AS I SEE IT - 8/23/2000
by: Bob Magee
Welcome this week to Wrestle-Mania.co.uk, located at
http://wrestle-mania.co.uk and Pure Wrestling.com at
http://www.purewrestling.com, which are both carrying AS I SEE IT beginning this week.
Our old friend L. Brent Bozell and Bill Allen, the son of PTC Honorary Chairman Steve Allen, are just two misunderstood souls. That's what they'll tell you.
Don't believe me? Go to the Parents Television Council website.
There you will find the following letters written by the son of Steve Allen and L. Brent Bozell in an attempt to turn up the volume on their rhetoric, and brand all of you reading this column who oppose the actions of the Parents Television Council with labels that in no way resembling reality. The exchange "conveniently" appears on the PTC website at http://www.parentstv.org/Smackdown/letters/Allenletter.html.
First, Bill Allen's letter...
"Mr. Brent Bozell
Media Research Center
325 South Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
As Iím sure you know, my father continues to speak and write about the vulgarity-and-violence problems in todayís media, and Iím sure you can count on him to continue to do so.
A few problem-factors have come up, however, and it seems reasonable to communicate with you about them. Most of them relate to the World Wrestling Federation people. Obviously Vince McMahon has sent word to his supporters to rally Ďround the flag and they are doing so, chiefly by sending us a deluge of angry messages via the steveallenonline.com web-site, which I operate for my father.
To an extent that is okay. Like all public figures, my father is accustomed to criticism, but unfortunately the WWF fans are now regularly accusing him of positions which are not his, and of having control over the PTC. Iíve had to devote a full time webmaster to manage his message board (deleting literally hundreds of messages) so as not to upset our many other site visitors with the nastiness and vulgarity of the postings criticizing 'Steveís PTC positions.'
There seems to be a great deal of confusion regarding Steveís position on the WWF versus that of your own or the PTCís. Steveís position is that he personally is not trying to get professional wrestling completely removed from television. However many of his critics assert that that is, in fact, his goal as 'Honorary Chairman' of the PTC.
Some assert that he is the PTC so he is ultimately responsible for any and all of its positions and actions.
Others understand that you are the real Chair of the PTC but also quote you as saying nothing can be done to make the WWF satisfactory to your tastes and that you will continue to fight until it is completely off the air. Then they accuse Steve Allen of endorsing that position by continuing to serve as your Honorary Chair.
Though Steve is still willing to continue in that role and fight the good fight, we need to clarify the respective positions of you, Steve and the PTC itself. Please understand that Steve has some personal history with the sport in that one of his first jobs as a comedian, back in the late 1940ís, was announcing wrestling matches. Needless to say, there was absolutely no vulgarity connected with them in those days, and even the violence, which is a natural part of the sport, was very little like todayís sadistic sort.
In 1990, Steve made a guest appearance doing some comedy interviews on the 'Wrestlemania VI' show.
About two years ago he also served as narrator of a serious A&E documentary about the history of wrestling.
What all of this adds up to is that it has never been Steveís opinion that wrestling is simply unsuitable for television entertainment and ought to be forced off the air. As regards shows like 'Smackdown' here, too, his intention is not to drive them off of television, but simply to induce them to tone down the elements of such programs that are clearly offensive and vulgar. (By the way, this seems to be happening and I hope you are encouraged by that.)
Steve and I agree that campaigns such as the PTCís need victories to continue to gain momentum and credibility. It seems to me that the PTC would be well served by clearly articulating an achievable goal with respect to the WWF and then publicly celebrating victory upon attainment of that goal.
On the other hand, Brent, if you or the PTC are really trying to remove wrestling or the WWF from TV altogether, we must clarify that your goals are different from Steve Allenís as soon as possible.
I look forward to your reaction.
Well....let's examine what is written here by Mr. Allen.
First, an accusation that "...Obviously Vince McMahon has sent word to his supporters to rally Ďround the flag".
No, Mr. Allen, Vince hasn't "sent word to his supporters". Vince McMahon's company isn't like the Cold War era Soviet Union who could "send the word out" to what the new party line was. McMahon's a cold-hearted capitalist, like any businessperson. Further, I've never personally spoken with Vince McMahon. I do know several of his employees, though.
Second, Allen's son expresses a concern that Steve Allen is being held responsible for what the PTC does. If Steve Allen lends his name to such an extremist organization as the Parents Television Council, he SHOULD expect to be held responsible for the organization he acts as a public representative of in advertisements published in over 60 newspapers across the United States.
Third, there's the line: "the violence, which is a natural part of the sport, was very little like todayís sadistic sort... never violent like it was today"?
What wrestling have you read about, Mr. Allen? The phrase "red means green" (read: blading in matches as a way to draw money) came about in the 1950s, not the year 1999 or 2000. Wrestlers have been doing chairshots for years, too. Back in this supposedly wholesome era that Mr. Allen refers to, wrestling used racial stereotypes that most of the business wouldn't even think of using today (unless they're Vince Russo, that is).
