AS I SEE IT - 2/02/2001
by: Bob Magee

Some of you will hopefully pardon me over the next few weeks, that while this column will certainly continue weekly... my mind is not first and foremost on it.

I'm one of the thousands who fell victim to the well-publicized bankruptcy of the Computer Learning Centers technical school chain throughout the United States. About an hour after I got done watching the Royal Rumble...I was awakened from a sound sleep at midnight, by a call from my boss that the prospective buyer of our company that we were sure would preserve CLC under new ownership had backed out due to (in)action by the US Federal Department of Education, leaving 11,000 students without a school and over 1,000 employees in 22 schools across the United States without a job, including me.

While I know my own situation will resolve itself eventually, I worry about the many students who will be affected and my fellow employees, teachers, my fellow student counselors, and administrators who are in more difficult financial situations than I am.

Keep us all in your thoughts.

To some things more related to wrestling...

As you read since it's been splashed all over the media, 13 year old Lionel Tate was found guilty of murdering six year old playmate Tiffany Eunick Thursday afternoon, in a trial used by defense attorney James Lewis and the Parents Television Council as an opportunity to put the wrestling industry in general, and the WWF in particular on trial. Tate faces a life sentence for killing Eunick.

The fact that Tate killed the 48 pound Eunick on July 28, 1999, while they were playing at Tate's home was not in dispute. Prosecutors presented a case that that Tate knew he was hurting the 48-pound girl with each blow. The jury was shown blown-up autopsy photos of Eunick's bruises, fractures and other injuries.

Defense attorney Lewis's attempt at a "wrestling defense" was an argument that the 180 pound Tate was a wrestling fan who imitated moves seen on television with no realization he could inflict damage. Lewis failed in a bid to subpoena several professional wrestlers, including Steve Borden, Terry Bollea and Duane Johnson to testify at the trial.

The Tate case is, additionally, a key part of the lawsuit by WWF Entertainment, Inc. against the PTC. In the WWF-PTC lawsuit, the WWF has claimed that L. Brent Bozell and Lewis conspired to present the
"wrestling defense" while both knowing wrestling had nothing to do with the case.

Former WCW commentator Chris Cruise, a frequent critic of the current pro wrestling product entered into a rant on a discussion this week on Lynn Doyle's "It's Your Call" on regional cable network Comcast Channel/CN8, which appears on all Comcast owned cable systems from Maryland to northern New Jersey.

Cruise attempted to blame the death in the Lionel Tate case on wrestling, while he squared off with a woman who blamed Lionel Tate, and blamed Tate's mother for not becoming involved during the murder of six year old Tiffany Eunick.

As Dave Scherer mentioned in the 1/31/2001 Daily Lariat:

"...Cruise was a WCW announcer when Terry Funk charged the ring and choked out Ric Flair by putting a plastic bag over his head, which our Buck Woodward, who was on the show, pointed out. When Buck did so, it clearly flustered Cruise and put him back on his heels. Cruise actually had to resort to name calling on Buck, which showed the depth of the weak argument he was trying to make."

Cruise has made similar criticisms of the current style of wrestling product on CN8 and elsewhere over the last two years. He has appeared on a number of television shows, critical of the more adult product style of the WWF, as well as WCW and ECW. He most recently worked as a heel manager with several small independent Carolina-based wrestling promotions. During the show, Cruise parroted a PTC line, essentially saying that "parents don't do their job well enough, so unnamed regulators should do it for them".

Doyle attempted to moderate the call-in and discussion with Cruise, local prosecuting and defense attorneys, and callers to the show.

Yet, during this conversation, and despite Doyle's best efforts, it seemed that people couldn't divorce their feelings about professional wrestling from the fact that a young man killed a much younger playmate.

Throughout the discussion, comments about the legitimacy of this form of entertainment and how well the WWF does at warning viewers about "not trying this at home", (which the WWF has done as far back as their days of promoting solely in the Northeast in the early 1980s) were mentioned as often as the facts of the Tate case, never mind the unsuitability of the so-called "wrestling defense" in legal well as the relation to the efforts of the PTC to use it to foster their own ideological agenda, a fact that seemed to fall by the wayside.

Other comments on the Tate case came from "The Rock" himself, as Duane Johnson was interviewed by Jim Varsallone of the Miami Herald, and said the following:

"That situation with the little girl dying is really sad. In that particular case, it's ironic, though, how L. Brent Bozell and the attorney [Lewis] for Lionel Tate [the boy charged with murder] worked very closely together to concoct a lot of negative issues about wrestling and the WWF.

'I think we did the right thing filing a lawsuit against these people [PTC, Bozell, attorney [Lewis], others]. The bottom line is you have the right through freedom of choice and freedom of expression. You have that right. I just don't agree with the PTC, Brent Bozell, the attorney and what they say.

