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November 11, 2007

CNN owes Cena an apology

I finally watched Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling, a one-hour investigative report on CNN. Overall, I thought the piece was well done, and WWE chairman Vince McMahon, while seeming a little defensive, came across much better than he did in infamous past interviews with Armen Keteyian and Bob Costas. Perhaps the fact that his wife, Linda, was seated next to him helped McMahon keeps his emotions in check.

The big story as it relates to this show, however, has been the controversy regarding John Cena’s response to being asked if he ever took steroids and whether his quotes were taken out of context.

As a media member for over 20 years, I get tired of public figures saying something stupid or controversial and then blaming the “evil media” for being out to get them or taking their words out of context. In this instance, however, I absolutely think CNN is guilty of misrepresenting Cena’s answer.

For those who missed it, this is how Cena’s brief segment played out. There was a voiceover that said: “John Cena doesn’t like being asked if he has used steroids.” To me, that showed a bias right from the start.Then, a reporter asked the question, “Have you ever taken steroids?”

The following is what CNN aired as Cena’s response: “This is a crazy question and it’s something that’s tough to answer just because of the way society is now. The way people conceive things, because performance-enhancing drugs have got the spotlight and it’s a hot thing to talk about. I can’t tell you that I haven’t, but you’ll never be able to prove that I have.”

Sounds pretty bad, right? It reminded me of when I was editor of WCW Magazine and I asked a wrestler about steroid use. He said something along the lines of “All I’ll say is that I have never failed a drug test.”

When I heard Cena make what seemed like a not-so-veiled admission to using steroids, I couldn’t believe it. None of us really know for sure whether he has or hasn’t, but the one thing that was certain was that Cena always unequivocally denied ever using them.

In reaction to what it called biased reporting, WWE posted both the edited and unedited footage of Cena’s response on Seeing Cena’s answer in its entirety was quite revealing.

When asked if he ever took steroids, Cena’s immediate response was: “Absolutely not.” The reporter then interrupted him and said: “Even back in bodybuilding days? Football days?” That’s when Cena said, “This is a crazy question. …”

After he got to the “I can’t tell you that I haven’t” part, which I’m sure CNN saw as a smoking gun, Cena continued his thought: “Because each one of you out there has an opinion on how I carry myself, and I can take a million tests – I’ve been tested for drugs since I was 17 years old. I can take a million tests. I can pass every one of them. As soon as I pass it, there’s some guy on the other end going ‘Oh, there’s masking agents, there’s this, there’s that.’ I know the arguments because I’ve been in the situation. This is a subject that is very, very near and dear to me only because since I was a very small child I have worked my [butt] off to get to where I’m at, and it [stinks] to have to deal with people saying that I rely on a crutch. I take great pride in the fact that I have a God-given gift of above-average natural strength, and I show it off whenever I can, because to me that’s fun, that’s entertaining, it’s what I love to do.”

To me, it’s obvious that Cena was saying, “No matter what I say, you’ll have your own opinion.” That’s what Cena has said as far back as 2003, when he was asked about steroids in the book WWE Unscripted. This was his response then: “I never have tried steroids, but no matter how much I say that, nobody is gonna believe it, so I’ve given up. … People are going to have their opinions; I can’t change them.”

Being a writer and an editor, I understand that quotes often need to be condensed because people sometimes ramble and stray from the point when asked a question. As journalists, however, it is our responsibility to insure that the portion of the quote that we use accurately represents the point the subject was trying to convey.

Cena did leave himself open in the CNN segment by making one ambiguous statement, but I don’t see how a respected news organization such as CNN – or any responsible journalist, for that matter – could omit Cena’s initial response to the question, which was a clear and direct denial to having ever taken steroids.

I have always thought that Vince McMahon was overly paranoid about the media, but after a summer filled with sensationalistic reporting on the Chris Benoit story and now this, I’m starting to think he might be justified.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 1:31 PM | | Comments (38)


I don't think CNN owes Cena an apology. Having been a wrestler, a promoter, instructor, and an amateur bodybuilder, I can state that, while John Cena may pass a drug test, doesn't mean that he isn't using anything. I've seen John Cena in the past. The man does not get as big he was way back when he was "Protoype" without some kind of help. He can deny all he wants...he had help.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: As I said, the point isn't whether he has or hasn't. We might all think we know, but we don't know anything for certain. The reason CNN owes him an apology is because it misrepresented his statement.

