Archive for July, 2010

Syllabus for Further Reading on Politico’s Story About Linda McMahon and the WWE Pedophile Scandal

Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman of Politico.com are the first journalists to take aboveground the story of Linda McMahon’s  management of the pedophile scandal at her World Wrestling Entertainment (then called the World Wrestling Federation) in the early 1990s. See “Linda McMahon’s world of wrestling,” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/40476.html.

Politico left out significant swaths of the known old narrative. Smith and Haberman also filled in some spaces with important original reporting. I’ll comment in more specifics as we go along.

First, I want to point everyone to Tom Cole’s 1999 interview with Wrestling Perspective, which can be downloaded on the journal’s website (http://www.wrestlingperspective.com).

In addition, interested readers should review these posts at this blog:

Irv Muchnick

Newspaper Endorsement Scorecard: One More for Rob Simmons, One for Linda McMahon

Newspaper editorial endorsements seem to me a lot like book blurbs: ancient rituals whose translation into results is now more dubious than ever. Everyone does it because we haven’t come up with any better ideas, but you figure it can’t hurt.

If book blurbs meant anything, then my first book, Wrestling Babylon, would be a runaway bestseller instead of chugging along nicely in its second printing. After all, it was endorsed by the incomparable sportswriter Frank Deford (who lives in Connecticut, by the way).

But for those of you keeping score, two more Connecticut newspapers have published their endorsements in the Republican Senate primary. (The Hartford Courant had already broken the ice by putting its pick axe behind Rob Simmons, the former congressman and Senate frontrunner who hopes to be closing fast on the outside.)

The Register Citizen in Litchfield County endorsed Linda McMahon. I don’t agree that the editorial characterizes the candidate with complete accuracy, but I think its words make the case well: “Remove three irrelevant factors — Linda McMahon’s gender, her personal wealth, and the nature of the business that she built from scratch — and the sneering doubts that party insiders and the press raise about her would go away…. And let’s face it, World Wrestling Entertainment, whether we like it or watch it or not, is every bit a piece of modern Americana as NASCAR or American Idol.” See http://registercitizen.com/articles/2010/07/30/opinion/doc4c52529634922216218878.txt.

The Day in New London likes Simmons. This is noteworthy, according to the impish Connecticut Capitol Report, because The Day “stiffed” Simmons in his losing 2006 bid for reelection to his House seat. See http://www.theday.com/article/20100730/OP01/307309907/-1/op.

Neither editorial mentions death in pro wrestling.

Irv Muchnick

Small Correction on Missy Hyatt Statement

I understand that I was mistaken in saying that Missy Hyatt’s statement about the Dawn Marie/Wrestlers Rescue situation was posted by her at a forum called Captured Beauty. I am deleting that reference from an earlier post.

I saw the statement via a link with traffic to this blog. The statement is authentic, but someone on the Captured Beauty forum, not Missy Hyatt, was reposting it from elsewhere.

Irv Muchnick

Commentator Suggests Linda McMahon Has Her Opponents’ Number: $50 Million

It would be foolish not to process the commentary by Ben Davol at NBCConnecticut.com, “A Senate Race Like No Other” (http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics/Commentary-A-Senate-Race-Like-No-Other-99545579.html). Here’s the money quote:

The reality of all this is that the next Senator from Connecticut will be Mrs. McMahon. The Blumenthal campaign and others will bash away at Mrs. McMahon’s business the WWE. It is a losing strategy. The facts are this. The reason Linda has so much money is because millions of people, voters, like the WWE. Further, the McMahons got their money the old fashioned way, they earned it.

Linda will win the primary and then go head to head with Mr. Blumenthal. Problem is neither of them wants to speak without layers of handlers, prepared questions and a totally controlled environment. Advantage Linda. Her campaign will savage Mr. Blumenthal over his record by turning good to bad and day to night. The McMahon message machine will unleash on the Blumenthal campaign a deluge akin to the ferocity and regularity of the waves at Waimea Bay.

Sadly though on November third Mrs. McMahon will become what all her supporters despise, an insider.

Irv Muchnick

Hartford Courant Endorses Linda McMahon’s Opponent in Republican Primary

With leaps of logic that make wrestling storylines seem downright Cartesian by comparison, the Hartford Courant has published a reluctant endorsement of reluctant candidate Rob Simmons over Linda McMahon for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. See http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-primary-senate-gop-0729-20100729,0,5803723.story.

Bully for Rob Simmons.

Softening the blow, the Courant calls McMahon a “hard-nosed, engaging entertainment tycoon with a captivating life story [that] is a breath of fresh air in Connecticut politics.”

Ah, but “WWE’s schlocky, off-color content is not everyone’s cup of tea, as one of her ads admits.”  She could be further damaged by “any new whiff of scandal,” the editorialist adds with exquisite abstraction.

