World Wrestling Entertainment appears to have picked a fight with the Tea Party, and Glenn Beck has come to the defense of the conservative movement. Now, WWE wants a piece of Beck.
WWE’s offense, from the perspective of Tea-Party conservatives, was the introduction of wrestler Jack Swagger and manager Zeb Colter, who typically appear in front of symbols and slogans adopted by the Tea Party, cite the Constitution, speak of patriotism, then launch into racist rants. The name of the Colter character, many Internet bloggers opine, is also a subtle slam against conservative columnist Ann Coulter.
On his radio show this week, Beck slammed the WWE for anti-conservative partisanship, and on Friday the WWE issued a press release challenging Beck to discuss the matter further as a guest on Monday Night Raw, which is taping Monday in Dallas, where Beck lives.
Beck took his time responding, but late Friday declined the invitation, saying, “Unfortunately, I am currently booked doing anything else.”
During Friday’s radio show, Beck excoriated the WWE not only for making Tea Partiers the villains in one of its latest storylines but also for making one of them a Vietnam War veteran, and he inferred that conservative fans might reconsider their decision to spend money on the brand.
“You’re making a villain out of what?” Beck asked. "Probably 80 percent of your audience who’s tired as it is of being miscast? They’re tired of this…I’m sick and tired of being miscast. I am sick and tired of it. It is lazy at best. And I certainly am not going to give any more time or my money to any organization that is miscasting, is making it harder for me and my family to stand up for what I believe in.”
Later, he got closer to suggesting that conservatives ought to boycott the WWE -- though without ever saying the word.
"We've talked about this for awhile," he said. "Put your money where your heart is ... You're gonna be mocked by people you think are friendly to you? No way!"
Beck (see video below) also called WWE characters, “Stupid wrestling people."
“WWE is giving Beck the opportunity to address our 14 million weekly viewers and our global fan base, as he believes we are offending our ‘conservative’ fans with this storyline,” the WWE said in its press-release challenge to Beck on Friday.
Late Friday, the WWE posted a video response to Beck where Swagger and Colter go off-character to explain that the politics they spout is for entertainment purposes only. See that video below, as well.
"We have about 60 characters on our show," says "Colter" in the video, referencing Monday Night Raw. "A lot more than say NCIS or Glee. But we're not that much different. Some of our characters are really likeable, and some are detestable."
The bashing of the Tea Party, of course, is hardly new in the entertainment industry. Morgan Freeman, for example, said on CNN that “The Tea Party movement – and, by association, the Republican party – is racist and wants to screw the country.”
Sean Penn, also on CNN, said: “You have what I call the ‘Get the N-word out of the White House party,’ the Tea Party.”
And perhaps the most recent high-profile slam came from Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner, who, during an interview on PBS, insinuated that Tea Partiers were ill informed.
“You have people like these Tea Party people protesting government and then asked if they really want to give up their Social Security payments and they don’t seem to know that that’s actually part of what government is,” he said. “There’s this rejection of this sort of basic idea of human community.”
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