Archive for December 21st, 2009

Obama’s Shame – ‘Christmas Gift’ to WWE’s GOP Senate Candidate Linda McMahon (full text)

[originally published at Beyond Chron, December 17,]]

by Irvin Muchnick

Fresh off the contorted Oslo speech in which he accepted his richly unearned Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of wars he inherited and had just announced he would intensify, our Laureate-in-Chief is making an appearance Saturday night on NBC’s “Tribute to the Troops” special – featuring World Wrestling Entertainment performers providing escapism for our men and women in uniform.

There’s a lot to say about this latest example of President Obama’s seemingly bottomless capacity to pander to the right. For starters: Does this guy ever know how to say “no” to a TV camera? He makes Bill Clinton, the gold standard for media whores, look like a shrinking violet.

On the substance, I can’t help remembering that John F. Kennedy used to refuse to wear silly hats as props, even on the campaign trail, because he felt it undermined the gravitas of the presidential message.

Sadly, I’m not surprised that Obama is doing this WWE gig. Or should I say, latest WWE gig. Last year he, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain took turns looking like asses on WWE’s flagship cable show, “Raw.”

It is stipulated that attention-hungry politicians are the last to make distinctions among “Laugh-In,” “Saturday Night Live,” and pro wrestling. To them, these are all are just lumpenproletariat photo ops, ways to humanize and laugh at themselves.

But this one is different. Linda McMahon – the wife of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, and until recently the company’s CEO – is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut currently held by Chris Dodd. Pledging to spend an ungodly $50 million of her personal fortune (reaped in part thanks to her industry’s unbelievable pandemic of drugs and untimely death), Linda McMahon is one of two remaining candidates in the Republican field. The other is a former congressman, Rob Simmons.

If the election were held today, rather than in November 2010, polls suggest that either Simmons or McMahon would trounce Dodd, who is reeling with the end of the Obama honeymoon. That makes the president’s immensely stupid WWE guest shot doubly so.

The McMahons are your basic money-grubbing bipartisan non-ideologues; the databases show past campaign contributions by both of them to Democrats as well as Republicans. This has required some explaining away by Linda McMahon, for primary fights typically play to the party base. With his appearance on “Tribute to the Troops,” Obama now has injected himself into an internal state political fight – and he has done so in a way that gives perverse cover to a candidate of the opposite party.

In Connecticut, insiders are calling this gambit “Obama’s Christmas gift to Linda McMahon.” And I think that’s about right.

Shame on you, Mr. President. I didn’t know the title of your book was The Audacity of Hoax.

Regular Beyond Chron contributor Irvin Muchnick is the author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death ( Instead of waiting to read Irv’s blogs when they get linked at the Connecticut political site Capitol Report, follow him directly at

Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (Part 1 — Dr. George Zahorian)

TODAY – Part 1, Dr. George Zahorian

Tuesday – Part 2, 1992 Drug and Sex Scandals

Wednesday – Part 3, 1994 Drug Trial

Thursday – Part 4, The Defense Lawyer, the “Fixer,” and the Playboy Model

Friday – Part 5, Aftermath

Saturday – Part 6, Waxman Committee Interview

Sunday – Part 7, Conclusion

In 1994 World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon – husband of Linda McMahon, current Senate candidate in Connecticut and former CEO of WWE – was acquitted  of federal steroid trafficking and conspiracy charges in a sensational trial on Long Island. This blog series, currently scheduled for seven parts (see post titles listed above), chronicles that episode and surrounding events.

The story begins in 1991, when George Zahorian, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, physician, became the first doctor convicted under the federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which prohibited the prescription of steroids for non-therapeutic purposes.

Throughout the 1980s, Zahorian was the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission-appointed ringside doctor at pro wrestling events in his region of the state. In the early part of the decade, this included the Allentown and Hamburg syndicated television tapings of what was then called the World Wrestling Federation. Zahorian was even fed on-camera roles in several TV story lines (known in wrestling as “angles”).

Dozens of steroid-abusing wrestlers utilized Zahorian, an easy-touch, heavy-duty connection. As the wrestlers lined up for their blood-pressure tests before Zahorian-administered shows in Pennsylvania, they and the doctor openly exchanged cash for bags of drugs. Federal investigators produced voluminous FedEx records of shipments from Zahorian’s office to WWF performers. At the trial, several of these wrestlers confirmed that their shipments had included steroids.

Two key recipients of Zahorian packages who did not testify at the trial were Hulk Hogan, WWF’s most famous wrestler, and Vince McMahon, who, in addition to being the kingpin of the industry, is an obsessed amateur bodybuilder.

Hogan was subpoenaed, but lawyer Jerry McDevitt succeeded in getting the judge to quash the subpoena on the grounds that it invaded Hogan’s privacy and harmed his business interests. Appearing on Arsenio Hall’s TV talk show right after the trial, Hogan denied that he had ever abused steroids – a contention so laughable that it would open the floodgates for accusers to go on record over the next year on a range of internal WWF scandals.

Unlike Hogan and the other wrestlers, Vince McMahon was not subpoenaed for the Zahorian trial. After the doctor was convicted and  sentenced to federal prison, McMahon instituted a steroid-testing program for WWF talent. In the course of announcing the program at a news conference, McMahon conceded that he personally had “experimented” with the anabolic steroid Deca-Durabulin.

Irvin Muchnick

NEXT: Part 2, 1992 Drug and Sex Scandals

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December 2009