To be fair, the Courant also questions McMahon’s “plan to help small business and create jobs that relies too heavily on tax cuts and a stripping away of regulations.”

Irv Muchnick

Mike Aldren’s Statement on Dawn Marie and Wrestlers Rescue

I wish to respond to Dawn Marie’s open letter regarding Wrestlers Rescue which you published as a solo news item on your website earlier this week. As my name was cited twice within her letter, I hope that you will afford me the same forum to speak publicly that was afforded to her.

For the last three years Dawn Marie has promoted Wrestlers Rescue as a charity to raise monies to help and support the health care needs of retired professional wrestlers. During that time Dawn has sent me numerous emails asking my help to spread word of her fund raising activities through my writings relating to this project. I duly obliged in most instances.

One of the primary benefactors was to be journeymen wrestler Dr. Death Steve Williams who sadly succumbed to cancer in December, 2009. Shortly after Doc’s passing I asked Dawn what she planned to do with the thousands of dollars she had raised—whether that would be in terms of covering funeral expenses for the family or a talked about trust fund for Doc’s son.

Dawn told me on-the-record in a January email, “We are talking with the family and trying to figure out the best way to use the dollars that weren’t used.”

I asked Dawn again a few weeks later and received no response.

A few weeks after that I asked Dawn whether Wrestlers Rescue was in fact a registered charity and what other retired wrestlers she planned to help in the future. Dawn replied and told me that her representative would be in touch soon and furnish me with the information I requested.

Dawn’s rep later turned out to be her New Jersey based attorney. I was shocked to learn from said attorney that Wrestlers Rescue, after three years in operation, was NOT a registered not-for-profit nor were they willing to open their finance books to the general public or the people in the wrestling business who have helped them raise thousands of dollars in the name of a dying man.*

And so here we are today.

While Dawn’s passion may be viewed by some as admirable, she as the founder and chair of her organization, should be more forthcoming regarding the monies she has raised, nor should she falsely represent herself as a charity, just as she did last week when quoted in a New York Times article.

Is she stating that up until now, the supposed charity has been for profit? If so, who has profited from the proceeds of Wrestlers Rescue? If not, then why has the non-registered charity been so secretive regarding the proceeds of the monies raised?

Who has actually benefited from anything done by Wrestlers Rescue up to now? Check delivered, bills paid, someone rescued?

I hope that Dawn Marie will address these reasonable questions in a public forum very soon.

Sincerely,

Mike Aldren
m.aldren@sky.com

More Thoughts on Dawn Marie, Wrestlers Rescue, And the ‘Wrestling Media’

Wrestlers Recue is at best amateurish, at worst fraudulent. If only the first, then perhaps Dawn Marie at one point had her heart in the right place, and perhaps she does still.

Though Wrestlers Rescue is not the solution, neither is it the problem. (Incidentally, I’ve seen the organization’s title both with and without an apostrophe even on its own site; from now on, I plan to go consistently without.)

The problem is that pro wrestling, as a profession, is still organized feudally – even while pro wrestling, as an industry, has essentially concentrated in the hands of one company and one family, and become a huge global business. The McMahons are billionaires or close to it. Now Linda McMahon, who doesn’t come off like someone who would know an original idea if it clotheslined her, is spending $50 million to try to buy a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut. This is money generated by the blood, sweat, tears, and  in many cases very lives of hundreds of others, performers both inside and outside World Wrestling Entertainment itself.

No matter how well-intentioned, Wrestlers Rescue is doomed because it is based on the indie model: set up a table at a convention of mostly has-beens and never-weres, sign some autographs, sell some T-shirts, and hope that a few of the pennies trickle to a few of the many people out there who have been broken by this system, or just naturally fell on hard times.

It doesn’t compute, people. The entity with the resources to begin to make things significantly better, if not right, is WWE. The way to hold WWE and the McMahons to account is to speak the truth about what their naked ambition has wrought and what they need to do to fix it.

That brings me to the “wrestling media.” Where have all the full-time wrestling journalists been on this story? Not just the rise and fall of Wrestlers Rescue, but also the scrutiny of WWE policies and practices? I don’t mean by this florid columns wringing your hands or showing off how smart or cynical you are, how you see through PR and also see that nothing can be done about it. I mean investigation and analysis that are persistent, clearly communicative, and at times inconvenient.

From where I sit, I’ll tell you where wrestling journalists seem to have been. They put more energy into climbing over each other to be the first, by five minutes, to post “spoilers” of prerecorded Raws and SmackDowns than they do into educating their readers on the McMahon family’s push for temporal power – and how, by adding real value to public discussion, fans can play a constructive role in reforming the industry’s appalling occupational health and safety standards.

