There’s a single word that rules almost everything about professional wrestling. That word is “kayfabe.” Wikipedia defines it as “the portrayal of staged events within the industry as ‘real’ or ‘true’, specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature of any kind.”
The emphasis on that last part is mine.
I bring up kayfabe because I sometimes wonder if that’s what truly lies at the heart of Trump’s “the media is the enemy of the people” gambit.
Does he really believe that? I have no doubt that he views information he can’t control as a threat, which in turn makes it a threat to the people, what with him being America’s savior and all. But what about his really high profile enemies in the mainstream media? Do they all really oppose each other?
Take Saturday Night Live, for example. Remember when they really stuck it to Trump during the election by letting him host the show and making him seem human by having him dance to a Drake song?
And have you noticed how now in return he gives them the ol’ what for by firing off an angry tweet whenever they mock him, giving each sketch countless online hate views it wouldn’t have had otherwise?
Oh man! The vitriol is palpable between those two! Here’s hoping Trump and Lorne Michaels don’t get pulled over by police while doing cocaine in the same car together someday, thus shattering the facade!
Sorry, that was another wrestling reference.
Or how about his contentious relationship with the major news outlets of the world? CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post…you know the ones. Trump hates them, and they hate him back. If he proposes an idea, the “crooked media” is always right there with their nitpicky criticisms.
At least that’s the case most of the time. There is one major exception, and it doesn’t just apply to Trump. Without fail, every major news outlet has agreed with every administration since Bush II that, in no uncertain terms, the government of Venezuela absolutely must be replaced.
Reminder! This is America. We don’t unanimously agree on anything. That all sides in the “government vs. media” fight are seemingly of one mind on this one issue, and have been for years now, in no way constitutes proof that our intentions in Venezuela are pure of heart. If anything, it’s a good reason to be suspicious that they are not.
Here’s the thing, no honest examination of the situation in Venezuela can lead to the conclusion that the United States shares zero responsibility for what’s transpired there. We have a long history of destroying socialist regimes that have the gall to materialize on our half of the globe, especially when they threaten our ability to make money. What makes you think this would be any different? What sea change in American political thinking do you believe occurred that suddenly made us okay with that kind of thing, after centuries of being vehemently and violently opposed to it?
Nothing changed. We oppose this attempt at socialism just like all the others, and we’ve been doing everything in our power to stop it since the day Hugo Chavez became the first non-white, non-beholden-to-our-interests leader of Venezuela.
Good luck getting any major American media outlet to admit that, though. If you ask them, what’s happening in Venezuela is nothing more than us trying to fix a humanitarian crisis that we had no hand in causing. That’s the Trump administration’s stance, and since there’s a John Oliver segment that says the same thing, it must be true, right?
Nope. Our days of fighting wars for humanitarian reasons are way behind us, and everyone knows that. We fight to protect our interests. National Security Adviser/First Mustache John Bolton has even taken to invoking the Monroe Doctrine when defending our actions in Venezuela. If you’re unfamiliar, the Monroe Doctrine was the impetus for America’s corporate-interest-fueled series of military interventions known as “the Banana Wars.”
We don’t care about the people of Venezuela. We care that those people are sitting on top of the largest oil reserves in the world and that they won’t let us at it.
Sounds familiar, right? Those who opposed our most recent military excursions in the Middle East often cited “we’re just doing this for oil” as a key argument. Yet somehow, as it pertains to Venezuela, all sides seem to agree that possibility is just off the table completely and we’re solely in this for the humanitarian likes? What a unique moment in American history!
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to throw out a wild theory here…what if this is all some wrestling shit? Trump is the heel and the media is the hero. Or maybe you see it the other way around. It doesn’t really matter, so long as you identify a villain and recognize them as the polar opposite of your hero.
Why? Because when they unite over a common cause, it makes their concerns seem unquestionably genuine.
Like, imagine if you were a stupid kid who thought wrestling was real in the ’80s, and Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant did a PSA about the dangers of not wearing a helmet when you ride your bike. You’d wear that helmet for at least a few weeks after because, holy shit, those two hate each other alright, but they put aside their differences over their concern for the safety of kids on bikes. Must be important!
Then you grow up and Reddit tells you they were each paid $150,000 for their time and filmed their respective parts in separate time zones and Hulk Hogan rode to his taping on a motorcycle while not wearing a helmet and Andre the Giant would have too if they made motorcycles big enough for him to ride.
What are the chances a version of that is playing out right now? What if Trump and the major news outlets are just pretending to be enemies when they’re really all just a bunch of friends who want to fuck Venezuela?
I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about small stakes here. Again, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Getting access to it means a lot of money for a lot of people. If you think that’s not at all what we’re up to, this quote from John Bolton speaking to Fox News would beg to differ:
“We’re in conversation with major American companies now. I think we’re trying to get to the same end result here. … It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”
Remember, those mainstream news outlets, no matter how anti-Trump they may appear to be, are ultimately controlled by very rich and powerful people and companies.
The New York Times was saved from financial ruin by a loan from the fifth richest man in the world.
The richest man in the world owns the Washington Post. How much can a guy who’s fine with selling facial recognition software to ICE really oppose Trump?
If the public feud between Trump and the mainstream media isn’t some sort of ploy to make the idea of a military invasion in Venezuela more palatable, then a lot of news outlets have a lot of questions to answer about their reporting on this subject.
