Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More Tales of Terrible Journalism...

Now with Wrestling!

You'd think what would qualify as the dumbest article ever written about professional wrestling would be found within the Intertron Wrestling Community or at the very least from a xeroxed fanzine printed in a Kentucky basement. But you'd be wrong.

The dumbest article ever written about professional wrestling was written by Darren Rovell and was published by You know,, it's the online arm of NBC's cable business-news channel CNBC. You know, CNBC, the last place you'd imagine an article about professional wrestling, let alone the dumbest article ever written about professional wrestling.

And of course, the inspiration for the dumbest article ever written about professional wrestling is the dumbest storyline ever written for professional wrestling: the Death of Vince McMahon.

It's actually the second article Rovell has written for concerning the storyline death of Vince McMahon, which is just as shocking as anything else going in this article. The first article examined the impact that the angle was having on the WWE's visibility, which is a no-brainer. Of course it is. Google searches for WWE and McMahon were up, page views were up. WWE stock values declined, but that's probably more to do with John Cena yet again retaining his title than McMahon's fake death. Also touched on was the interest that the mainstream media had about the angle. Answer: none. Shocking.

But Rovell didn't let the story die there. After receiving a response from the WWE's PR department that didn't break kayfabe, Rovell took this tack:

As you can see, WWE is clearly differentiating between Vince McMahon, the chairman and the character. I’m not a hard core wrestling fan, but do all the shareholders and fans really know the difference between the two? I would bet not.

The rest of the article is a Q&A with two people familiar with laws that regulate stock trading and public companies about the possibility that this angle could fraudulently misleading shareholders and the possible consequences thereof.

Look, I'm not gonna shit anybody here: some wrestling fans are goddamn dumb. But even Joe Sixpack knows that if Vince McMahon, noted personality and owner of a billion-dollar industry-leading organization, were blown up in his limo on live television for real it would be front-page 24-hour-a-day-on-CNN news. So when the lead story anywhere other than and 411mania wasn't McMahon's fiery death, he got the point. And because Joe Sixpack knows, deep in his heart-of-hearts, that wrestling isn't real, he probably assumed that it was all part of the show anyway.

To be sure, Rovell is being condescending so that William Q CNBCReader III doesn't think Rovell is one of those dirty slobs that watches professional wrestling, but he could at least be polite and give someone enough credit to assume they can tie their own shoes.

On top of that, the statement underscores the need for articles about professional wrestling to be written by people who have a working familiarity with professional wrestling. While it's always a good idea for any writer to be familiar with the subject of their work, it's especially true for an odd niche culture like professional wrestling. Something that an outsider can't understand is that this angle is so ridiculously stupid that it requires a suspension of disbelief that no one can manage. Even the markest-of-the-marks with an IQ of 6 who cries out "it's still real to me, dammit" calls bullshit when they see Vince McMahon "killed" in an exploding limousine.

Beyond all that, what chance is there that a WWE stockholder isn't familiar enough with the WWE to know what they're getting into when they buy WWE stock? Is there a realistic chance that some daytrader in Des Moines with a few hundred shares of WWE stock in his portfolio ran across a blurb in the Des Moines Birdcageliner about McMahon's death? And what's the worst that happens then? His monocle pops out and his top hat flies off?

I can't imagine how slow news has been at CNBC lately for that gibberish to be published.

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