what is there is personal and not tied up by any company policy …

  10. I don’t really get this argument at all.

    In the video, Max was on the receiving end of a fair amount of punishment himself – how do you want to tie that into his professional life?

    He clearly enjoys taking as much as giving, so if you associate the giving punishment side of things to his working life then surely there must be an association there with the taking side as well?

    Just because someone enjoys something in their private life doesn’t mean he simply must look for that same enjoyment through his work – you may be right and punishing McLaren last year really did turn Max on, but you no more know that to be right than I know it to be wrong.

    For sure Max and Ron don’t get along, so Max would no doubt have found some pleasure in dishing out that particular punishment but to put it on a par with an evening spent with 5 prostitutes appears to me to be taking things a step too far.

    I still think Max should have gone as soon as this whole story emerged, but I think as time passes by and the whole sordid affair is being twisted one way and another to fit various people’s agendas (mainly the NOTW, Times etc) then I think the main focus is switching away from the actual facts and more into speculation.

    Let’s hope the Max saga dies down a bit, and we have 6 weeks or so which are filled with F1 for a change!

  11. Fireblade said on 20th April 2008, 18:32

    To Keith:You could have printed the link…but you wanted to impose a certain point of view.It is very obvious that u take the Mosley scandal very personal for whatever reason..

    and why didn’t u comment on the following:
    Filming is not legalized and this is a point which i did really miss in this forum.What i drink/eat/ religion I believe in and who I sleep with is of no one’s business.Period!

  12. Robert McKay said on 20th April 2008, 18:32

    "Let’s hope the Max saga dies down a bit, and we have 6 weeks or so which are filled with F1 for a change!"

    Oh god, wouldn’t that be nice. One can only dream.

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th April 2008, 18:45

    Fireblade I think it’s obvious to most people why I didn’t link to the Pitpass story – because I linked to the original story instead. Can you explain what value you see in linking to a secondary article when I can link to the primary one?

    I don’t know why you say I take the Mosley story ‘personal’ – it’s nothing to do with me at all, except that I’m interested in F1 and write an F1 blog so – guess what – I’m going to write about it!

    I assume based on what you’re written that you don’t think Mosley should step down. That’s fine I have no problem with anyone holding that opinion and there are plenty of people to disagree with me (see above and elsewhere). But perhaps if you explained why you think that instead of constantly having a go at me I’d be more inclined to listen to you.

    As for the filming thing – maybe it’s legal, maybe it’s not, but I suspect the court case will decide.

  14. Fireblade said on 20th April 2008, 19:29

    To Keith:
    -I would liked if you have criticized a professional act Mosley did…but u attacked a aspect of his personal life!
    -The filming is completely illegal….as I asked u before and u ignored the remark it for whatever reason:
    "So i really don’t know how would u look like getting caught with a prostitute giving u a …job and filmed and published and I am 100% that the first thing u will blame is the press and will never blame yourself…I smell double-standard fumes…"

    Can u answer the stuff?

  15. Dave Jones said on 20th April 2008, 20:18

    what I want to know is, is why is the vote to decide Mosley’s future at the FIA by secret ballot?
    Is it to protect the delegates form reprisals from the FIA or is it to protect the delegates from reprisals from their own associations?

    A secret ballot will make it far easier for Mosley and Ecclestone to manipulate the results will they not?

    Should the vote be independently verified by an independent body?

    Not that we should in any way distrust the FIA and those that govern it:-))

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