Archive for December 27th, 2009

Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (Part 7 – Conclusion)

Monday – 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

TODAY – Part 7, Conclusion

At his 1994 trial on steroid trafficking and conspiracy charges, I believe the jury of Vince McMahon’s peers got it right. In other words, the federal government failed to prove its case.

More broadly, I don’t jump to conclusions about McMahon’s criminal accountability for the outcomes of his peculiar industry – even if they stem, as they unquestionably do, from standards he personally created or enabled.

The best analogy, though it’s a weak one, is the role of owners in other, more legitimate sports. In 1998 Mark McGwire shattered major league baseball’s single-season home run record and was part of a manufactured feel-good narrative. Subsequently, the public has become aware that the explosion of baseball power-hitting, and the accompanying attendance records, were supported by steroid and Human Growth Hormone abuse. McGwire’s own links to this culture date all the way back to an FBI investigation in Michigan in the early 1990s. Yet no one has seriously contended that Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, should be tried in court for his vicariously profitable relationship to these misdeeds. (However, I am among those of the strong opinion that Selig does deserves all the ridicule and shame he has received, and then some.)

Linda and Vince McMahon’s story is a complex one of a stewardship whose excesses were far worse than baseball’s. Depending on your perspective, the fact that pro wrestling is a pseudo-sport makes what has happened there either more or less excusable: more excusable because “that’s entertainment”; less excusable because the consequence has been a public health problem – a pandemic of dozens upon dozens of avoidable deaths.

This blog series is a recognition that the McMahon family’s business success – the source of the wealth underwriting a campaign for the U.S. Senate – has been both complex and dramatic. World Wrestling Entertainment, at the pinnacle of an immensely profitable industry with carnival roots, has a horrible record of health and safety standards, of which death by drugs is but one aspect. The 2007 Chris Benoit murder-suicide ratcheted to a new level the urgency of a full and transparent history of these events. Linda McMahon’s candidacy for high elected office offers a useful platform for further scrutiny.

Irvin Muchnick


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December 2009