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Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Earlier this week, Chris and I were watching a CNN investigative report on the use of performance enhancing dugs in professional wrestling. I don't know why Chris wanted to watch it, since neither of us are wrestling fans, but I generally let her have her way with the TV.

The thrust of the hour-long show was that professional wrestlers use steroids and what-not (I'm shocked—shocked!—to learn of such a thing), then fly into odd fits of psychotic rage like Chris Benoit, and harm themselves or others. Or just keel over from a heart attack at 35.

Whatever. It's all Vince McMahon's fault, anyway.

In any event, one portion of the show addressed a portion to WWE superstar John Cena. When the show aired, this was the answer about the use of performance enhancing drugs that Mr. Cena was presented as giving.



When we heard this answer, I got a knowing smirk, and when I looked over at Chris, she just rolled her eyes. Obviously, Mr. Cena was evading the question—indeed, as much as admitting that he had used them, even though no one could ever prove it.

Interstingly enough, CNN wasn't the only organization that was taping that interview. The WWE taped it, too. And it's a good thing they did, too, because when you see the actual answer the Mr. Cena gave, it is nearly the exact opposite of the answer that CNN broadcast.



Looking at the two videos really brings it home to me, because I saw the original show, and I remember exactly what I was thinking, and what Chris was thinking when we saw the original show. And now I see how CNN manipulated the answer, probably to make me think pretty much exactly what I did.

And, it makes me think: If CNN can so cavalierly edit an answer in a relatively peripheral story about professional wresting, what are they doing with really important stories.

CNN, of course, has decided that Mr. Cena's demand for an apology is absurd. Is it? Watch the two videos and judge for yourself.
 
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Interesting. I had the same reaction to the first video; he confessed to using steroids without actually admitting he did. After watching the second video, I changed my mind. The passage "I can’t tell you I didn’t. ..." took on a different meaning once it was placed in context. Although it is a rather convoluted and murky answer, the "Absolutely not" did clarify it enough to know that CNN’s editing was dishonest. I wonder what their excuse for dropping the ’Absolutely not’ was.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Earlier this week, Chris and I were watching a CNN investigative report on the use of performance enhancing dugs in professional wrestling. I don’t know why Chris wanted to watch it, since neither of us are wrestling fans, but I generally let her have her way with the TV.
Just like she wondered why you wanted to watch that report on Breast Enhancement Surgery.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
thats just, despicable .... i mean wow. no hiding that one, or claiming some kind of witch hunt, its quiet plain to see how they distorted his words.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
Vince McMahon has made it standard WWE practice for years now to have HIS guys videotaping any interview any of his talent gives, especially in any topics where the media can pull stunts like that. He’s smarter than any loser in the media.

What he should do is run those clips on Monday Night Raw and embarass CNN internationally.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I am guessing that CNN will soon claim copyright violation and attempt to get this pulled from Youtube.
Reporter Says, "I’ll Never Talk To A Reporter Again!"
In October 1999 the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 was about to air a story on a man named Michael Ellis, the founder and CEO of a company that markets a controversial weight-loss pill. It was the kind of investigation that doesn’t always end well for the person on the other end of the camera, the one being interviewed. So, fearing his comments might be taken out of context and that the interview might be edited to make him look bad, before the 20/20 piece aired Ellis took the unedited transcript and video of the entire interview-which he’d recorded on his own-and put it out on the World Wide Web.

This made people at ABC News very angry. In fact, one vice-president told the New York Times, without a hit of irony, that "We don’t want other people attempting to get into and shift the journalism process."
 
Written By: Paul L
URL: http://kingdomofidiots.blogspot.com/
wow.

Enter David S. and Erb on why ’CNN was taken out of context here’ and ’FOX is worse!’
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Heh - yes, only the truth you know, from CNN.

"We distort, then let you decide."
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Or how about -

"This interveiw was fake, but accurate".
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
"The News - sanitized for your sensitive pallet."

needs work...
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
I wonder what their excuse for dropping the ’Absolutely not’ was.
"It didn’t fit the narrative."

