Archive for April 10th, 2010

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (4th in a Series — New London Day With Intriguing Follow-Up Story)

Ted Mann and The Day have published a coda to the story of the advance tip to steroid doctor George Zahorian that Linda McMahon directed in a 1989 memo.

See “Former prosecutor denies alerting McMahon to steroid probe,” http://www.theday.com/article/20100410/INTERACT010403/100419990.

Ted Mann’s latest raises an intriguing new set of questions, and I’ll get to them shortly.

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (3rd in a series – The Wrestling Media Know Where the Bodies Are Buried)

” [Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1`, 1989

The hard-working James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch used the occasion of Ted Mann’s New London Day scoop to sift the archives for more on the upshot of Linda McMahon’s memo.

As World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt helpfully emphasized to Mann, “At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

Caldwell, in his report at http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/WWE_News_3/article_40539.shtml, has republished a passage of Torch coverage of Vince McMahon’s 1994 trial for conspiracy to distribute steroids – McMahon was acquitted. The following is from the testimony of Zahorian at his own trial three years earlier – he was convicted.

He (Zahorian) said later in 1989 he received a message to call (Pat) Patterson. When he called Patterson back, Patterson told him to call back on a pay phone. “He told me there was an investigation going on that concerned Titan Sports.” Because of the investigation, he said Patterson told him he and McMahon wanted him to destroy all information of phone numbers and information on wrestlers. “He said it may be something minor, but I should be careful. He said after this was over we could meet and continue with our relationship.” Zahorian said he took all records for wrestlers and put them in a storage area in the basement of his office building and eventually brought them to his lawyer’s office for protective custody.

Meanwhile, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter continues his headlong plunge to irrelevance. The dean of wrestling journalists, he is now more workaholic than hard worker. The workaholism is almost completely in service of his image – a mix of guru and diva.

In his web update, at http://www.f4wonline.com/content/view/12941/, Meltzer makes two basic points: (1) This is all old news, and (2) Whatever flows from this – Linda McMahon getting ten-to-life or her election as secretary-general of the United Nations – be sure to remember that he told us so.

How sad to read someone capable of so much better, who knows and says scads but communicates little, because he grasps the intricacies of the cradle piledriver better than he understands journalistic and human context.

In the course of damning Ted Mann’s report with faint praise, Meltzer asserts that there is absolutely nothing new here. Meltzer is dead wrong. The pressure of the impending coverage forced McMahon to release the full, unredacted version of her 1989 memo to Patterson, which now includes for the first time the specific language about how one of the McMahon company lawyers found out about the federal investigation during a social encounter with a Justice Department prosecutor.

Over at Meltzer’s Internet radio update (available to subscribers only), he rambles almost incoherently for more than 15 minutes. At around the 3:00 mark of his conversation with fellow wrestling journalist Bryan Alvarez, Meltzer mentions in passing – then quickly and characteristically pooh-poohs – this nugget:

What happened – as I remember the trial – Patterson called from a pay phone and told Zahorian to destroy all the records of anything involving WWF wrestlers, and also I believe he was destroying records when the feds picked him up.

Well, glad Meltzer cleared up that there’s nothing there!

NEXT: Part 4 – No “Sunday bombshell” from Ted Mann, but your humble blogger fills the void with a little more detail on “the defense attorney, the fixer, and the Playboy model.”

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (2nd in a series – ‘The Day’ After)

” [Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1`, 1989

Again, hats off to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day for his breakthrough report “McMahon warned steroid doctor of investigation,” http://www.theday.com/article/20100409/NWS12/100409727/1017.

I want to dispose quickly of the best information we have on the inside baseball of the publication of this story on Saturday rather than Sunday.

Most likely Linda McMahon operatives knew they faced bad news that could turn horrendous, and being the feisty “outsiders” that we all know they are, they turned to one of the oldest tricks in the Beltway playbook: the “Friday evening news dump.” You initiate release of the story at the onset of the weekend, when journalists are already checked out; by the time the non-witless get their wits, the short attention span of the witless has carried the day.

Whether the leak came from the McMahon camp or someone else, The Day’s hand was forced after Glenn Thrush and Politico.com beat Mann late Friday afternoon with an inferior version of the same story. See “Memo: McMahon tipped steroid doctor,” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/35599.html.

(By the way, Congressman Henry Waxman used a variation of the same trick when he chose Friday, January 2, 2009, as the day to punt to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy his voluminous findings on the inadequacies of World Wrestling Entertainment drug policies.)

In the age of the Internet and the 24/7 news cycle, I’m not so sure the Friday bad-news dump is a gambit that works as well as it used to.

Anyway, we’re all about to find out.

NEXT: Part 3 – The Wrestling Media Know Where Linda McMahon’s Bodies Are Buried

Irv Muchnick


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