Archive for January 29th, 2010

Linda McMahon Chronicles: Strange Tale of the Stamford Police and the ‘Benoit Wikipedia Hacker’ (Part 2)

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Introduction (January 28)

EVERYTHING THEY DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW AND WERE AFRAID TO ASK

The  media frenzy surrounding the June 2007 double murder/suicide of World Wrestling Entertainment star Chris Benoit intensified when Internet sleuths determined that Benoit’s biography was edited at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 25, to note that he had missed the previous night’s wrestling show in Houston because of personal circumstances “stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.” This was more than half-a-day before the Benoit family’s bodies were discovered in their home outside Atlanta.

The Wikipedia insertion was quickly traced to Matthew T. Greenberg, a 19-year-old Stamford resident who had just completed his freshman year at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Because Greenberg lived in the headquarters city of WWE, an already curious story exploded.

It quickly fizzled, however, with the conclusion by the investigating authorities that it was all an awful coincidence.

A report by the Associated Press facilitated “closure” with the incorrect statement that the Wiki edit preceded the earlier-publicized transmissions of Benoit’s final text messages to two wrestler-friends. In fact, Benoit had sent those texts – and they were also, almost certainly, received by the wrestler colleagues – early Sunday morning, as much as 20 hours before Greenberg inputted the note about Nancy.

Further, the AP reporter who wrote the account misstating the chronology of the text messages and the Wikipedia mystery based his story largely on conversations with WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, The reporter, Harry Weber, would tell me, “[T]here was confusion caused by police, WWE attorney and others as to the timeline,” and “I do believe some of the confusion caused by the timeline discrepancies provided by the WWE were [sic] intentional.” See “Jerry McDevitt, Lawyer for Linda McMahon’s WWE, Gets Mad at Me Again (Part 2),” https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/jerry-mcdevitt-lawyer-for-linda-mcmahon%E2%80%99s-wwe-gets-mad-at-me-again-part-2/

On June 29, Stamford Detective Tim Dolan questioned Greenberg for 25 minutes. The interrogation can be viewed on my YouTube channel in three parts:

http://www.youtube.com/user/WrestlingBabylon#p/u/22/5bHmsfSDvUc

http://www.youtube.com/user/WrestlingBabylon#p/u/21/LLesDwGkeD8

http://www.youtube.com/user/WrestlingBabylon#p/u/20/UY42VBGh5s0

Arguably, Dolan never asked Greenberg the key question of whether Greenberg had a connection with WWE. Inarguably, the detective failed to press in any depth whether Greenberg and the company had a direct or indirect connection.

Most pointedly, Dolan did not ask Greenberg at all about Chavo Guerrero, one of the two wrestlers to whom Chris Benoit had sent his final texts. The reason this omission was significant was that the Internet sleuths had already reported in considerable detail on past Wikipedia pranks of Greenberg and his circle of college friends – most notably, racist and misogynist juvenalia about, respectively, basketball player Ron Artest and wrestling personality/actress Stacy Kiebler. Yet Greenberg also recently had removed scurrilous vandalism at the Wikipedia page for Chavo Guerrero – raising the obvious question of whether Greenberg and Guerrero might have had a friendship or acquaintance.

Quoting Captain Richard Conklin, the Stamford Advocate reported, without naming Greenberg, that he had been interviewed by the local police on videotape. The Advocate reporter, Zach Lowe (now with American Lawyer Media), would tell me that he asked Conklin for the video at the time but was turned down.

In February 2008, eight months later, Greenberg was named in the report of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, closing the Benoit criminal investigation. According to the summary, Stamford had forwarded, and Fayette County had attached to the public file, copies of both the interrogation of Greenberg and the forensic examination of his computer (on which the Stamford police were assisted by a detective with the Darien police).

But I discovered that these records were not included in the Georgia open records. That led to a tangled freedom-of-information fight with police departments in two states. More on that in the next post.

NEXT: Stamford Police “Accidentally” Fail to Give the Georgia Investigators the Wikipedia Hacker Video Interrogation

Irv Muchnick

East Coast Journalist: ‘West Coast author who is dogging Linda McMahon coming to Stamford’

I greatly appreciate the mention in the blog of Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate, which can be viewed at http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2010/01/29/west-coast-author-who-has-been-dogging-linda-mcmahon-coming-to-stamford/.

I also appreciate that Brother Lockhart didn’t bust my chops for repeating the phrase “closely watched Senate race” in consecutive paragraphs of the press release about my upcoming event at the Borders bookstore in Stamford.

Irv Muchnick

‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Author Muchnick at Borders in Stamford, Connecticut, March 25

Contacts:

Simon Ware, simon@ecwpress.com

(416) 694-3348

or

Irvin Muchnick, info@muchnick.net

CHRIS & NANCY – the book about the murder-suicide of superstar pro wrestler Chris Benoit, which has landed in the middle of a closely watched U.S. Senate race – will be featured at a reading and signing by author Irvin Muchnick at Borders Book Shop in Stamford, Connecticut, 1041 High Ridge Road, on Thursday, March 25, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

This will be the anchor event of Muchnick’s statewide tour during the week before WrestleMania, and at a moment when the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Linda McMahon, is conducting a closely watched campaign for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. WWE is headquartered in Stamford.