Cena’s also an ex marine, isn’t he? Man, they could have killed two birds with that one...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Cena’s also an ex marine
Them’s fightin’ words Scott. Unless he was kicked out, he’s a ’former’ Marine.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Hey, the first one is no longer available! What gives?

 
Written By: Linus
URL: http://
My bad, Meagain... Long day at work.

"Cena is also a former Marine, isn’t he?"

Better? :)
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Hmmm, I’ll have to take the sides of Mkultra, Erb and David S et al. here somewhat.

Dislaimer: I’ve been working as a news reporter (print only) for 15+ years, though neither covering politics nor national security issues.

Yeah, the second CNN clip did present Cena as not guilty and introspective, whereas in clip #1, Cena came across as smarmy, evasive and possibly guilty.

However, I’d bet it’s more due to quick deadlines and the fact that Cena seems to love the sound and cadence of his own voice. Dude, spit it out! The more you yip-yap in front of a camera, the better chance you have of being taken out of context. Not that this excuses shoddy journalism. But I think what we may have here is simple human error rather than malfeasance.

These TV stations are under huge time constraints. Sometimes the juiciest quotes get played while the simpler truth is left on the editing floor.

Also, uttering the line about "I can’t tell you I did it" etc. was really boneheaded. Press interviews should be conducted like police interviews. Never hint at guilt. Never open up the possibility of a bigger story: "Yes, I may have done steroids."
And, it makes me think: If CNN can so cavalierly edit an answer in a relatively peripheral story about professional wresting, what are they doing with really important stories.
Yikes! So true, so true. Being vigilant is important.
 
Written By: Come on, please
URL: http://
But I think what we may have here is simple human error rather than malfeasance.
I’m not inclined to give the reporter such benefit.

The CNN clip was more than just an abbreviated look at Cena’s view on the matter. Cena made the following points:

1. He never used performance enhancing drugs.
2. The sports world has been so poisoned by people using steroids that good athletes are now suspect simply because they’re good.
3. The climate surrounding steroids is such that no matter how much Cena protests his innocence, there will be many who simply will not believe him, even though they can’t prove their charge. If Cena is tested and the tests come up negative, these same people will write this off to his using masking agents.

CNN could have edited the clip to make Cena’s answer look like:

"Absolutely not, and I’m so angry at the ones who do use performance enhancing drugs, because now no one’s going to believe that I haven’t."

The way CNN edited the tape was to portray Cena as evasive and untruthful. That level of error exceeds human fallibility.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Being vigilant is important
And in the old days, when there was only one source for interviews like this, exactly how were we to be vigilant?

And in cases where friendly parties aren’t taking a CYA video (in my opinion precisely because of crap like the first video) how are we to know they have nipped and tucked the commentary they’re presenting?

The guy’s being interviewed, they’ve probably asked him other questions, it’s probably been going on a while, they’ve probably tried to make him comfortable with the interview, they probably have not told him they’re going to hatchet job him....why would he treat it like he was on trial (heh, you can bet he will from now on).

No one expects a full hour of unedited interview to be shown, but we do have the expectation that they’re not going to screw with his answers via editing to make him appear guilty of the precise thing he went to great effort deny.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Steverino: Maybe you’re right. No idea. But I also bet that precious few at CNN know much or care much for WWF, either. It was probably just a throwaway piece for them. So much filler. All I’m saying is that I’ve been in situations where the end result has been disastrous, though the was process was benign yet misguided. But we’re all aware of CNN’s biases, and every now and then they get busted (Eason Jordan comes to mind). We know what we’re in for when we turn on the tube...unfortunately.
No one expects a full hour of unedited interview to be shown, but we do have the expectation that they’re not going to screw with his answers via editing to make him appear guilty of the precise thing he went to great effort deny.
Some reporters are liars and some just, excuse my French, suck. And others are a combination of good and decent. That’s all there is to it. Eventually, the lies and the lying liars who tell them always get discovered by the decent folks. Okay, maybe not always, but often. (Dan Rather, Jayson Blair etc). Just gotta watch and read your news defensively.


