Archive for May 27th, 2010

Let’s Match Up the Records of ‘War Liar’ Blumenthal and ‘Panderer’ McMahon

I think everyone will agree that I have sucked up quite enough to Chris Powell of the Manchester Journal Inquirer. His latest column, “Which will hurt more: ‘war liar’ or ‘panderer’?”,, has the Richard Blumenthal vs. Linda McMahon dynamic only half-right.

There’s no quarrel with this thought: “Here’s betting that while they make this year’s U.S. Senate campaign in Connecticut the most poisonous in history, [the two mud-slinging points] largely cancel each other out.”

Nor with this: “With such tempting material for character assassination, the Senate campaign is sure to be waged mainly through sneering commercials on TV and radio, a stimulus plan for broadcasters, who are given their licenses on the public’s airwaves for free and then allowed to charge the country to have a democracy.”

But Powell stumbles into the same sound-bite simplicity he deplores when he lets McMahon’s business off the hook by calling it “grotesque,” and leaving it at that.

The problem with World Wrestling Entertainment isn’t that it’s grotesque, overly violent, or overly sexed. The problem with WWE — and with the Senate candidate made by it — isn’t that it’s “borderline-pornographic.” That’s the phrase used today by New York Times columnist Gail Collins, a variation on Powell’s “grotesque,” echoing that of Chris Hedges’ awful book, Empire of Illusion (see my review here). What’s with this “borderline” stuff, anyway? And who cares?

I’d like to hear a little talk about the structure, not the TV content, of McMahon’s business. More than a little talk — a little reporting. Her WWE’s jobs in Connecticut (which also come and go by the grace of corporate expansion and contraction, and without reference to the McMahon family’s windfall stock dividends, enabled by tax breaks) are a function of a no-benefits independent contractor work force of performers who drop dead in impossible numbers — proportions far exceeding those of rock stars or football or baseball players. But thanks to Vince and Linda McMahon’s money and political connections in both parties, and both inside Connecticut and inside the Washington Beltway, a Congressional investigation following the 2007 Chris Benoit murder-suicide fizzled.

The McMahons also arguably obstructed justice — engaged, if you will, in “borderline criminality” — decades after Blumenthal, like many others of his generation (including, apparently, Vince McMahon) used deferments to avoid military service in Vietnam. To his discredit, Blumenthal has played fast and loose with the truth about his military service. For Vince, his lack of any military service seems to be an almost uniquely untouched subject for lying.

This year, unless Connecticut journalists (including those supervised by Journal Inquirer managing editor Powell) get on the stick, another opportunity to clean up that sleazy industry will fizzle.

I say, let’s put up Richard Blumenthal’s record as state attorney general against Linda McMahon’s record as CEO of a publicly traded corporation with a billion-dollar market cap. I hold no brief for Blumenthal; that his record includes its quota, or more, of manipulation and grandstanding is a given.

But what we need here isn’t smackdown, folks. It’s straight-up.

Irv Muchnick

Muchnick Flashback — ‘Linda McMahon Campaign Coverage: A Guide for the Perplexed’

Originally published here on April 12.

TED MANN, New London Day: Broward County records reveal that Linda McMahon operated an international slave trade out of her husband Vince’s yacht, the Sexy Bitch, in Boca Raton, Florida.

IRV MUCHNICK, Wrestling Babylon Blog: As I show in my book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, the mainstream media focus too much on trivial issues. The real story here is how many slaves died in transit.

@jodilatina on Twitter: See the latest YouTube video of Linda wowing them at the Naugatuck Valley branch of the Ladies Aid & Missionary Society! Followed by Linda and Kate Snow in a pie-throwing contest on NBC’s Dateline!

ROB SIMMONS: When I was a CIA agent I helped coordinate several undercover operations to disrupt the slave trade.

PETER SCHIFF: The point is that we can’t grow the economy until we get government off the backs of slave traders.

RICK GREEN, Hartford Courant: Who wore the hotter-looking suit on Dateline – Linda or Kate Snow?

SUSAN BYSIEWICZ: I am eminently qualified to make legal rulings on the slave trade of the Republican from whom I received campaign contributions and whom I then endorsed for the state Board of Education, where she served even longer than I ran for governor.

BRIAN LOCKHART, Stamford Advocate: According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, it doesn’t matter.

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: As attorney general, I vigorously prosecuted Connecticut’s slave traders. As senator, I will do everything in my power to support them.

SUZAN BIBISI: This interview is over. Ms. McMahon is running behind schedule for her shoot on “The View.”

KEVIN RENNIE, Hartford Courant columnist and former state legislator: A slave trader with a slick media campaign vs. a guy who voted for card check when he was in the House of Representatives? No contest.

CHRIS HEALY, state Republican Party chair: What did you say, Kevin? Linda’s check to Suzan didn’t clear yet?

RAHM EMANUEL: President Obama supports our troops and I take campaign contributions from wherever I can find them. Anyone who thinks otherwise is fucking retarded.

LINDA McMAHON: I don’t remember any of this. It happened yesterday and we should be talking about the future not the past. WWE is constantly evolving its slave-trade practices. We need a senator who will incentivize small business with an independent-contractor work force and plenty of corporate tax breaks.

VINCE McMAHON: [unseen and unheard]

THE WASHINGTON POST: Poised and well-spoken, Linda McMahon makes for a surprisingly strong candidate. According to our exclusive inside industry source, George “The Animal” Steele, the allegations against WWE were dismissed back when he was still teaching PE at a Detroit high school.

DAVE MELTZER, Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Everything that everyone else has just said, I already knew.

JERRY McDEVITT, WWE lawyer: Not only have you implied that Linda McMahon became a near-billionaire – giving her the resources to run a self-funded $50 million campaign – via profits from a sleazy business. You are also casting innuendos that she may have been involved in criminal activity. I am researching whether these statements breach the “reckless disregard for the truth” libel standard of New York Times v. Sullivan….

LOWELL WEICKER, WWE board member: Stop it right now, all you ankle-biting midgets! I am in favor of health-care reform, except as it might apply to the occupational health and safety standards of this company. I have a solemn fiduciary responsibility to our stockholders, including me.

TOM DUDCHIK, Connecticut Capitol Report: Moosup police break up dog-fighting ring; mayor says “at least the curs had balls that clank, like Weicker”; click HERE for photos of the foxiest state TV news babes.

Irv Muchnick

Take The New York Times’ Gail Collins on Linda McMahon … PLEASE!

Today New York Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins (who once worked for the Hartford Courant) pulls out her joke book and legitimizes all the one-liners out there about the Senate candidacy of Linda McMahon.

See “Who Wants to Elect a Millionaire?”,

The main difference between Gail “Please Don’t Confuse Me With Maureen Dowd” Collins and Jerry “The King” Lawler, the sidekick announcer on Monday Night Raw, is that Lawler mostly knows what he’s talking about when he makes pro wrestling references.

If The Times wants to contribute to the national IQ, it can do some real reporting on World Wrestling Entertainment’s death pandemic, and history of sexual harassment (both hetero- and homosexual varieties) and obstruction of justice.

Irv Muchnick

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May 2010