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Cena reacts to CNN
WWE.com: Were you surprised that CNN only used seconds of an interview that in reality lasted approximately 45 minutes?
John Cena: Yeah, especially since I gave them so much. I must have sat down and given them 45 minutes of what I felt was the most candid I've ever been with anyone on camera. I encouraged them to ask me about anything and I would give them as much information as I had to any question that they would've had. So I was surprised it only came up to, I think the grand total was one sound byte.
WWE.com: What was your immediate reaction after seeing the CNN special?
Cena: Seeing as I did the interview, I knew they just chopped it up. I've seen that stuff like that done before. I was really a little bit timid going into the interview and worried that they might do something like that, but then I figured it was CNN and if I was in good hands with anyone it would be somebody like them. But when I saw it, my worst reality came true. I mean, especially— CNN is a pretty friggin' big network. They have a lot of people watching.
I know there's a lot of parents that watch our program that tuned into that documentary to see testimony from the WWE talent. There's a lot of potential business sponsorship. Something like that, one phrase like that, CNN doesn't know the credibility they ruined. They're just trying to drive their point home, which is just a matter of opinion. It's not fact. And for them to throw somebody who's hardworking and honest to the wolves like that, they have no idea what backlash that could've cost me. I'm really glad that WWE got on it early, but I mean, even still it's a matter of if you saw the CNN special and you haven't seen anything on WWE, then you believe what you hear.
WWE.com: Did you have any immediate second thoughts after you answered that steroid question? Did you feel you did anything wrong?
Cena: Not at all. That's a question I've answered a bunch. And going into a documentary on the life and death of Chris Benoit, I knew that steroids were gonna be brought up. You can't do an interview these days being in any sport, and expect performance enhancement drugs not to come up. That's why I was so confident in my answer because I tried to answer it the best way I could. I tried to paint the picture for the viewer that people have opinions. And regardless of how many drug tests I pass, or whatever you set for a by law, regardless of how many times I prove to the common person that I am drug free, they will have an opinion of me strictly because of what they see. It's a first impression. Somebody's gonna to look at me and say, "Oh, the kid's bigger than normal, he must do drugs." So I go and pass a drug test. They'll always say, "Ah, no, he still does drugs." So I tried to convince the viewer of the catch-22 about the whole popularity of performance enhancing drugs. You get people who have been busted for them so anytime nowadays when you see athletic prowess, it's not because the athlete's any good. Immediately, the general public points the finger that because they're better than we are, it must be because of performance enhancing drugs.
WWE.com: So there's no right answer to that question?
Cena: That's the thing. There is no right answer, but like I said, just because of the popularity of performance enhancing drug use -- and that is definitely not sports-entertainment specific, that is across the board from the Olympics on down -- people see any feat of strength, any sort of tone, physique, and immediately they point to drugs. That sucks. That just goes to show exactly how commonplace it is in society. Years ago when it was probably being used even more than it is now, that wasn't the case. People just said, hey, you just got in the gym and worked hard. And for a guy to really bust his ass, I mean, people know my life story, I've been kicking ass since I was 12 years old, and to have one quote like that completely chopped up and haphazardly edited, now all the work I've been trying to do to fight the tide of everybody saying that I've been on drugs, now I've gotta start from square one again.
WWE.com: If you could do the interview over again, would you do anything differently?
Cena: No, I'd get a hold of the producer and tell him where to cut the damned tape. I'm proud of my statement and like I said, I thought I made it the best I could. You can go onto WWE.com and find the unedited version. It's just the way that they cut it, you can take any three words and make it sound good. And that's exactly what they did. They took the beginning and then end of a two-and-a-half minute statement, cut it down to a 10-second sound byte and threw it out there and made it sound like I do drugs.
WWE.com: What's been the fallout so far from the CNN special from your fans or your family or your friends?