 
Written By: Come on, please
URL: http://
Yeah, the second CNN clip did present Cena as not guilty and introspective, whereas in clip #1, Cena came across as smarmy, evasive and possibly guilty.
Here is the flaw in your argument.

The second clip wasn’t from CNN. It was done as SOP for Vince, the owner of the WWE.

CNN’s only slip was the first one. If not for the WWE tape, we would never know of their deliberate editing.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
"Dude, spit it out!"
"These TV stations are under huge time constraints. Sometimes the juiciest quotes get played while the simpler truth is left on the editing floor."
"

I think ’Absolutely not’ is pithy enough. Attributing the omission of two fairly important words to time constraints is laughable. "Absolutely not" is certainly shorter than the quote used. It is not, of course, as juicy. It is rather amusing that journalists always fret about the ’chilling effect’ and subsequent loss of information to the public of government attempts to identify sources, yet do not seem to worry about the ’chilling effect’ such distortion and dishonesty by the press have on the flow of information. Who in their right mind will willingly and openly talk to the press?



"Also, uttering the line about "I can’t tell you I did it" etc. was really boneheaded."

Sure was. Imagine, he actually wanted to communicate with those ’journalists’ and give a truthful answer, and was boneheaded enough to do so without his attorney present.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"It was probably just a throwaway piece for them. So much filler."

That’s a heck of a way to describe trashing the reputations of Cena et al. Collateral damage, eh? Unavoidable and essential to the accomplishment of our mission.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
But I also bet that precious few at CNN know much or care much for WWF, either.
Which would make what they did pretty rotten, wouldn’t it? Twisting the words of someone they don’t particularly care for to put them in the worst possible light. What else do they do to people or organizations they don’t like? If anything, a reporter should take more care on a piece about a subject he doesn’t like, just to avoid such a debacle.
It was probably just a throwaway piece for them. So much filler.
Only now, we don’t know when something aired is filler and when it’s the truth.

There’s no good way to spin this one for CNN.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
The second clip wasn’t from CNN. It was done as SOP for Vince, the owner of the WWE.

CNN’s only slip was the first one. If not for the WWE tape, we would never know of their deliberate editing.
Point taken. But it still doesn’t infringe upon my original point that sometimes bad results end up from simple incompetence. I’m not sticking up for CNN. Clearly, this was crappy journalism. All I’m saying is that sometimes it isn’t always bias or intention that is the root cause. In this specific case, I have no idea.
"Also, uttering the line about "I can’t tell you I did it" etc. was really boneheaded."

Sure was. Imagine, he actually wanted to communicate with those ’journalists’ and give a truthful answer, and was boneheaded enough to do so without his attorney present.
Press interviews are a normal way of life for Cena, McMahon, et al. So they have ample access to publicists, etc., who should prep these guys on how to answer questions. Just saying Cena was a bit wordy and unfocused during the interview. That certainly doesn’t excuse CNN. Cena should ask for a correction or something.

This happens all the time with Bush and "war for oil." Only read half of Greenspan’s quote etc. Yeah, it’s maddening, but you always gotta use a few sources for your info. But we all know that. That’s why we’re posting here. Eh?
"It was probably just a throwaway piece for them. So much filler."

That’s a heck of a way to describe trashing the reputations of Cena et al. Collateral damage, eh? Unavoidable and essential to the accomplishment of our mission.
What I meant was CNN isn’t the place where one usually turns for pro wrestling news. They probably put a bunch of junior reporters on the story.

Oh, well, Barry Bonds just got indicted for steroid use today. CNN will put the A team on that one.