In regards to last poster (firebird) He just made John Cenas point loud and clear no matter how many times he has proved he didnt use steroids someone will always be there to say :

"The man does not get as big he was way back when he was "Protoype" without some kind of help. He can deny all he wants...he had help."

CNN definitely owes Cena an apology for misrepresenting him

I agree with you whole heartedly, but unfortunatly this subject opens it self up to much criticism because besides all the distain for the WWE, there is also a large distain for John Cena amoungst WWE fans. Despite playing the role of a fan favorite, or "Babyface", Many WWE fans have chosen to dislike him for a variety of reasons from lenghty title reigns to his hip-hop character to his lack of in-ring skills, So now there are two groups of people you would love to see him nailed for steriods use simply because of his on-screen character neglecting to care about its affect on the WWE as a whole or John Cena the real life person who has worked hard to get where he is. CNN is an organization that is in a historic tailspin and is looking for anything to get ratings up, even if it means trying to take down an entire company, they have already lost all respect, so I guess it is really no suprise!

I know for a fact that john cena deserves an apology from you cnn becouse you do interveiws and I watched the full interveiw and then I watched the cnn interview were you were editing bites out and making sure people got to see what you wanted them to see you were backing john cena in a corner and you were being nasty to him becouse some of those questions you were asking were the same questions twice so the one that needs help and checked by the police or some body is CNN becouse they dont even know how to ask question

Firebird, I was actually thinking about his Prototype days too when he was denying taking any help. How could anyone get that way NATURALLY? If he did that without gas, congrats on your great genetics.

Still, they do owe him an apology. This was shoddy editing in an otherwise decent piece. It undermines THEIR credibility, not his.

I am a John Cena Fan. As a fan I've watched the dvds and history of this wrestler. I agree that CNN do owe cena an appolgy as they did misrepresent the statement that he made. I know that there is a possiblity the he may of taken steriods at some point in his career, I can't think of a bodybuilder, wrestler, or football player that probably didn't. But on that token I know that there is certain trainers and coaches that try very hard to get all the people they help away from that junk and to do it naturally. In the end it doesn't matter if you believe Cena or not CNN deliberatly cut his answer to the question thus misrepresenting Cena's stance on the subject. The obvious motive for this it to create headlines and to discredit both the WWE and Cena himself. If they have done this over a little matter like steriods in the wrestling it makes you think what else they have done. This one act has made me rethink how CNN represent themselves as honest reporters.

John cena is the guy who would never use steroids or anything like that and there is also a proof for it.Person using steroid give up easily in any match and get tired early. But JOHN CENA has stood against all his challenges very fairly and strongly.
Although its the duty of media to find the truth behind each and every news but its also their duty to show that truth to the whole world.
CNN owes CENA an apology for misguiding the whole world about induidual views of a GREAT WRESTLER and showing the biased interview .

Whether or not Cena actually used steroids is not the point of this (particular) article. Cena knows if he did or didn't use them and my opinion or yours is inconsequential. This is about Cena' comments being taken out of context which they clearly were.

You should post CNN's ombudsman email so people can get a hold of CNN. I'm no fan of wrestling, but that is incredibly devious on CNN's behalf.

firebird, your just the idiot John Cena is talking about.

I have conclusive proof that CNN uses steroids, or receives a boost from the US government for being its official mouthpiece. You don't get that big without help!

The people posting that Cena deserves an apology who use spelling and grammar such as "distain" (try disdain) and "amoungst" (try amongst) aren't doing Cena and McMahon any favors by defending the WWE and Cena so eloquently.

I'm still trying to make heads or tails of this gem: "being nasty to him becouse some of those questions you were asking were the same questions twice so the one that needs help and checked by the police or some body is CNN becouse they dont even know how to ask question."