I had the opportunity to go 1-on-1 with L. Brent Bozell on television. I enjoyed doing that. It's amazing how a guy of his stature and his position really didn't have his facts. That amazed me since he was the one talking so much. If freedom of expression is a drug, then L. Brent Bozell should certainly try a little. He might like it.

I was being very honest when we were on. In a backhanded way, the station kind of sprung the segment on me. I had no idea I was going to be in that segment and go 1-on-1 with L. Brent Bozell. That was fine with me. Just Bring It! I said to Brent and the PTC, `You have every right not to watch our show and certainly not a right to tell other people not to watch it. That's their right, not yours. That's their choice, not yours.' I said, `There are 22-million, passionate WWF fans out there who watch the WWF emphatically and Smell What The Rock is cooking.

L. Brent Bozell said, `Oh, now it's 22-million. I heard it was only 14-million. He said it was 14-million 30 minutes ago. It's amazing how the Republican National Convention has embraced this man The Rock.' I said, `Well, that's really not amazing. What's amazing is you really don't even have your facts. It's 14-million eligible voters and 22-million watching WWF every single week. The Nielsen ratings don't lie, but you certainly do so.' He should know better. He can't go 1-on-1 with The Great One.

The funny thing is I can name five different characters on network television who are a lot worse than The Rock. I can name 10 different shows where we're 3 Stooges compared to them. For him to single out the World Wrestling Federation -- only because of our success -- is ridiculous and very shallow.''

Speaking of Mr. Bozell, he abandoned his recent media silence last Friday, to appear with WWF lawyer Jerry McDevitt on the Mitch Albom syndicated radio program, which comes from Detroit's WJR radio and also appears on MSNBC.

"Walls of Jericho" on the PTC message board reported the discussion :

"...I was driving home from work last night, and heard 'The Mitch Albom Show' which is syndicated nationwide. I think it was Friday's show on tape, but they were talking about the Tate verdict and they had WWF lawyer Jerry McDevitt and L. Brent Bozell on as guests.

McDevitt was on earlier in the hour, and he pretty much was proclaiming it a victory for WWF. I don't know if I agree with that statement, because I thought a kid was on trial for murder not wrestling, but anyway. He also said little kids know the difference between real and pretend in wrestling, which I don't agree with, as we know there are adults who don't know the difference. But he did have some solid points about the case itself and how the mother was VERY negligent because this little girl was being beaten, and yet she said she was going to beat her up for making a lot of noise....

Then came Bozell, who made a bunch of lawyer jokes and then claimed how 'preposterous' it was to say violence on TV has no effect on kids. He responded to a caller who said it was a parent's responsibility to watch the kids by saying he agreed, but then he quickly ripped on sponsors ('getting away with bloody murder' was a quote) and producers of network shows.

He also rambled on about the good old days of shows like 'Rifleman' and 'Bonanza' saying how producers avoided blood and violence then. Albom started to say how pro wrestling is kind of like a cartoon, but Bozell wouldn't hear of it, saying how they try to make it look so real. He was only on about five minutes, so he never really got warmed up, and if you didn't know who he was you would think he's just a guy who wants TV to regulate themselves.

Maybe had he gone a little farther about what he believes in, Albom would of challenged him, but the segment was over before he could explain what the PTC was or what he wants to do...."

Former Vice Presidential candidate and PTC board member Senator Joseph Lieberman made rather flippant comments on Imus in the Morning radio show about wrestling, which were reported by Pro Wrestling Torch reader Brian Mazza:

"Senator Joe Lieberman...made quite an ironic remark regarding the WWF. Knowing his involvement with the PTC, and even seeing him on MSNBC last night talking about violence on TV, this struck me as quite odd.

Regarding the presidential loss by he and running mate Al Gore, Lieberman was reflecting on his feelings as Dick Cheney was being sworn in at the inauguration. He said that a friend had made the remark to him that he wished the inauguration was booked by the WWF, so they could act on their true emotions and 'break a chair over someone' during the swearing in. That got a laugh from everyone, including Lieberman himself. Doesn't seem like he is taking the WWF brand of 'violence' too seriously, does it?"

For someone who has been so thoroughly self-righteous about violence in professional wrestling and elsewhere within entertainment, even speculating again this week that government regulation might be needed, if parents wouldn't govern what their children would watch...that is an incredibly flippant comment.

One might even think that he sounded like a wrestling fan.

To conclude on a possibly good note regarding these matters, there is some possible good news from Bush Administration.

Brian Perrozelli notified me of George W. Bush's selection of Michael Powell to head the FCC. This may be a positive note in that Powell is reported to be firmly against both internet content regulation and getting the FCC involved in television content decisions.

More on that soon, as I'm able to find it.

Until next time...


(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at