NOVEMBER 20, 2007
Ok…I realize that technically, the title of this article doesn’t make sense on many levels. Firstly, although “CNN” is three letters long, it actually only contains 2 letters (C and N). And I also realize that it’s implausible that John Cena has either favorite or least favorite letters…and further that his two least favorite letters would be those comprising nearly half of his name.
For those of you who don’t know, John Cena is a professional wrestler under contract with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) company, and is one of their biggest stars, having appeared in both the ring as well as starring in his own action movie…prior to that, he was involved in playing football as well as bodybuilding.
If you guessed that his physique is very impressive, then you would have guessed correctly. Give yourself a gold star.
If you have further guessed that being a very popular actor and wrestler would make him a good candidate for being interviewed, then give yourself another gold star. And of course, being interviewed and possessing this physique makes him a good person to ask some steroid-related questions.
CNN obviously agrees with my observations, and recently aired an interview with Cena, where they had him in the perfect (and awkward) position to ask him about steroid use.
Likewise, because of my position with Steroid.com, I’m frequently contacted by the mass media for commentary and interviews on various events concerning anabolic steroids in the mass media. In the case of a newsworthy tragedy like the Chris Beniot murder/suicide, I’m often left trying to explain that correlation is not causation. In other words, I’m typically trying to tell the media that yes, it was tragic that Chris Benoit killed himself and his family, but that no, you can not say that steroids were the causative factor. But like I said, I don’t mind doing this-someone has to do it, and I honestly don’t mind explaining things to people who are attempting to write a genuine news story where one exists.
But in the case of the CNN/John Cena interview, I’m left questioning whether CNN is reporting the news or trying to create it.
Before I go any further, I have to admit that I’m not what you would call a fan of professional wrestling at all. I’m not saying that I dislike it per se, only that I don’t pay much attention to it. This wasn’t always the case, but the last time I watched it, I believe one of the performers (who shared my last name) often brought a snake into the ring, another performer seemed to be an Elvis impersonator, one performer was apparently also a “barber” (though he seemed to use some type of gardening shears instead of sizzors), and as I recall, yet another performer often spent a lot of time playing the bag pipes in the ring (when he wasn’t busy being otherwise rowdy).
But with professional wrestling, I always knew what I was getting. There were “good guys” and “bad guys” (the latter called “heels” in wrestling jargon).
CNN should (at least) be held to the same standard that we hold professional wrestling to – and that means, I want to know what I’m getting when I watch CNN. I thought I was getting the news…now I’m not so sure. Granted, the editors of CNN probably aren’t staging limousine explosions, but I still feel like I’ve been deceived.
That’s a bit dramatic, I guess…because I didn’t even watch the original airing of the John Cena interview on CNN…it didn’t even get on my radar until the unedited version already began appearing on the internet and the WWE had already released an official statement.
I’ve listened to both versions of the CNN interview (edited and unedited). Here is what CNN ran as Cena’s response to the “Have you ever used steroids?” question they asked him:
“This is a crazy question and it’s something that’s tough to answer just because of the way society is now. The way people conceive things, because performance-enhancing drugs have got the spotlight and 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.”
And this is the full version of what he actually said:
“Absolutely not.” [Then the CNN reporter then interrupted him and said: “Even back in bodybuilding days? Football days?” at which point, Cena continued:] “This is a crazy question and it’s something that’s tough to answer just because of the way society is now. The way people conceive things, because performance-enhancing drugs have got the spotlight and 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.”
Clearly, CNN took a very definite denial of ever using steroids from John Cena and edited it to make it seem like an ambiguous admission of using them.
World Wrestling Entertainment then issued a public statement and included both versions of Cena’s comments. At this point, to everyone who cared to read both versions, it became obvious that Cena had been willfully misrepresented by CNN. The WWE (and later CNN) also released a video feed of both versions of the interview (I saw it on YouTube personally).
The WWE has established a very good brand and business model for themselves by creating good-guys and heels, and casting them against each other. It’s a business model that I’m sure ought to be copied by other entertainment companies…I just find myself at a loss for words when I’ve found out that CNN has opted to copy it – and cast itself as the heel.