Don’t Exaggerate Ulterior Motive of Martha Hart’s WWE Lawsuit

Though Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green’s Connecticut Confidential blog has covered my work generously, I disagree with the thrust of his post today, “McMahon Suit Has ‘Nothing To Do With Campaign’ Hmmm….,” http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2010/06/mcmahon-lawsuit-has-nothing-to.html.

I think Brother Rick is too caught up in generic skepticism with respect to the timing of the lawsuit filed by the widow of wrestler Owen Hart against Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment.

Commentators ill-serve voters who are trying to sort out all this stuff when they get themselves so deeply stuck in the game-within-the-game. Sure, Martha Hart could be deriving bonus pleasure out of sticking it to the McMahons while Linda is running for the Senate. And Mike Benoit, the father of Chris Benoit, flat-out stated in his recent guest column in the Courant that he wouldn’t mind if there were a particular consequence at the ballot box from his crusade to raise consciousness about brain injuries and the overall appalling health and safety standards at WWE.

That is not some kind of conflict of interest, however. It is confluence of interest.

If there’s evidence that Martha Hart, her attorneys, or their powerhouse public relations consultants, Hill & Knowlton, are receiving sub rosa financial or in-kind support from McMahon’s political opponents, then that deserves to be exposed, in spades. But Green’s post offers no such evidence – only a suspicion that there’s a connection between the litigation and the Senate campaign.

Under the circumstances, he should spare us his hard-boiled and, in this case, empty cynicism. Does Green expect Hart to go to battle against a billion-dollar corporation while armed only with a popgun? The fact of the matter is that WWE is releasing a for-profit Hart family DVD that includes footage of Owen. Martha was not obliged to jeopardize her legal case by inaction, simply because doing something would collide with Linda’s personal electoral agenda; and bully for Martha if the coincidence can be exploited to call more attention to the cluster of deaths on the former WWE chief executive’s watch.

To be clear, I am not tagging Rick Green as a Linda McMahon apologist. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has already used that Manichean straw man in refusing to address my specific criticisms of elements of his coverage of the Benoit murder-suicide, and it is a tiresome defense. My only enemy is shallow analysis.

The essence of Martha Hart’s grievance against Linda McMahon should not be dismissed because it is coincident with a Senate race. Rather, it should be intensified. It’s called accountability.

Irv Muchnick

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