Face it: even back in the late 1940s, when Allen announced the TV wrestling matches from the old Ocean Park arena in Los Angeles; professional wrestling was a violent form of entertainment. Hell, the Wrestlemania that your father served as interviewers for and was paid for by Titan Sports wasn't exactly Greco-Roman wrestling.
Any sort of revisionist history on your part about the wrestling Steve Allen was involved in is wishful thinking at best, and a outright fabrication at worst.
Fourth, there seems to be a new party line response in and around the PTC appears: say anything in defense of "the cause", whether it's truthful or not. It started when L. Brent Bozell went on the Jerry Falwell show and accused Vince McMahon of inciting "his supporters" to do such things as send computer viruses and call in bomb threats; and made the statement that "four people have died from watching Smackdown".
With comments like that, I can tell you that, if I were Vince McMahon, I'd sue L. Brent Bozell. Instead (for the moment), the WWF has used "Steven Richards" to serve as the surrogate for L. Brent Bozell with his character frequently saying he'll say or do anything in defense of "the cause".
So, in this letter, it was Bill Allen's turn to label all those who oppose the PTC and what they stand for as being associated with actions that a handful of people may or may not have committed in spamming his message board. Both PTCSucks.com and Wrestling Fans Against Censorship have CLEARLY stated that they oppose and all attempts to act in an illegal manner toward the Parents Television Council. The Parents Television Council is perfectly aware of this.
But given the PTC's record for possessing a flexible conception of the truth vis-ŗ-vis supposed "Good Guys" who, as it turns out, are willing to publicly repudiate the PTC...like Allstate Insurance, Coca-Cola, and M&M Mars...one can easily be skeptical of any such statements by either Allen or Bozell.
Now let's look at Bozell's reply to Bill Allen...one part at a time:
"Mr. Bill Allen
15201 Burbank Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91411
Thanks for your letter. I was going to call you, but decided to put my answer in writing because, should you find it helpful, Iím happy to make my answer part of the public record.
There are all sorts of things being said by some highly irresponsible folks out there that simply arenít true. You cite some things being said about your father and wrestling. I can match you, and trump you.
All over these strange internet sites there has been the rumor that Iím an employee of the Unification Church. That rumor recently evolved a bit: I am now a member of the Unification Church as well... "
Since I've been chewed out by Bozell on the Michael Reagan nationally broadcast radio program...one can assume I'm at least one of those he means.
Nice try, Brent. Now how about the truth?
From AS I SEE IT November 28, 1999, which can be found at http://pwbts.com/columns/b112899.html:
"...Your wrestling will have been 'sanitized for your protection' by a right-wing front group run by a man named L. Brent Bozell III, whose father wrote speeches for Joseph McCarthy, the United States Senator responsible for creating a generation of political cowardice and fear during the 1950s. L. Brent Bozell who worked for the Unification Church, better known to all as the 'Moonies' religious cult."
As for referring to you as an "employee of the Unification Church", let's see:
* Articles written for the Washington Times: owned by the Unification Church
* Articles written for Insight Magazine: owned by the Unification Church
I assume you cashed the checks, Mr. Bozell.
Further, you find it perfectly appropriate to have your various MRC-sponsored websites; including the Parents Television Council, Media Research Center and CNSNews.com link to these entities.
Let's see what else I've said:...
I quoted in the July 18, 2000 column from a radio interview on September 4, 1997's edition of the syndicated Jeff Baker Program, with substituting host Kelleigh Nelson interviewing Chey Simonton. Simonton has done research into the connections between the Christian Right and other conservative organizations to the Unification Church. A complete transcript of this radio interview can be found at http://www.watch.pair.com/moon.html.
In the interview, Simonson makes specific reference to Bozell:
"....Now, what people need to remember is that the American Freedom Coalition was funded with over 5 million dollars of Sun Myung Moon money. Most of the members that are listed here also belong to something that is always referred to as a 'conservative educational group promoting Judeo-Christian values' called the Council for National Policy.
Included on this Moon-funded group are Dr. Ben Armstrong of the National Religious Broadcasters Association; Rev. James Bevel who now, or was a few years ago, associated with the [Lyndon] LaRouche organization; Brent Bozell III; Dr. Joseph Churuba; Don DeFore, the actor from Hazel.... Colonel Doner who originated Christian Voice, a Moon-controlled precursor to.... it was after the Moral Majority but before the Christian Coalition, there was an organization called Christian Voice that was under the domination of Unification Church members and they had Christians going out being the public relations speakers but they were controlled and financed by Unification Church organizations....."
If one takes a look at an informational website on the Council for National Policy, located at http://www.ifas.org/cnp/index.html, you will clearly find L. Brent Bozell, in the organization's online directory listed as a member from Alexandria, VA, as the head of the Media Research Center. The CNP is an associated organization of the American Freedom Coalition.
So let's see...Mr. Bozell is a member of a group acknowledged to be a Unification Church front organization.
That's all I've said. That truth is damning enough. No one has accused Bozell of being a member of the Unification Church. Any statement that he has been accused of being such is simply not truthful. But one has to wonder why Mr. Bozell's connections to the Unification Church and its organizations are such a sore spot with him.
