When I was in grade school during the 1950s, my friends and I would occasionally watch Live Atlanta Wrestling, which was broadcast locally from the Larry Bell Auditorium in nearby Marietta, Ga. Even as children, we understood that pro wrestling was all an act, an exhibition of acrobatics, and that nobody was really being hurt. But it was fun to see a pretend morality play in which the good-guy wrestlers battled obnoxious bad guys, albeit in fuzzy black-and-white images on a 12-inch screen.
The good guys were invariably clean-living, polite, and respectful local boys for whom the fans always cheered. But it was the bad guys who made the exercise worthwhile. For example, there was the Mighty Yankee, a ski-masked, trash-talking Northerner who, in his pre-match ringside interviews, would mock the strength, manliness, intelligence, and courage of Southern males. He never failed to incite the crowd of rural fans to an outraged frenzy.
Even better were the Von Brauner Brothers, two pretend Germans who wore nothing but Speedos and swastika armbands. When they entered the ring, they would salute the audience with a “Sieg Heil.” Since World War II had just ended, this produced the desired response, as screaming rednecks tried to storm into the ring to tear these ersatz Nazis apart.
But the fun didn’t stop there. Remarkably, these two Aryan brutes had a manager named Gentleman Saul Weingeroff, a short, skinny, mustachioed man who wore a homburg and carried an ivory-tipped cane. Nobody ever asked why two Nazis had a Jewish manager. They just did. In any event, during the matches, while one brother distracted the easily distractible referee, the other Von Brauner would get a headlock on the good guy and drag him to their corner, where Gentleman Saul would whack the local hero on the head with his cane. Pandemonium!
You may be wondering why I’m taking you on this trip through my wasted childhood. Well, you may also have heard that President Trump has tweeted a video of himself body-slamming a man with a CNN logo for a head. It was his way of underlining his claim that he has prevailed in exposing CNN as a purveyor of fake news.
CNN and other liberal media outlets have reacted in horror. In all seriousness, their hyperventilating talking heads are insisting that the tweet is encouraging violence against reporters and that it may well cause someone to get hurt.
Obviously these media folks didn’t grow up with the cultural advantage of having watched Live Atlanta Wrestling. So I want to allay their fears. There really is no man with a CNN logo for a head. That’s fake, just like the body-slam. Years ago, Trump “body-slammed” wrestling impresario Vince McMahon as part of a televised promotion of McMahon’s pro wrestling company. In the recent tweet, McMahon’s face was replaced with a CNN logo.
So calm down, television news people. Those of us with opposable thumbs are intelligent enough to distinguish between Trump’s tweet and reality. Heck, most of us are even capable of viewing Road Runner cartoons without later trying to blow up actual coyotes. We well understand that the tweet is nothing more than a camp play on the silliness that is professional wrestling. Sheesh!
The other criticism leveled by the mainstream media is that Trump’s tweet is not befitting the dignity of the presidency. Now, that’s interesting and warrants further inquiry. So let me propose a word-association test for concerned media types everywhere. Ready? Bill Clinton. Cigar. Intern’s vagina. Oral sex. Oval Office. Dignity. Which one of those words does not belong?
Remember the storm of media condemnation when Clinton was caught cavorting with his pants around his ankles in the Oval Office? Yeah, neither do I. Instead, what I recall is that the liberal media circled the wagons to protect their Boy King. With but a relatively minuscule number of exceptions, the media expressed no concerns about presidential dignity back then.
So let’s be honest. If this were ancient Rome and Caligula was a Democrat, the mainstream media would be praising his rectitude and dignity even as he appointed his horse a consul of the empire. Using that truism as an analytical baseline, it becomes easier to see that what’s really bugging the media is that Trump isn’t playing by the rules that they have traditionally imposed on Republican officeholders. You see, as a non-Democrat, he’s supposed to squirm silently while the media use him as a piñata. Instead, he’s hitting back. Hard. So we’re told that this makes him undignified.
In reality, Trump’s tweets about CNN, MSNBC, Joe and Mika, and other grandees have produced a reaction similar to that obtained by jamming a broomstick into a primate cage. The media monkeys are screeching and throwing feces in all directions, and, quite frankly, it’s great fun to watch.
For those of us who were bored to distraction by the mainstream media’s monotonous eight-year-long tongue bath of Barack Obama, seeing Trump drive these self-important media gods crazy is a welcome change of pace. Trump’s tweets have reduced the smug elite media to a state of raging apoplexy not unlike that of those inflamed, country wrestling fans of my distant youth.
And you know what? Watching this circus unfold makes me feel like a kid again. Oh, yes, it most certainly does. And for that I must thank you, President Trump.
George Parry is a former state and federal prosecutor practicing law in Philadelphia. firstname.lastname@example.org