I just wanna be clear. I don’t give CNN or any yellow journalists a pass, but news gathering is generally a low-paying grind. And there’s a lot of bureaucracy and subsequent apathy in the ranks. Sometimes reporters really are that bad. Really. Where black becomes white and up becomes sideways simply because they do not have a clue as to what they are doing.
 
Written By: Come on, please
URL: http://
Sure looks like McMahon "TailHook-ed" them.

OK .. that give McMahon too much credit.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
There’s no good way to spin this one for CNN.
CNN can spin all they want. The web community who watches this stuff will be all over it and luckily the e-ranks are increasing. Like this place....
 
Written By: Come on, please
URL: http://
Oh, a correction. indicted for lying about steroid use:

SAN FRANCISCO - Barry Bonds was indicted Thursday for perjury and obstruction of justice, charged with lying when he told a federal grand jury that he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs.
 
Written By: Come on, please
URL: http://
Cena should ask for a correction or something.
He has, and CNN so far hasn’t done anything about that I’m aware of.

CNN’s probably hoping that no lawsuit will be filed, since journalists and newspapers are hard to get for defamation.

You have to prove that they know what they were running was a lie/misleading.

Vince’s tape gives them exactly that proof.

CNN is boned.

And neo, I’m not so sure Vince didn’t think this would happen. Maybe had Cena be a little verbose, hoping they would pull something like this... He’s no dummy.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
You are all making the mistake of thinking that CNN and the other news channel are in the business of informing the public.

They are not.

They are in the business of entertaining the public. They are actually no different than WWE, other than the fact that their employees prefer to do violence to the facts rather than to each other.

So they put on a feature about pro wrestling—which may have a bigger draw than politics in terms of guaranteed audience—that is aimed at entertaining and generating buzz (which means generating audience which means generating ratings which means generating revenue). And if you’re entertaining, the best thing is an interviewee who seems to confess to some scandalous thing. Mr. Cena admitting that sometimes he forgets to take the scooper with him when he goes out to walk the dog at midnight does not generate buzz, even though it’s a direct admission of lawbreaking (in most municipalities these days)*. Mr. Cena seeming to admit he uses steroids does generate buzz. So if Mr. Cena doesn’t seem to admit to using steroids when he’s interviewed, they’ll just cut and paste until they get the desired CGI result.

So why are you surprised/ upset when an entertainer molds his product to be more entertaining?


*Made up example
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
Kish, I really hope that’s sarcasm...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
When Bush talked about the Axis of Evil Kish, he was just being entertaining.
WMD in Iraq? Entertaining Congress. You know, they hear so many actual facts and such on a daily basis they tend to tune things out. People pay much more attention when you talk about weapons of mass destruction being in the hands of a mad man.

Just entertainment.

(Scott, yes, it is).
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
thank god
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Sorry, Scott, looker may have been sarcastic, but I wasn’t. It’s what I think is the cold (and very sorry) reality about newsmedia. And since their primary goal is entertaintment, why should they stick to facts?

Which is why I go to blogs for my main news resource, and consider the MSM (in the form of the Sunday paper for local stuff, and evening news reports two or three times a week) at best a supplement.

And it’s not just my view. Here’s a reader comment posted today to the Daily Dish:
As blogs become more legitimate as a news source, I was inclined to worry that the silly posts would diminish the impact of the news. But for some reason, on your blog (and others) the reader can distinguish the irreverent and the serious. Whereas increasingly, in the MSM, the silliness is the news.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
Un-Be-Liev-a-ble
 
Written By: Andy B
URL: http://
What part of "Absolutely Not" is too long for their story? They asked, he answered, then he elaborated. They dropped the answer - ignored it as if he didn’t even say it, took the elaboration, edited it to make him look evasive.

That is definitely changing the story. Definitely making it look like Mr. Cena would not answer the question. It’s not a matter of error - it’s a matter of bias on the part of CNN - period.

When it comes to the news - question everything - even things you agree with.
 
Written By: Teresa
URL: http://technicalities.mu.nu

 
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