The editing certainly twisted the answer away from Cena's intent. I suspect that in the future he'll just answer the question with a flat "I've never taken steroids" or "I've never failed a drug test." For that, CNN at least needs to run a correction.

But none of this changes the fact that steroid and unprescribed painkiller use are still an epidemic in pro wrestling. There's a reason most of these guys don't see their 45th birthdays and something clearly needs to be done.

Yes, today they're grown men who knew or should have known what they were doing, but that clearly wasn't the case in the formative years of many of these wrestlers' careers. How many wrestlers have admitted to using steroids post-retirement after a career of denials? The list has got to be long.

Hulk Hogan publicly denied using steroids to build bulk until he was called to testify against McMahon's doctor that prescribed the steroids to him.

Both Jake Roberts and Mick Foley have written about the prescription painkillers they used to allow them to perform night in and night out despite injuries that would debilitate an unmedicated athlete. Roberts even contends that the drugs wrestlers used in the 90s to stay ring ready led to the cocaine and crack habit that ended his WWF career.

How many Eddie Guerreros, Curt Hennigs, and Rick Rudes do we need before the authorities put the doctors illegally prescribing these medications out of business? See Kevin, I didn't have to mention Chris Benoit.

There is an argument to be made that the proper use of steroids can lead to a better, healthier life. An argument that Jose Canseco made in his book "Juiced," in which he credits steroids with turning him from a skinny teenager into the adonis he was at the peak of his pro baseball career. I'd have a lot more respect for a wrestler that makes this argument than the one who simply makes the blanket statements "I've never failed a drug test" or "the injuries I get in the ring are 100% real" when asked if wrestling is real or fake. And don't take that as me saying I think Cena used steroids. I don't know and until proven otherwise I will take his word.

But with the WWE's new drug testing program doling out so many suspensions it's clear that a lot of wrestlers are still using.

If you think that John cena's never done steroids, I have some good ocean front property in Arizona I 'll sell you.I am a big fan of wrestling, and I do say if these guys were not on the juice they couldnt perform on the level they do,the human body is only capable of taking so much abuse,and recovering naturally,I have heard all the bogus genetics ,point blank you don't get the size and strength these guys have naturally,question is do you want to see this go away and are we any better of than other country,s were roids are legal.

I haven't actually watched wrestling, ever, but I googled Cena and I can tell you this, I know a guy who's thicker and more cut than Cena who's only supplement comes covered in feathers and clucks. That person is me. So, to sit there and type some illogical and ignorant theory that Cena's too big to have naturally achieved the condition he's in is just childish and exposes a jealousy bias. He's not a small guy, but he's nothing exceptional in most gyms, besides Bally anyway.

"...but I don’t see how a respected news organization such as CNN...". When did CNN become a respected news roganization?

Whether or not the man did steroids, PED's, etc., there's not proof that he did; furthermore, CNN does owe John Cena an apology as they completely distorted what he said.

Perhaps someone had an agenda or it was selective editing...

I follow wrestling somewhat and have never been a fan of Vince McMahon, but in this instance, he's 100% right .

Posted by: Ray | November 12, 2007 2:14 PM

I know for a fact that john cena deserves an apology from you cnn becouse you do interveiws and I watched the full interveiw and then I watched the cnn interview were you were editing bites out and making sure people got to see what you wanted them to see you were backing john cena in a corner and you were being nasty to him becouse some of those questions you were asking were the same questions twice so the one that needs help and checked by the police or some body is CNN becouse they dont even know how to ask question

I am not a Cena fan. Though I am a wrestling fan, and have been for as long as I can remember. As I read these comments I wonder what hurts the industry more. Steroid abuse, or a lack of grammar, punctuation, and a willingness to learn. Who knows? I'm sure someone will have something snotty to say about my wishing people would use a period, spell check, or capitalization. Consider this: No matter how good your argument is, it doesn't amount to anything if you come off like a blithering idiot. Thus endeth the sermon.

