Archive for January, 2010



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.

Linda McMahon Chronicles: Strange Tale of the Stamford Police and the ‘Benoit Wikipedia Hacker’ (Part 1)

INTRODUCTION

Chapter 9 of CHRIS & NANCY, my book about the Benoit murder-suicide, delves into the bizarre tale of the 19-year-old Stamford resident and UConn student who posted on Wikipedia the nugget that Nancy Benoit was dead – some 14 hours before the family’s bodies were discovered.

For the special edification of those following the U.S. Senate race of Linda McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, it is time to review that tableau and its implications. Toward that end, this piece introduces a new multi-part blog series.

Matthew T. Greenberg, now either 22 or about to turn that age, was not involved in the Benoit crimes. And indeed, his Wikipedia edit may have been nothing more than an eerie coincidence. Greenberg’s significance is that the police in Stamford (where WWE headquarters also happen to reside) went out of their way not to press the key questions of how and where he acquired his possibly accidentally accurate information.

To show the full extent of Stamford PD’s bungling, I had to go all the way to the “courthouse steps” of an appeal hearing at the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, before the city’s corporation counsel finally coughed up the videotape of the shoddy interrogation of Greenberg. That footage is now viewable on my YouTube channel, http://youtube.com/WrestlingBabylon.

Just as Greenberg surely was not involved in the Benoit rampage itself, neither was WWE. Vince McMahon didn’t do it. Nor did Nancy’s goofy previous wrestler-husband. Or the one-armed man from The Fugitive. Or the butler.

However, this billion-dollar publicly traded corporation did heavily manage the account of what it knew and when it knew it. And the thesis of CHRIS & NANCY is that this backstory goes a good distance toward explaining the overall death pandemic in an industry whose mega-profits are underwriting Linda McMahon’s $50 million campaign for high public office.

The Wikipedia Hacker subplot of the Benoit story emerged in the context of the two different timelines of Benoit events promulgated by WWE. One was published on the company’s entertainment website and quickly expunged. The other was published on the corporate business website.

What exactly did happen with Matthew Greenberg? That is not something CHRIS & NANCY presumes to answer. In addition, the book doesn’t explore why Stamford PD was so passive and inept. For all I know, it was just another day at the office, despite the fact that the Benoit case was the focus of frenzied international media coverage.

But with Linda McMahon’s Senate candidacy, it is now worthwhile at least to put out there for deeper consideration a few other aspects of the biggest public relations crisis in the history of one of Stamford’s and Connecticut’s leading corporate lights.

For example: Dan Malloy, the mayor of Stamford, is now running for governor. Like another Democrat, Susan Bysiewicz, Malloy last year endorsed Governor Jodi Rell’s appointment of Linda McMahon to the state Board of Education. (Though, unlike Bysiewicz, Malloy does not show up on the Republican McMahon’s list of campaign contributions.)

Read on and enjoy. Or not. If you have a tip, you can send it to tips@muchnick.net.

Irv Muchnick

WWE Stars Chris Jericho And ‘Hurricane’ Helms Arrested

TMZ.com was the first to report that World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers Chris Jericho and Gregory “Hurricane” Helms were arrested for public intoxication early Wednesday in Erlanger, Kentucky, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. The mug shots of these WWE employees — excuse me, independent contractors — can be viewed  at http://www.tmz.com/2010/01/28/wwe-star-chris-jericho-arrested-in-kentucky/.

Chris Jericho was one of the late Chris Benoit’s best friends. But that didn’t keep Jericho from joining the cast of CNN’s Larry King Live to yuk it up in a pre-WrestleMania promo appearance in March 2008, nine months after Benoit murdered his wife and their seven-year-old son, and killed himself. Here’s an excerpt of the LexisNexis transcript of King’s exchange with Vince McMahon, the WWE chairman and husband of current U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon:

KING: How is the business since the death of Chris?

MCMAHON: Business wise it’s excellent.

KING: Really? You weren’t affected at all?

MCMAHON: No. Not — certainly not in the short-term. You know, it’s one of those things that will live with you forever, you know what I mean?

And it could have happened to any company. It could have happened to any sports team. It certainly happens, you know, in the post office a lot or whatever. And it’s really, really…

(LAUGHTER)

Eight days before Chris Benoit went on his rampage, he had an exchange of bawdy text messages with Greg Helms. The latter’s contribution was, “[H]ow is a woman’s pussy like a warm toilet seat? — They both feel nice but u can’t help but wonder who was there before you!”

More recently Helms has bragged on Twitter about the joys of getting shit-faced drunk.

I know, I know … tabloid trash, as John Edwards used to say.

Irv Muchnick

Sports Concussions Reach the Connecticut Legislature

The Hartford Courant‘s Capitol Watch blog reports that the Democratic majority in the state Senate seeks to make Connecticut the third state in the nation — after Washington and Oregon — to pass legislation requiring more stringent protocols for student-athletes for concussions.

See http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2010/01/bill-intends-to-protect-studen.html.

That’s a long way from banning chair shots by the Nutmeg State’s biggest exporter of popular culture, World Wrestling Entertainment. But some would say it’s a start.

Irv Muchnick

‘Connecticut Newsmakers’ Makes None

I took a pass on commenting instantly on Linda McMahon’s appearance on Sunday’s Connecticut Newsmakers on NBC30 in Hartford. Interviewer Tom Monahan’s questions, especially regarding World Wrestling Entertainment health and safety issues, broke new ground, and his follow-up to self-serving answers was nonexistent.

James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch more than compensated for what others might term my atypical reticence.

In an analysis whose headline called this the former WWE co-owner’s “latest uninformed mainstream interview,” Caldwell wrote, “If there’s one thing McMahon has proven to be talented at during this Senate campaign, it’s answering an unsophisticated question with an unsophisticated answer.”

Caldwell article is viewable at http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/WWE_News_3/article_38474.shtml.

Irv Muchnick


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