Here's more from Bozell's letter:
"Another rumor: that the PTC is funded by all sorts of major corporate advertisers (in fact, weíve not received nor, to my knowledge, have ever asked for a contribution from any of these major sponsors)."
Let's see.... when the PTC Marketplace was still in existence, the PTC happily used corporate America's support through it. The PTC made reference on their main page to the Marketplace through the following:
"Every time you make a purchase in our Marketplace, a percentage of the sale goes directly to the Parents Television Council".
What were a few of those major corporations that were in the PTC Marketplace? Avon, Burpee, CBS SportsLine, Dell, ESPN-the Store, FTD, Hickory Farms, Intel, JC Penney, LL Bean, McAfee, Office Max, Mattel, Toys' R Us...
Avon.com was reported by sources within the company to have provided $16,000 per year for the PTC's efforts through the PTC Marketplace program.
Sounds like corporate support to me.
The fact of the matter is this: those companies that gave money to the PTC, effectively endorsed it. No amount of spin-doctoring by Effinity.Net or the Parents Television Council can change that fact. Nor can L. Brent Bozell's publicly posted "private letters".
More from Bozell's letter:
"....Another rumor: that Iím anti-wrestling.
As Iíve stated on innumerable occasions, our campaign against 'WWF Smackdown!' has nothing to do with wrestling, period. I donít care about wrestling. Before 'Smackdown!' was launched, I think itís safe to say I never in my life had uttered a single word about wrestling. Do I "approve" of wrestling? While it isnít exactly Shakespeare, it can also be innocent, mindless entertainment, and I take a backseat to no man in my defense of innocent, mindless entertainment. I am a fool for spaghetti westerns.
I have never said, even suggested that wrestling should be banned from television. What I have said Ė and happily repeat here Ė is that Vince McMahonís ultra-violent, sleazy and thoroughly offensive brand of "wrestling" should not be on the public airwaves. Just last week I was asked by a reporter what steps could be taken to resolve this problem. I laid out several:
1. Since the WWF insists it's not targeting its programming to children, take the show out of the 8 p.m. 'family hour' and push it back to another time slot.
Why? So the PTC can attack the World Wrestling Federation when it's aired at 10:00 pm or 11:00 pm? Does anyone honestly think that changing a time slot would make any difference to the Parents Television Council?
The Smackdown show is aired at the hour it is aired because people want to watch it at that hour; because the WWF can sell advertising at that hour, because it will attract people to the live shows and PPVs of the company. They do it in the way that the free market economics that true conservatives supposedly believe in. Mr. Bozell claims that he is such a conservative (and many conservatives are upset with me with referring to him as such).
"...2. Since the WWF insists that itís not targeting its programming to children, it should stop its massive marketing of 'Smackdown!' toys to children.
Including the toys that the PTC was profiting from through its PTC Marketplace until it was pointed out by Wrestling Fans Against Censorship, PTCSucks.com, and IGN Wrestling; right, Mr. Bozell?
"3. Since the WWF insists parents should take greater responsibility in monitoring this program, it could do its part by putting up advisories during its programming indicating that this isnít suitable for children. The WWF could do many other things along those lines if it so chose."
There's something called a ratings system. The WWF uses it prominently at the beginning of its show; and in advertisements for each and every PPV. It's the system that many of Mr. Bozell's fellow cultural warriors insisted upon. But, as the expression goes: "give them an inch and they want a mile".
"4. Since the WWF insists parents should take greater responsibility in monitoring this programming it should follow its own advice and place minimum age limits of attendance at its events.
Such limits are illegal and unenforceable. The closest thing to this is the attempt by New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman to enact age limits on so-called "extreme wrestling" promotions Combat Zone Wrestling and Jersey All-Pro Wrestling in the legislation passed by the New Jersey Legislature this summer. If Whitman signs this legislation, the legislation will be challenged in court.
"5. Since WWF suggests this is only innocent wrestling, it should take out all the gratuitous, filthy language and raw sexual material. They have nothing to do with wrestling; they are there only to shock. They do to wrestling what Howard Stern has done to intelligent conversation.
6. And the WWF should tone down the ultra-violence. Wrestling isnít smashing metal chairs and tables over people, or barbed wire ropes, or explosives in the floorboards, etc., etc. Wrestling can be great athleticism. Thatís what it should be."
Like I said, chair shots aren't a invention of 1999 or 2000, no matter what Bill Allen or L. Brent Bozell say.
"Barbed wire ropes?" "Explosives in the floorboards?". Neither are used on WWF television, either. Guess Mr. Bozell must have a secret thing for FMW tapes.
"If the WWF would take these steps, they would return this venue to what it was just a couple of years ago, when Brent Bozell was quiet as a church mouse because there wasnít anything to say.
Please let me hear from you."
Vince McMahon, or for that matter, Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman aren't going to return it to that, Mr. Bozell. Not unless they want to go the way of Verne Gagne.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)