“We’re looking forward to sending Irv to Connecticut; this is an important book and should be widely read,” said Simon Ware, publicity director of ECW Press. “CHRIS & NANCY is more than a wrestling book. It is a riveting true-crime story, and now it has been injected straight into the world of mainstream politics.”

Raffaello Piccoli, general manager of Borders in Stamford, added, “With our location, obviously, we have enjoyed great success with wrestling-related events. We look forward to an exciting evening of literary aggression.”

Muchnick previously authored the popular ECW Press book WRESTLING BABYLON: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal. He is also the lead respondent in Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick, a landmark case for freelance writers’ rights, which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Web: http://muchnick.net

Blog: https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com

Twitter: @irvmuch

YouTube: http://youtube.com/WrestlingBabylon

#####

‘After Massachusetts, All Eyes Turn to Connecticut’ (full text)

[originally published at Beyond Chron, January 21, http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/After_Massachusetts_All_Eyes_Turn_to_Connecticut_s_Bipartisan_Dysfunction_7727.html, under the headline “After Connecticut, All Eyes Turn to Connecticut’s Bipartisan Dysfunction”]

by Irvin Muchnick

Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts means that the next stop on the Obama backlash tour could be neighboring Connecticut, where another long-time Democratic Senate seat is up for grabs. Unlike Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd died only in the polls – prompting him to abandon a run for a sixth term. Dodd’s replacement as the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now expects a tough race against either Rob Simmons, a once-moderate former Republican congressman suddenly busy pandering to the “tea party” right wing, or Linda McMahon, the wife of pro wrestling hypemeister Vince McMahon and until recently CEO of their World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

I have been checking in with Beyond Chron readers from time to time on the McMahon candidacy. She vows to spend as much as $50 million of the nearly billion dollars in personal wealth she and Vince have accumulated since taking their company public in 1999. And though she still trails Simmons, let alone Blumenthal, she is the figure in this race who personifies the bread-and-circuses pathologies of late-empire American culture and politics.

Early on, McMahon’s opponents put undue resources into viral YouTube clips of such lowbrow Masterpiece Theatre gems as her son-in-law, wrestler Triple H, simulating sex with a corpse, and Linda herself kicking an announcer in the cojones. These attempts to embarrass someone incapable of embarrassment only play into the faux-populist hands of the Nutmeg State’s direct descendent of P.T. Barnum.

In her first unfiltered exposure to the voters on Sunday’s Face the State, the panel of Connecticut reporters – in admirable contrast with network TV cream puffs Matt Lauer (NBC) and Kate Snow (ABC) – focused on lax occupational health and safety standards of the company co-founded and operated by McMahon (who, of course, sports the additional gall of opposition to health-care reform).

During the McMahons’ domination of their business, hundreds of wrestlers have died young from drug abuse and brain damage; they are the canaries in the coal mine of a generation of athletes from the steroid era of legitimate sports. Linda McMahon acquitted herself poorly on these questions, and overall exuded a painfully unsenatorial bearing – but that will quickly pass in the Republicans’ euphoria over Scott Brown and in a new flurry of slick McMahon campaign commercials. (The Face the State interview is viewable at http://www.wfsb.com/facethestate/index.html.)

McMahon, who is no Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jesse Ventura, is best understood as the banal corporate face of one of the sleaziest operations in the land, but also one nurtured over the years by Connecticut’s political establishment – former Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker is a charter member of the WWE board of directors. (Citing their long friendship, Weicker had endorsed Dodd before he dropped out.)

Where Linda is most shaky to the tea-baggers is in Republican bona fides; the record shows that she is a bipartisan money-grubber. Nearly half of her political donations over the years have been to Democrats, including contributions to Rahm Emanuel’s congressional campaigns in Illinois. In something of an “I didn’t inhale” moment, McMahon explained those at a campaign appearance – captured on a truly illuminating YouTube segment – as mere costs of doing business, which were “not politically motivated.”

It is not known whether Emanuel, now President Obama’s Chief of Staff, returned the favor by being instrumental in the Nobel Laureate’s disgraceful decision to provide WWE’s Tribute to the Troops, a Bob Hope-style holiday special of patriotic gore on NBC, with the imprimatur of a taped presidential greeting to the men and women in uniform in Afghanistan.

But the apotheosis of McMahon’s genius for strange bedfellows is none other than Joe Lieberman, lightning rod for all things Democratic, independent, and just plain perverse in Connecticut politics. In 2002 Lieberman, a champion of “family values,” was on the advisory board of the Parents Television Council, which had to pay $3.5 million to WWE to settle a lawsuit after PTC’s president, Brent Bozell, spearheaded a pressure campaign on advertisers to boycott WWE programming. PTC had made defamatory statements falsely holding WWE responsible for the deaths of four children.

Yet by 2006 Linda McMahon and her husband were donating $2,000 to Lieberman’s Senate re-election campaign. Why, she was asked on Face the State.

“Ideology,” McMahon answered.

Irvin Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, blogs at https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com.


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