AS I SEE IT - 4/06/2002
After a pause of a few months, the mainstream media trashing of professional
wrestling resumed last week, with Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly's Thursday night
special "The Corruption of the American Child".
There is some history with those of us active in Wrestling Fans Against Censorship and Bill O'Reilly, who unfortunately proved himself to be something other the champion against hypocrisy that he claims to be.
A number of Wrestling Fans Against Censorship members had sent e-mails over the last three months asking that Bill O'Reilly take on L. Brent Bozell, since O'Reilly claims on his Fox News Channel "O'Reilly Factor" show to want to expose those of public life who represent themselves as something they aren't.
Those sending the e-mails wanted Mr. O'Reilly to investigate L. Brent Bozell's two year campaign against professional wrestling through libel, slander, defamation and deliberate distortion of facts regarding the programming of WWF Entertainment, Inc. and regarding the companies advertising on their programming (to an extent that civil action has been filed against the Parents Television Council, several of its officers and other individuals); and to to investigate Bozell's connections to Unification Church related political organizations.
Did that happen?
Instead... on Thursday night, Bill O'Reilly aired a special on the FOX network called "The Corruption of the American Child".
It was easy to get an idea of what was to happen when... during a promo for the special on Good Morning America earlier that day, he said "there's only one side to this story".
So much for all those FOX News Channel claims of being "fair and balanced".
The show's tone sounded as if it had been written by the PTC or the American Family Association; blaming everyone from Insane Clown Posse, Roc-A-Fella Records, and Def Jam Records from the rap world... Marilyn Manson from what O'Reilly refers to as "shock rock"...so-called "shock jocks" Opie and Anthony...the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti....and Linda McMahon, representing WWFE, Inc. and professional wrestling.
The show's essential thrust was that these forms of entertainment are all to blame for the so-called "corruption of the American child". It also indicated that these "corrupting influences" have to somehow be dealt with, to make up for those parents who "aren't strong enough" to do it themselves; a mentality taken right out of a Parents Television Council press release.
O'Reilly went for the easy bashing of pop culture that media seems to love to do, figuring sensationalism sells... rather than actually investigating the facts surrounding potentially controversial situations, especially the PTC-WWFE situation.
Not that "cultural wars" are new, mind you.
Anyone remember when the Beatles were going to lead us to perdition, as opposed to consisting of two of the best songwriters of the 20th century who created some of the most creative music ever? Remember some people insisting that Peter, Paul and Mary's "Puff The Magic Dragon" was a song encouraging youth to smoke pot, instead of a song about childhood and innocence? Remember how playing metal songs backwards gives you secret messages (which some people still believe)?
Time after time, it's proven that those who are afraid of popular culture and entertainment...and yes, that even includes professional wrestling...are willing to distort, lie, and deny the truth in order to defend what they see as a cultural status-quo that must be defended at any cost.
Even about professional wrestling.
O'Reilly is apparently one of those who are willing to lie, distort and deny. For example, O'Reilly now uses the same questionable statistical techniques that L. Brent Bozell does. A member of a1wrestling.com's regular discussion forum sent me the following tidbit on O'Reilly's "fuzzy math" along this line.
It seems that on a recent show O'Reilly did about the internet and the corruption of society, O'Reilly quoted a "study" that claimed that the average age of children looking at porn on the internet was 5 years old.
Now think about this... Imagine a five year old being able to use the internet at all.
Even more beyond reason...imagine that if five is the average, then that means that this study is saying two, three, and four year olds are on the Internet seeking pornography as well to make up this "average".
I can't think that any rational person on earth actually believes that.
Along with being willing to do anything to further ideological ends, it's also notable that some of these self-appointed cultural critics within mainstream media are willing to cash the checks of those they criticize at the very same time they criticize them.
Tony Lewis, co-founder of Wrestling Fans Against Censorship, pointed out to me last week that O'Reilly "...continues to cash the checks of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (not unlike Mr. Phil Mushnick, of the New York Post, also a News Corporation property), whose FOX Network was built on such "edgy" programming. Don't forget about the movie production arm of News Corp, 20th Century Fox. Fox has, no doubt, produced some of the movies that Mr. O'Reilly believes has contributed to the 'Corruption Of The American Child'".