For the better part of two decades now, we’ve been hearing the exact same story from all involved parties. The leadership in Venezuela is bad and the United States has nothing to do with that outside of our deep humanitarian concern for the people of that country.
They’ll tell you 50 other countries recognize Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. They don’t tell you that a January poll revealed that 81 percent of Venezuelans didn’t even know who Guaido was before the United States hired him for that job.
They’ll sing the praises of the brave people of Venezuela, but only those who support the opposition. If you still support Maduro, you’re a thug.
They’ll tell you Maduro is furthering the suffering of his people by refusing $20 million in humanitarian aid from the United States, but not that the sanctions we’ve imposed cost the people of Venezuela $30 million a day.
They’ll laugh off claims that the United States has been engaging in financial warfare to destabilize and eventually invade Venezuela as the conspiracy theory ramblings of a disgraced dictator, while making no mention of the various leaked documents that show we’ve been doing exactly that for years now.
The coverage of what happened earlier this month in Venezuela offered more examples of some of our most respected media outlets sticking to a hard-line “Maduro is evil and the people need our help” stance, while leaving out some key details about the situation.
If you’re unfamiliar, US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido took to the streets (and the internet) and called for all who oppose Maduro to join him in a final push to unseat an evil dictator.
Finally, the opposition had gained the support of the military! It was really gonna work this time! The United States-backed coup against Venezuela was underway!
Except, it didn’t work. Turns out he didn’t have the support of the military, which is a huge obstacle for any prospective coup.
But also don’t call it that! Not long after the “uprising” started, the Washington Post and Miami Herald both published editorials chastising those who dare refer to this exercise in American compassion as a “coup.”
Of the two, the Miami Herald offered the most slanted justification possible for this stance. They formed their opinion based on an interview with Juan Guaido himself. “Don’t call it a coup, because the guy leading that coup says you shouldn’t call it a coup,” basically.
As for the Washington Post, they’re of the opinion that calling this a coup infringes upon the rights of the Venezuelan people to rise up and remove a “toxic” administration from power. They certainly don’t want military action, but they do praise Trump for his use of sanctions to deal with the problem.
That argument would be perfectly valid if that was all that’s happening here, but it’s not.
As I mentioned earlier, claims that the United States has been engaging in financial warfare against Venezuela as a precursor to an eventual military invasion have always been written off as some kind of wild conspiracy theory promoted by the Maduro regime.
Well, now we’re right at Venezuela’s door, backing an opposition figure who’s already said that he views military intervention as the only way to unseat Maduro. So, half of that “conspiracy theory” is looking like it was probably true. How confident are you that the other half is completely false?
Keep in mind, Obama declared a national emergency over Venezuela way back in 2015. Do you remember that making you feel safer at all? Do you even remember that it happened? Have you looked into what that meant and what it allowed us to do? Any idea why we did it?
Those are all questions worth looking into before co-signing the idea that this is merely an effort to end human suffering and nothing more. If anything, our actions in Venezuela have perpetuated human suffering.
Remember the UN Human Rights Council? If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you recall that the United States pulled out of it in 2018. Our justification was that their election process made it too easy for human rights abusers to join the council, and that it focused too much on Israeli aggression toward Palestinians. The Washington Post mostly agreed at the time.
This display of unity could not have come at a more convenient moment, because it makes for a great reason to not even mention that the UN Human Rights Council condemned those sanctions the Post praised in its “don’t call it a coup” editorial, arguing that our actions disproportionately target and promote the suffering of Venezuela’s poorest citizens, even going so far as to suggest that we pay reparations over it.
Good thing we’ve all decided they don’t matter anymore! Of course they don’t think what we’re doing in Venezuela is good! They’re bad! On this, we have all agreed! The people don’t want Maduro! The people want Guaido! This isn’t a coup! This is democracy on the march!
But nah. This is a coup. Or at least what happened this month was an attempted coup. And it’s not even the first one we’ve “not” backed in that country. George W. Bush admitted to having several meetings with the groups behind a failed 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela. But don’t worry, he made it clear that we didn’t endorse that coup in those meetings. We were just talking, you know? Since when has that guy ever lied about anything?
I don’t doubt that the people of Venezuela would prefer that Maduro leave office, but I very highly doubt that they want the United States to decide who replaces him. I’m almost positive they don’t want it to happen by way of a military invasion.
That’s exactly where we’re headed, though, and everyone tasked with telling you about it will swear that it’s all on the up-and-up. Trump might be bad, but what he’s doing in Venezuela is good. You can trust the media on this one, because they hate Trump as much as you do. He called them the enemy of the people. If there was reason for concern, they’d obviously tell you.
Except there is reason for concern, and they aren’t telling you. The other side of the Venezuela story, the side that involves the United States government punishing a sovereign nation for electing a socialist leader, is not discussed by major media outlets in this country.
Honestly, I’m not sure I even want to know the answer to that question.
What I do know is that positioning Trump and the mainstream media as foes adds immediate legitimacy to any subject they agree on, even if it’s illegally overthrowing a South American government.
Just something to keep in mind on that inevitable day when the liberal news heroes of the world tell you invading Venezuela is the right thing to do.
If you want to read more about this country’s long history of meddling in Venezuela’s affairs, check out the other Medium column I wrote about that very thing in 2018. It’s right damn here.