by Christian Duque
I have said it so many times, that what’s one more time, right? You guys know me, I don’t like writing articles about death. I will, of course, cover the passing of great athletes in our sport, out of respect. Beyond that, I’m not the type of writer to recycle stories and milk tragedies to get hits. I don’t get down like that, nor does Iron Magazine. This article, however, speaks to the abysmally poor quality of bodybuilding “journalism,” today.
Nick’s Strength and Power is the most popular YouTuber and he’s become the so-called gold standard for other up-and-coming channels. They see him with his various sponsorships, his 1+ million subscribers, and the various awards he’s won. He’s hobnobbed with Arnold, been courted by Federations, and he’s been courted by all the heavy hitters in the fitness industry. He’s even had veteran writers and commentators, royally, kiss his ass. His work is trash, and his reporting on the George Petersen autopsy, couldn’t be a more accurate example of what I’m talking about. In all honesty, he probably would have been better off not covering the story at all, but this individual cannot pass up the opportunity to put out a video. Pumping out content, quickly, seems to be the name of the game. The videos come out so quickly, that it makes me think he must live out of his garage. Many times, he’ll get videos out at the same speed as the mainstream media. Granted, he’s not actually reporting on the field, much less speaking directly to the people in the news; however, you still must give him credit, at least for that. The quality of the coverage is trash. If he was anyone else, I really wouldn’t care, but given that’s he’s the top guy on YouTube, I’m going to speak on his reporting. Following NSP, as is always the case, there’s 1-2 dozen copycats that will say and do exactly as he does. As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery. So that’s why I’m focusing in on NSP (I don’t even like saying his full channel name b/c I’m not looking to name drop).
Anyways, NSP’s “coverage” consisted of scrolling up and down an article on TMZ. Although he read the story out loud, he failed to point out that TMZ’s title was misleading. When looking at a death certificate, there’s a main cause of death, with contributing causes below it. Typically Cause #1 is the main cause. Causes 2 & beyond are merely contributing factors. The TMZ story included the word contributing, but ole NSP focused on gear, just like they’d did.
The fact is Petersen had a heart attack due to heart disease – that’s basically what the main cause of death was. Steroids did not kill him and there’s nothing to suggest that the cycle he was running, would kill anyone else. From what I gather, Da Bull may have been dealing with preexisting conditions. This detail changes everything. Miller could have addressed this point, urging competitors with preexisting conditions, whether cardiac, renal, or otherwise, to consider discontinuing from use, but instead, he used the TMZ story to double down on a position he hypocritically holds. And what position is that?
Well, Nick Miller posited that the autopsy story serves as a reminder to all to consider not using anabolic steroids. He followed up that statement, by pledging his well-known advocacy for the natural way, you know, natural bodybuilding. This bum makes his money reporting on Big Ramy, Nick Walker, and a ton of guys who are juiced to the gills. He capitalizes on guys who push the mass card, he commends those who bring razor-sharp condition (even though diuretics are far more dangerous than gear), and he chastises competitors who don’t satisfy enough of the freak factor to win contests.
Also, how many natural pro’s does Miller cover? How many natural contest results does he report on? When’s the last time Miller put out a video packed full of natural bodybuilding news? I don’t think he ever has. The vast majority, if not all, of his work, centers on chemically enhanced physique and strength-based athletes. For this clown to say he’s an advocate for the natural way and using this tragedy as a way to dissuade athletes from making the decision to use exogenous hormones, has got to be the height of hypocrisy.
If you want to watch a video of a guy reading a mainstream media tabloid article to you, coupled with rubbish commentary, this video would be just what the doctor ordered. It’s so bad, that Miller even, embarrassingly, said he’d never heard of Boldenone and Stanozolol. What a moron! He made it seem like these were two of the most obscure compounds in the sport. How in the hell can you be the #1 YouTuber, the single most influential media personality in the sport of bodybuilding, yet be so misinformed and ignorant, that you’re oblivious to two of the oldest, most common compounds in the sport? And even if he were so misinformed, as he apparently is, what stopped him from doing a Google search? I mean, it’s one thing to not be in the field and not get direct quotes from parties involved in a story, but to not even do a cursory search of the subject matter you’re covering, speaks volumes as to what kind of a journalist we’re dealing with.
The sad fact is that Da Bull had an enlarged heart and probably dealt with heart issues for a long time prior to his death. He was probably warned by his doctors, and he probably knew that quitting the sport could probably have provided him the opportunity to live a much longer life. Maybe that was all fine and true, but maybe Da Bull was willing to take the risks, in order to live the life he wanted to. Sometimes, people like to live for the moment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Perhaps Petersen lived according to his own terms.
All in all, I’m not surprised TMZ would sensationalize one contributing factor over others, in the hopes of raking up hits – they’re a tabloid, after all. I am, however, very happy that more serious publications, which in years past were guilty of this, haven’t made a media spectacle out of this tragedy. Although I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, I’m happy to recognize that the mainstream media has matured, even if some tabloids, still, cling to the old ways of riling up the masses in order to be relevant.
On the flipside, the fitness media continues to leave much to be desired. Many outlets continue to make money off of blatant speculation. Even now, that the autopsy results have been made public, I’m sure that in 3 months, 6 months, and/or even a year down the road, we’ll see talking heads raising more concerns, asking for answers to questions long answered, all in the hopes of generating more discussions. After all, discussions, keep people coming back. It’s the oldest trick in the book.
What sites want is traffic, engagement, and retention. The newsworthiness and/or the quality of the content is secondary to the stats. These sites want to be able to charge top dollar for advertising and the easy way to justify raising rates, is sheer numbers. If they can make the case for dramatically better numbers (e.g. visits, time on the site, clicks per visit), then they can charge some of the outrageous fees that they do. Unfortunately, real tragedies like the topic of this article, become little more than cannon fodder. That’s morally wrong, but makes perfect business sense to the vultures in our industry. Should you see one of these soulless opportunists profiting off of this story in 6 months or a years’ time, by all means copy and paste the link to this article on their content. It could be your way of saying “shame on you” and letting all their readers/viewers know what’s up too.
At IronMagazine we always keep it real. RIP Da Bull.