You know, it kills me when I hear people talk about what is or isn't possible to do naturally. At 33 years old, I started working out for pretty much the first time in my life. I went from benching 140 lbs to over 300 lbs in a little less than a year. I went from a 200 lb deadlift to 450 lbs in 2 years. I couldn't even squat my own bodyweight when I started. When I was at my peak, I was squatting 450 lbs for reps. So with all due respect, until you have really eaten right and put in the time in the gym, you are not in a position to comment. I did all this while working full time and was totally natural. Imagine what I could have done if this was my job or I had started when I was 17? Don't knock a guy because he has the genetics and dedication you lack. That's just weak -- both morally and ethically.

Cena was misquoted - an apology is owed. Now, on to the real issue: the industry's stance on steroids. WWE recently said that a dozen (unnamed) stars would be penalized for failing the drug tests - but the penalty was a 30 day vacation from performing in the ring! If my job was that demanding - I wouldn't exactly view thirty injury-free days as a penalty. Booker T was one of the folks who tested positive - and when WWE announced that continued drug use would cause increased penalties.....Booker T suddenly appeared in TNA! I guess what I'm saying is that as long as good positions in the ring for good pay are given to people who could not pass the drug tests......there will be no real incentive to stop taking steroids.

I agree with the writer on this . A company like cnn should be above reproach and when they do something this petty then it makes the public wonder what else have they skewed to make cnn's point and not the facts so we can make up our own minds

I'd like to believe that CNN is impartial, but I guess I'm incorrect. Seeing how WCW was WWE's main rival back in the 90's and owned by Time Warner Inc, who also owns Sports Illustrated (they printed articles about WWE superstars who ordered drugs) and CNN, it's apparent that there is a grudge by Time Warner against WWE.

Honest reporters are an endangered species.

There are freaks of nature out there. There are guys in the NBA who are seven feet tall. They didn't get that way by taking steroids. To be sure, lots are doping but not all.

quoted from previous post....
"Person using steroid give up easily in any match and get tired early. But JOHN CENA has stood against all his challenges very fairly and strongly. "

LOL LOL "give up easily in any match"?? You are assuming this stuff is un-scripted?? HAHAHA "stood against all his challenges fairly and strongly" HAHAHA again, boy i thought anyone with the capacity to post a comment would understand that the "firm and strong" are all written in to the Monday Night Flaw, or oh sorry, Monday Night RAW to keep Cena the cash cow focal point of the "sport", or uh "soap opera". Doesnt everyone understand the farce of all this? Who cares if some trash talking goon shoots up for a scripted muscle show. Would anyone get their pants in a bind if Bo Brady took high doses of ginko biloba to help him remember his lines on Days of our lives?? Whether CNN is right or wrong they are only spotlighting WWE further and making it more popular than it already is. It's turned enough pre-teen kids into "jump off all furniture and talk trash" clones already.

First of all no doubt does CNN owe John Cena an apology, but they also owe their fans an apology for not reporting the news as it exists in its honest form. As for pro-wrestling, let us not forget that it is entertainment and not an actual sport. If we were going to test all entertainment industries, lets start with musicians such as Brittany Spears (I use musician loosley), Snoop Dogg, and hmm maybe Willie Nelson. The entertainment industry as a whole has lost many people too. As a last note, can I bring up the question of why Mr. Olympia contestants haven't been subjected to tests? I think we can all agree that they are users, juicers, or this stupid term I have heard lately gasing (18 years of fitness training I have never heard of being on the gas). They too had a contestant about 2 years ago that he and his wife brutally killed his female assistant that he had been having an affair with, then tried to burn the body in a car, and then tried to slip out of the area and evade police. Anyway thats my thoughts.

Jeff complained about people's spelling on these comments then spelled 'because' as 'becouse' twice !!!

All of a sudden everybody is judge, jury & executioner. If you don't like John Cena, then keep your trap shut. I am a huge John Cena fan and I believe him. He is an honest, upstanding and a decent young man.

people who say that cena couldnt get to his size without steroids are lazy excuse makers. Keep tearing people down because your fat and out of shape.

