All of you hardcore CNN fans out there, I have some sad news for you – CNN is fake. It’s scripted. The outcomes of their stories have been predetermined.
I know this is probably hard for you to believe. Your natural instinct will be to dismiss these claims. Trust me, I can relate. When I was a young child, I was a huge wrestling fan and I remember that my parents would scoff and tell me that wrestling was fake. I argued with them vehemently.
How could Hulk Hogan lifting Andre the Giant over his head be fake? Was I to believe that a boot to the face followed up by a legdrop wasn’t enough to keep a grown man down for a three count? I mean, Hulk Hogan was in Rocky III for goodness sake and he sure seemed to be legitimately roughing up the Italian Stallion with actual wrestling moves. And, I don’t even need to mention No Holds Barred, a movie that was so real, the tensions on set leaked over into the wrestling ring and Hulk Hogan actually ended up wrestling a match against his costar, Tommy “Zeus” Lister.
But eventually, I learned to accept the stone cold truth – the outcomes of wrestling matches are predetermined. The two grapplers in the ring are following a script and, if everything goes right, at the end of a match, neither one of them will actually be hurt. In time, you will learn to accept the fact that CNN is fake as well.
Ironically, it is professional wrestling that helped to prove just how fake CNN actually is. Capitalizing on the national attention given to Chris Benoit’s death and Congress’ probing into the WWE’s wellness program, CNN recently aired a special called Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling (which, as you can tell by the title, totally was not a piece of sensationalistic garbage). As part of the program, they interviewed John Cena, a popular wrestler who is a former WWE Champion, and asked him, point blank, if he had ever used steroids.
Cena’s immediate reply was, “Absolutely not.” He then followed that up with a three minute answer about the steroid problem in wrestling. CNN removed the “Absolutely not” response and took part of his three minute answer out of context, so that when he was asked the steroid question, his edited response was: “People conceive things because performance enhancing drugs have got the spotlight. It’s a hot thing to talk about. I can’t tell you that I haven’t, but you’ll never be able to prove that I have.”
WWE was of course pissed and they released the unedited footage from the interview on their website, which sheds some light on the comment CNN took out of context. I’ve watched it and it seems like Cena misspoke and meant to say “I can tell you that I haven’t …” The rest of his three minute response talks about how all athletes are put under a microscope these days and that anyone who excels at any sport will be accused of using steroids.
His immediate follow up to the “I can’t tell you that I haven’t, but you’ll never be able to prove that I have” comment was: “I can take a million tests; I can pass every one of them. As soon as I pass it, there’s some other guy on the other end saying, ‘Oh, there’s masking agents, there’s this, there’s that.’ I know the arguments because I’ve been in the situation.”
Once WWE released the unedited footage on their website, CNN immediately backtracked and added additional footage from Cena’s response to subsequent airings of their Death Grip special. Which, much like when a newspaper prints a retraction, won’t get nearly as much attention as the original airing of the CNN special did and most people who watched the original airing will probably go on believing that John Cena uses steroids.
If this wasn’t a special about professional wrestling, the fact that CNN got caught editing footage would probably be a national story. CNN is generally considered to be a trustworthy news source, so hard evidence that they intentionally doctor interviews to tailor stories in whichever way suits them seems like the kind of story that CNN’s competitors would have a field day with. But, since the victim in this story is a professional wrestler, the story hasn’t really made its way into the news cycle.
The sad part is, an alarming number of professional wrestlers do die at a young age and it is something that should be looked into. But, it should be looked at objectively. It seems CNN took the easy way out – already knowing the story they wanted to tell before the cameras began rolling and perfectly willing to edit footage in a way that best suits their predetermined story.
Vince McMahon has a fetish for large muscular men (after all, he once tried to start his own bodybuilding league – a project that tanked harder than the XFL). While wrestlers in the 70s and 80s were often flabby, in recent years McMahon and company have increasingly began hiring performers who look muscular over performers who actually have in-ring talent (performers like Chris Jericho and Mick Foley being exceptions to the rule). So, of course, many guys looking to make their way into the WWE were willing to inject steroids to get their big break and it seems like McMahon turned a blind eye to the drug use.
However, despite his on-screen persona, it does seem like Vince McMahon legitimately cares about his performers and I truly believe that the deaths of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit weighed heavily on his heart. When Guerrero died, McMahon instituted a wellness program to test his performers for steroids and other drugs. After Benoit’s murder/suicide and the public scrutiny that followed, McMahon revamped and strengthened the program. In addition to a 30-day suspension, WWE now releases the names of any wrestler who has a positive drug test. They have also released several performers who have tested positive more than once, including Booker T and Chris Masters (the latter being the poster boy for Vince McMahon’s muscle fetish).
McMahon can be a stubborn son of a bitch (his refusal to fix the problems with his current TV programs despite poor ratings and his refusal to let ECW, a brand Paul Heyman created that Vince bought out, be what it used to be, instead turning it into a watered-down copy of every other WWE show being two shining examples), but it certainly seems like he really is trying to clean up his act. I believe the Wellness Program is legit and that the WWE will slowly weed out the problem performers.
The problem is, once these wrestlers get fired by the WWE, they will either go to TNA or the independent wrestling circuit. TNA, WWE’s biggest competitor, has already hired a number of wrestlers that WWE has fired for wellness issues, including Booker T and Kurt Angle. An alarming number of wrestlers do die at a young age every year, but the majority of them aren’t working for the WWE at the time of their deaths.
So, while everyone is quick to vilify Vince McMahon, they are missing the bigger picture. McMahon and company have even gone as far as to send a letter to every former WWE employee offering to foot the bill if the former employee would like to check into rehab – a story which has gone widely unreported by the media.
But again, wrestling is an easy target and it’s much easier to get a bunch of bitter, ex-WWE employees like Chyna and Marc Mero to bash the WWE on your “news” program and to take John Cena’s comments out of context than to actually do an intelligent piece about the real problem in professional wrestling. Wrestlers are dying and everyone has heard of the WWE, so why not blame them for everything instead of actually being a responsible journalist?
For all of you non-wrestling fans out there (who probably stopped reading this column after the second paragraph), I don’t expect you to care about this story. I know that professional wrestling is looked at as a “male soap opera” and that you look down on me for being a fan. I don’t consider wrestling to be high art; it’s simply a fun distraction to help me get through the work week, no different than any of the crappy reality shows or trashy primetime dramas that you watch. I don’t expect you to care that wrestlers are dying or that the media isn’t properly covering this story.
What you should care about though is that even CNN, a network that most people trust to be fair and unbiased, was willing to edit footage to suit their agenda. Don’t be naïve and think that this is the first time they’ve done something like this. Who knows what other stories they’ve twisted and what other interview subjects have been made to look like a fool. John Cena was lucky enough to have WWE.com release the undoctored footage – not everyone is so lucky.
So continue to watch CNN if you want. But, just realize that much like Monday Night Raw, the program you look down on me for watching, everything you see on CNN is just as fake. As for me, I’m going to continue to watch wrestling. And, I’m going to continue to get my news from The Daily Show. Sure, all of the news on Jon Stewart’s program is scripted, but at least he’s up front about it.
Random Thought of the Week:
Does Milo Ventimiglia sign a Matthew McConaughey-style contract demanding that he be shirtless in every single episode of Heroes? Having his shirt burst into flames after Veronica Mars electrocuted him was the most unrealistic thing on Heroes this season since Claire and West’s love story.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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