Cena: I think right away WWE.com went to bat for me and thank God. I've gotta say thanks for that. And when they did, it amazed me who started getting a hold of it. TMZ's blown it up, a lot of local major, major league presses, there was a huge article in my home city of Boston. It's been blown up in the Baltimore Times, all the various chat rooms and forums on the Internet. So the good thing is there are people looking at the honest truth, but like I said the bad thing is that probably a lot of folks who watch that documentary that still don't know the real truth, and if that leads to people not watching the WWE because they think John Cena's on steroids, that's sponsorships being lost. That's what CNN doesn't understand. They have their own agenda in mind. And I was under the impression they were a news company and had the agenda of reporting the facts.
WWE.com: What do you want to say to your fans about this controversy?
Cena: That's not the crowd that I'm worried about. The fans that have followed WWE or me, I'm not out to convince them. I firmly believe that they know well enough who I am and what I do. I'm out to convince those people that regardless of what we do, point the finger at me because I'm big, because I lift weights, because I spend more time in a gym than I do at a desk. Those are the people that I'm trying to convince and I've done it interview by interview, one person at a time, one listener at a time, one viewer at a time, then they go and watch that CNN crap and like I said, I'm back to square one again. I'm back to proving myself after hard work in the gym and now I gotta go prove myself again just because some guy made a nice edit cut.
WWE.com: You've been on CNN before, talking about wrestling and steroids. If they asked you to go back on CNN, would you do it?
Cena: Only if it was live. And I think from now on that's the way I'm going to conduct all of my interviews. CNN to me was the last bastion of news. There are tabloid shows and slanted shows that want to steer you in that direction. A CNN presents show should not be that. It should be a stating of the facts. Their job is to report the friggin' news and for me to go on a show like that and then have it totally slammed, it just shows me next time you gotta go on there live because they can't silence your voice if they ask you a question. I'd rather get into an argument with somebody where they're cutting me off and stepping on my words so at least then the viewers can hear what I have to say.
WWE.com: Has CNN contacted you or attempted to contact you since the special aired? Do you expect an apology from them?
Cena: You know, the way they run that company is their business and not for me to say. I think they have to put that all in perspective. They have, I guess, well-respected anchormen, anchorwomen, news personalities, and I would think if an outside source slandered one of them, I wouldn't say they would demand an apology, but I think they would agree it was the right thing to do. Like I said, I'm not the head of CNN so I don't make those calls. I think in that realm, at least the right thing to do is for them to offer some sort of apology, or, for lack of a better word, to say they [expletive] up.
WWE.com: How does this controversy change your impression of the media, especially CNN?
Cena: Big time. That was the thing that I was most hit with. This is a one-hour documentary on wrestling and as much as I like to think the world revolves around WWE because I'm so proud of what I do, there are bigger fish to fry out there like the war in Iraq, the presidential race, et cetera, et cetera. And if they're messing with my quote for an hour documentary just to get the point across that they want the viewing public to think that we're all on drugs, I can only imagine what they've done. It puts everything that they've done so far in speculation. In an honest news company that's not the position you want to be in.
WWE.com: So it does, in fact, change your perception of CNN.
Cena: Absolutely. I used to go there all the time. CNN.com was my homepage. I'd get pretty much what's going on with the world on a daily update. I changed it immediately because now I just get the inkling that they may be telling me what they want me to hear.
WWE.com: How does this controversy affect your recovery, if at all?
Cena: It doesn't affect my recovery. I'd have to go through hell and high water to be slowed down right now. I'm on pace to get back and it doesn't slow me down one bit. Now I know that every single interview I'm going to do, that question's going to come up, that interview's going to come up and like I said, there's no other way around it. It's slander of personal character. So if I were them, morally, I'd really do some soul searching and see if they can find out what the right thing to do is.
WWE.com: So would you say this controversy fuels you more now?
Cena: No, I've been going through this legitimately since I was 17 years old. I was drug tested as an athlete at a preparatory school just because of the outrageous gains I made. I went from 170 lbs to 225 lbs over the course of a school year and immediately they pointed the finger at drugs. The truth is I just had my growth spurt and went out of control. So I'm definitely used to handling that. It's just, like I said, now I've got a lot more leg work to do and I'll use whatever outlet I can to keep telling my story.