This whole thing sounds exactly like people who complain about cheating in online videogames. "Oh, there's NO WAY you could have known I was around that corner, you must be cheating!" "There's NO WAY you could shoot rockets that accurately, you must be cheating!" No; I've just played this level about a thousand times, and I have a pretty good idea of where people are going to be hiding.

On the other hand, it seems more and more common in American society to assume that hard work and discipline aren't meaningful. Everyone assumes that we all start out perfectly equal in every way, and that if you have an apparent advantage, well, it's because you cheated or took pills or bribed someone or did SOMETHING. It just can't be possible that you're better than me! My teacher and my mommy and Sesame Street taught me that everyone is just as good as everyone else!

CNN definately owes not only Cena but their audience an apology. Using remarks out of context and editing someones response to skew their answers to a question is irresponsible reporting bordering on lible.

Look at how he was when he was body-building. Sure the guy was ripped to the max but I believe it was all natural. But as Cena actually said in this interview, he can't change anyone's opinions and that's obvious by these replies. There are loads of people claiming that Cena's taken the 'roids, but till you can prove it, you're just as bad as the guys at CNN who took his own words and twisted them and chopped them until it was pretty much slander.

I'm a former member of the news community. I was a local newspaper writer for four years before being burnt out by the industry. But one thing I always took as absolutely seriously as possible was being fair and truthful. In my eyes, what CNN did was libelous and slanderous in that they intentionally cut his answer to make the average viewer think he was evading the question and hinting that he was guilty of taking illegal steroids at some point in his career. To leave out his immediate "absolutely not" response is sickening and would give Cena the right to sue in his own defense. I don't care if he's used. I don't care if he lied. What he said and the message he was trying to get across are what CNN, as a news reporting agency, are required to show the public. Instead, they heard what he said and decided to prove him right: It doesn't matter what he says, they won't take his answers seriously.

The fact of the matter is this: CNN purposely misquoted John Cena, to make their own point and show their agenda. It was a five minute interview, and the entire thing is on for all to see. You do NOT mash up someone's words that horribly, and still call yourself a "respected news source". Not only should CNN fully apologize for their ridiculous chop job on his words, AND the FCC should fully investigate this as slanderous and bring heavy fines on the station.

The subject in question that most of the people on this blog are failing to see is not whether John Cena has used steroids before or not, but that he was misrepresented. I have watched both the edited and unedited version of the interview and the fact that the interview was over 45 minutes long originally, and CNN only aired less than 10 minutes of the interview is very unprofessional. Not only that, but it didn't give the viewers a chance to hear John's entire side of the story. Even though he never came out and said whether he used steriods or not, he definitely justified both possibilities. A-if he has used steriods whether it be in the past or present, that doesn't make it right for every one else to go out and do it. B- If he hasn't used steriods whether it be in the past or present, what gives you, the viewers, the right to say that there is no way he can naturally achieve what he has. For this reason, CNN definitely owes John an apology because they have not only jeopardized WWE's fan's faith in them and their wrestlers, but more importantly and what CNN should be worried about, is the fact that they have jeopardized the faith that viewers have in CNN.

I thank the way cnn did to john cina was the most evil thing I;ve heard from any news company ever, They omit what they did and get back to printing the news the way they have for years, and they should fired the person cut the interview and all them that was involed.

John Cena is a great wrestler, even all of the fights are scripts, but it is very interesting to watch his performance. There are also guys taking roids in sports like sprint, but in bodybuilding, it is very essential to take roids to build those huge muscles. For proof just go to google images and search for both "natural bodybuilders" and "pro bodybuilders"

Actually, this is just an angle for CNN founder and ex-WCW owner Ted Turner to come out and wrestle Vince at the next Wrestlemania...I can see it now:
Vince: "You mess with my boys you mess with me!"
Ted: "I've never forgiven you for winning the Monday night war- time to settle it!"
Vince: "We will settle it in...Hell in the Cell!"

It wouldn't be pretty, but the PPV buys might not be, maybe not.

Clever editing on the part of CNN. They can claim most of the interview is there (and if you can read lips during the first part of the voice over you can have the whole interview). They're lame. Should've just given the whole thing straight up and nothing tricky.



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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
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