For those who would like to state their feelings to Mr. O'Reilly about his special, you can let him know what you think by e-mailing him at email@example.com.
By the way, let me interject a point...about the odd position of defending those who are attacking you on other fronts.
Even with the recent WWFE attacks on wrestling newsletters and websites (which presumably includes PWBTS.com and/or the other websites you may be reading the column on), I haven't changed my feelings one bit about what the PTC and those who would seem to be doing their work for them and a far wider scale.
The fact of the matter is that the Parents Television Council is using any tactics they can including outright lying to put forth its cause and to raise money for its operations.
Vince McMahon's mistaken attitude toward online wrestling media and wrestling newsletters doesn't change that fact one bit, nor my desire to keep working against the efforts of the PTC and their allies.
As a wrestling fan, I still feel inclined to point out what I've been pointing out for over two years...that the PTC and their supporters are using any and every tactic to put forth their cause and to raise money to support their organization.
One of the most obvious examples of the arrogance of the groups is the PTC's continuing tactic of, even with the pending lawsuit against them, continuing to list on their website fourteen companies as so-called "Good Guys" who have supposedly removed advertising from WWF programming...that are, in fact airing advertising on WWFE programming.
These companies are:
Campbell Soup (Swanson Hungry-Man Dinners)
Canada Dry (Dr. Pepper and Seven Up)
Tricon Global Restaurants (KFC and Taco Bell)
M&M/Mars (M&M, Snickers, Starburst, Twix, and Uncle Ben's Rice)
U.S. Armed Forces (U.S. Army and Air National Guard)
ConAgra (Chef Boyardee and Slim Jim)
Ford Motor Company
Wrigley's (Spearmint, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit, Orbit, Big Red, and WinterFresh)
MCI Worldcom (1-800-COLLECT)
Abbott Laboratories (Selsen Blue)
ConAgra and M&M/Mars have even sponsored WWF PPVs, most recently M&M/Mars's Sour Skittles brand at this year's Wrestlemania.
Campbell Soup has also featured Booker T in the very ad used on WWFE programming for Swanson Hungry-Man Dinners. This makes the third case of advertising campaigns where "Good Guys" have partnered with WWFE. Yet the PTC persists in deliberately listing these companies as "no longer advertising on WWFE programming".
While very few companies have taken action against the PTC, it appears may well be one company that did.
The PTC issued the press release below last week, which can be found at its original location on the PTC website.
The release stated that:
"...On February 20, 2002 the Parents Television Council released a study called TVs Top Ten Best and Worst Advertisers. In that study, Procter & Gamble was named the third worst advertiser.
The PTC has since learned that the study mistakenly counted two brands as Procter & Gamble products. Clearasil products, which were formerly owned by Procter & Gamble, were sold to Boots Healthcare before the study period. Procter & Gamble acquired the Clairol product line from Bristol-Myers Squibb after the study period.
Removing these two brands from the P&G list of products and revising the numbers accordingly, the PTC has determined that Procter & Gamble should not be on the list of worst advertisers.
Perhaps it's a total coincidence, but Proctor and Gamble has a reputation for vigorously defending their company's name in court. It seems odd that the PTC has just happened to make this change...with Proctor and Gamble.
Many have told me that they think the public already knows that most of the PTC's claims are outright lies, and that what we do against the PTC is no longer necessary.
That may be true, but the fact is that much of the mainstream media doesn't understand this, as they continue to cite the PTC as a credible source for information.
Nor do many companies that the PTC attempts to solicit as endorsing their efforts...often taking the PTC's statements at face value (one of the points of the WWFE-PTC lawsuit). This is the case with the attacks on professional wrestling by the PTC and their allies...and recently, the case with the campaign against the FOX show Boston Public.
Proctor and Gamble seems to have been one of the few companies that have actually been willing to take on the PTC to preserve their corporate name...and who aren't buying into the PTC smear campaign against popular culture, including professional wrestling.
It's worth readers taking the time to contact the companies listed above, and ask them why they are continuing to allow the PTC to falsely cite them as supporters of their efforts.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)