Archive for January 20th, 2010

FLASHBACK: ‘K&L Gates in Bizarre WWE Smackdown’

Before taking the full plunge into the alternate universe of Jerry McDevitt, lawyer for Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment — see previous item — I advise Connecticut politicos who just recently started following this blog to begin with a piece published three and a half months ago at the blog of American Lawyer magazine:

“K&L Gates in Bizarre WWE Smackdown”

by Zach Lowe

October 2, 2009

Irv Muchnick

K&L Gates: We Did No Washington Lobbying on Behalf of WWE in 2009

Jerry McDevitt, Pittsburgh-based partner of the law firm K&L Gates – which both is a legal counsel for World Wrestling Entertainment and was one of its registered Washington lobbyists – has responded to my email to him yesterday requesting further information on WWE federal lobbying efforts in 2009. (See yesterday’s item on this blog, “Did Linda McMahon’s WWE Do No Federal Lobbying in 2009 – Or Just Not Report Any?”)

McDevitt wrote in part, “We filed two quarterly reports – for the first and second quarters – in 2009. We also reported the termination of the registration in the second quarter, and thus there are no subsequent reports. In both we reported no lobbying activity, which should be of assistance for those who, like you, have a hard time understanding what zero means.”

McDevitt said that questions about WWE’s other registered lobbyist, APCO Worldwide, would have to be directed to that firm itself.

I say McDevitt “wrote in part” because the second half of his message to me challenged my December 14 post, “EXCLUSIVE: Linda McMahon’s WWE Medical Director Met With Chris Benoit Brain Experts in 2008.”

I will dedicate future posts to a full airing of this controversy and to the history of my dealings with Jerry McDevitt during the research for my book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death. I also will reproduce the copy McDevitt provided to me of his letter yesterday to West Virginia neurosurgeon and brain researcher Dr.  Julian Bailes. That letter, in turn, attaches a copy of McDevitt’s September 25, 2007, letter to Chris Nowinski, the former WWE wrestler who started the Massachusetts-based Sports Legacy Institute. (The Nowinski group,  incidentally, was featured in the most recent edition of the HBO program Real Sports.)

In a nutshell, my report last month disclosed that WWE’s own medical director, Dr. Joseph Maroon, met in 2008 with directors of Bailes’ West Virginia brain institute, including Dr. Bennett Omalu, who previously had been affiliated with Nowinski’s organization. Maroon was solicited for comment but did not respond.

I wrote that WWE’s statement to ESPN — “WWE has been asking to see the research and test results in the case of Mr. Benoit for years and has not been supplied with them” (emphasis added)  — was “grossly, and characteristically, misleading” and that the background “reveals that ‘lie’ may not be too strong a word.”

McDevitt, for his part, says my report itself is a lie.

Readers, I think, are capable of reading the whole record and resolving this dispute for themselves.

More soon. The power is out here at home during storms in Northern California, and it is hard to post stuff today as rapidly as I would like.

Irv Muchnick

Wrestling’s Jim Cornette Rips the McMahons

Simon Rothstein of UK’s Sun has a hard-hitting interview today with Jim Cornette, the pro wrestling manager and executive who is now with the promotion Ring of Honor. See “‘It is shocking if an ex-wrestler is actually found in good health,'”

Cornette blasts Linda and Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment — which he has both worked for and competed against — for encouraging the drug culture that is largely responsible for the industry’s death pandemic.

It’s worth noting that both ROH and TNA (for which Cornette also has worked) have occupational health and safety issues of their own. TNA, in particular, has an atrocious record of steroid and painkiller abuse, and a testing regime even less reliable than WWE’s “wellness policy.” For example, TNA just signed accused North Carolina drug dealer, and wrestling star, Jeff Hardy after WWE dropped him.

Nonetheless, for the general public the preponderance of the heat appropriately falls on WWE, the industry bellwether and standard-setter. The McMahons’ talent-rewards system in the eighties and nineties pushed impossible physiques that, for the most part, could be attained only with dangerous drug intake.

The other piece of the puzzle is the hard-core performance style, popularized here by the original ECW out of Philadelphia. Chair shots, weapons, and moves with crazy physical risks exacerbated concussions and dependence on painkillers. WWE didn’t invent the can-you-top-this? mentality, which buried wrestling’s more sane magic-show tradition. But WWE had the market power in the late 1990’s and the first decade of this century to reject those elements; instead, the McMahons embraced and co-opted them.

Irv Muchnick

Muchnick’s Beyond Chron Piece to Analyze Linda McMahon Senate Race After Scott Brown Win

Irvin Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, will have a column in Thursday’s edition of Beyond Chron, the San Francisco online newspaper.

The piece, headlined “After Massachusetts, All Eyes Turn to Connecticut’s Bipartisan Dysfunction,” will analyze Linda McMahon’s U.S. Senate race in the wake of Scott Brown’s victory yesterday.

Irv’s Tweets

January 2010