Pro Wrestling and the Media: More Alike than You Think

While Americans were celebrating the 4th of July, CNN was threatening a private citizen for creating the “CNN vs. President Trump” wrestling meme.  By the 5th of July, #CNNBlackmail was trending on Twitter.  In light of this, and as a major fan of pro wrestling, I thought I’d address the vast similarities between wrestling and the media.

Even as a long-time follower of pro wrestling, it’s difficult to offer an all-encompassing definition but basically, it involves a combination of athleticism, acrobatics, acting, and spectacle. It’s been described as a “performing art”. Despite its similarities to boxing and mixed martial arts (i.e. UFC) it isn’t classified as a sport due to the fact that the outcomes are predetermined (though I have seen ESPN actually cover it). Las Vegas doesn’t take bets on pro wrestling matches.

The common misconception about pro wrestling is that it is entirely fake. While it is true that wrestlers live by a code of professionalism that requires they never deliberately injure another wrestler, the demands of this particular performing art are grueling on the human body. Much of the violence is very real. Punches may be pulled but there is no way to fake hitting a guy with a steel chair.

Today, there is only one major wrestling company: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). In order to make dealings with state athletic commissions easier, WWE admitted long ago that the outcomes of wrestling matches are predetermined. Nevertheless, that admission has not driven away fans. The WWE is a major publicly traded corporation. It has millions of fans and it’s major event of the year, Wrestlemania, always draws hundreds of thousands of fans. Why? The answer is easy. People watch pro wrestling for the same reasons they watch movies and television shows. Even if you know it’s not real on a conscious level, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t suspend belief…albeit briefly. If entertainment is done properly, you forget that it is scripted. You can become emotionally involved in the story being told. Wrestling has always relied on telling the story of good versus evil under the guise of conflict. You have ‘good guy’ wrestlers and ‘bad guy’ wrestlers.

Wrestling actually bears some similarities to other forms of entertainment. The participants are pursuing a dream of ‘making it big.’ Matches may be scripted but it isn’t something devoid of competition. If a wrestler has the right mix of talent and charisma he/she can make it to the top. I remember sitting in an arena where a young rookie wrestler named Rocky Maivia was being unmercifully jeered and laughed at as an utter joke. Today, that man is known as The Rock, a major motion picture star. His career started inauspiciously, but The Rock eventually won over the fans through his creativity and charisma. People pursue wrestling careers because there is always a chance they will find fame and fortune.

Aren’t politics part spectacle as well? Doesn’t charisma outweigh most other traits when it comes to winning elections? Doesn’t it all come down to ‘good’ versus ‘evil?’ Politics often takes its cue from entertainment. Candidates often market themselves as being the ‘good guy’ and position themselves as the righteous alternative to their opponent. I am often amused at political commercials. Like wrestling, they try to portray a dramatic moral narrative. A typical political tv ad (and this goes for both Republicans and Democrats) starts off in black and white, features unflattering photos of Candidate A along with commentary describing unpopular bills they voted for (if they are an incumbent or have an established voting record), any scandals they are associated with, as well as just about any negative adjectives you can imagine. The intent is to make you think ‘My goodness! That person is horrible! If they win it means utter ruin!’ Then, like the ‘Wizard of Oz’ the commercial suddenly turns to color and shows Candidate B surrounded by their family and friends. The commentary then suddenly switches to all the positive things about Candidate B. The intent is to answer your first question: ‘Who can stop Candidate A? Ah….it’s clearly Candidate B. They are like a rainbow of goodness sent to protect us from disaster.’ Then a few minutes later you will see a similar ad by Candidate A attacking Candidate B. It’s ‘good guy’ verses ‘bad guy’ but unlike pro wrestling, the stakes are much higher.

WWE broadcasts its own wrestling matches. Sports such as football, baseball, and basketball sell their broadcast rights. It’s up to the networks how to present these sports, but it’s usually the same across the board and fairly straightforward and unbiased. The reason WWE doesn’t sell rights to others to broadcast its matches is because everything has to be coordinated. Since the outcomes and desired fan response are planned ahead of time, they have a legitimate reason to control the narrative.

What is MSM news’ excuse for being biased? Why do they want to control the narrative?

Take this year’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and Falcons. Suppose the announcers suddenly began to insert negative comment after negative comment about the Patriots while delivering the play-by-play. Next they begin criticizing every play the Patriots run and start telling us that ‘it’s all over’ and or the ‘the beginning of the end’ for the Patriots every chance they get. Then imagine they start explaining how every play actually went Atlanta’s way regardless if it did or not. What happens when it eventually devolves to the point where you see one thing on tv and hear something entirely different from the announcers? You turn the volume to zero and let the plays speak for themselves.

Fortunately that didn’t happen during the Super Bowl. Given it’s the biggest sporting even in the United States each year, the broadcaster doesn’t have any incentive to want one team to triumph over the other. Millions of people tune in to watch regardless of who is playing. Obviously, everyone wants a close exciting game, but there is absolutely no logical reason to make the coverage heavily biased for or against either team. If you actually saw such a biased telecast, what would you conclude?

I would conclude that the network has more at stake than simply broadcasting the game. I would conclude they have an interest in seeing one team win and the other team lose. How else could you explain such bias? Further, how could any such bias be written off as harmless.

Should the news be any different? The coverage of the 2016 Presidential Election was absurdly biased. Why? Isn’t it a news organization’s job to tell us events that take place in an objective straightforward manner? If coverage of sports is worthy of unbiased coverage, shouldn’t a Presidential Election warrant the same? Isn’t the mark of a true profession a code of ethics? Is it ethical for the news to stop reporting events and actively campaign for a candidate? Is it ethical to trash a candidate? Do news organizations really think we are that stupid? The MSM has no moral high ground. When you violate every shred of professionalism, don’t try to hide behind the same shield that is warranted by ethical journalists.

In pro wrestling, it doesn’t matter if the ‘good guy’ is a jerk in real life and the ‘bad guy’ is a saint in real life. They are playing roles. It’s entertainment which means it really doesn’t matter who ‘wins’ or who ‘loses.’ In politics, it definitely matters that the ‘good guy’ win…are at least the lesser of two evils win. The MSM shouldn’t operate like WWE. It isn’t their job to define the ‘good guy’ and the ‘bad guy. Unlike WWE, their job isn’t to act as a promoter. If they start showing total bias towards a candidate then it’s obvious there is much more at stake than who wins the election. I have to conclude they have ulterior motives…none of which could be labeled as innocent.

If President Trump wants to tweet a video of him beating up the Fake News Network, fine. They are the ones who brought things to this level, not him. I think he knows what he is doing. After all, despite being a billionaire Trump didn’t win the election by outspending everyone–he was smarter than that. According to some estimates, the negative MSM attention devoted to him was the equivalent of $5 billion worth of advertising.

The MSM is bogus and Trump knows how to handle them.

Michael Russell

A native, of Indiana, Russell has always been interested in politics. He is a Libertarian and strong supporter of conservative causes. He has spent the last 20 years as an investment analyst. Russell and his wife Ginger have 3 children.

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