They have been profiles in caution. Here’s hoping one or two will discover the spine to do something  more than just report the next spinebuster.

Irv Muchnick

Missy Hyatt on Dawn Marie

Below is a statement Missy Hyatt, another former wrestling personality, issued about the Wrestlers Rescue controversy.

Irv Muchnick

***************

I hate how so many people jumped on the band wagon that Dawn is a fraud before they ever allowed her a forum to defend herself. I’m a personal friend of Dawn, so naturally I will defend her. People who are bashing Dawn forget to realize the expense of legal fees, corporation fees, phones, & misc. to maintain a charity . Guess who swallowed any losses & upstart fees to Wrestlers Rescue? DAWN!!!! What ever profits that trickled in with ebay sales, auctions, went in to some holding account. I know for a fact that Steve Williams was sent approximately $5000.00 to help off set mounting medical expenses prior to his untimely death. I know an additional $2000 was donated in conjunction from the Cauliflower Alley Club.

I am very upset that everybody who is associated with Dawn was lumped in as thieves or con artist on various message boards without anybody asking for a statement or any proof. To my knowledge, only one person in the wrestling business decided to distance them self based on the recent negative article that was circulating.

When Dawn filed for the 501(c)(3) paper work to become a non profit charity it needed a corporate structure to be shown in the paper work. This is why I am listed as secretary. I started all of that paperwork before having it out sourced to an attorney to be completed.

The 501(c)(3) filling is a long tedious headache of paper work to fill out and file. I believe it took Dawn almost a year to have it all sorted & filed. The actual 501(c)(3) company is listed as Pro Wrestling Releif, (Dawn already had Wrestlers Rescue LLC organized and filed as a for Profit so we could begin the work that needed to be done.). I know Dawn personally shelled out a few thousand dollars in filing the 501(c)(3) paper work & the lawyer fees that took to complete it. As a 501(c)(3) they are eligible for tax free status and grants.

My participation within Wrestlers Rescue consisted of signing for free at Dawn’s convention, raffling a gift basket at the Paul E Normous memorial show, agreeing to be on the cancelled cruise, & helping Dawn gather the 501(c)(3) paper work [which was completed by a lawyer]. Various people accused me and others of having our hands in the cookie jar, despite NEVER handling or having any access to any money. I guess asking me about my participation would be too much of an oversight. To my knowledge, the participation of most wrestlers was either volunteering their services & donating memorabilia in order to be used for fund raising purposes. To call any wrestler a thief would be grossly inaccurate, since we never handled the financial aspects of the charity.

Tammy to my knowledge only did the convention, some miscellaneous errands, agreed to be on the cruise & be apart of a book deal that will be out for release in 2011. Tammy did not have any access to any money. Rather then mention what her actual participation was for Wrestlers Rescue, Tammy released statements that hurt everyone that has volunteered their services to Wrestlers Rescue. Though her comments may have hurt many of us on a personal & business level I can understand if she may have reacted out of fear and concern for herself. The way everyone had reacted and smeared this obvious smear campaign is scary.

Like I stated earlier, Dawn will release a statement showing her innocence & the lack of research done in the many malicious articles. My personal feelings are a friend defends each other until there is proof that shows that they are guilty. I’m defending Dawn until I see proof that she misappropriated funds. I believe in Dawn based on the character of her as a person, rather then just blindly throw accusations without her side of the story.

Missy Hyatt

1st Lady Of Wrestling

Connecticut Newspaper Editorial: Linda McMahon’s ‘Half-Truths and Outright Falsehoods’ on Steroids

“Steroid issue not going away”

Connecticut Post

http://www.ctpost.com/opinion/article/Steroid-issue-not-going-away-592567.php

Letter From a Lawyer And My Reply

Email to John C. Hegarty <jhegarty@jplawfirm.com>

Dear Mr. Hegarty:

I just received the message below, with your name but from the email address <Wrestlersrescue@aol.com>. I am responding to the listed email address of John C. Hegarty, associate, at the website of the Jasinski law firm.

If I am supplied with information about the registration of Wrestlers Rescue as a charitable organization, and/or information about funds received and paid out, I will immediately publish the information on my blog.

Note the correct spelling of my name.

Sincerely,

Irvin Muchnick

***************

July 27, 2010

Via

Webhost

RE:      Wrestlers’ Rescue

Dear Mr. Munchnick:

This law firm represents Wrestlers’ Rescue and its individual officers.  We have been asked to write this letter to you to address the false statements contained about our clients on your website.

On or before July 22, 2010 , you have and continue to publish articles and or blogs on your website https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/, which you alleged that money has been misappropriated by Wrestlers’ Rescue and/or its officers.  The statements are untrue and defamatory.  These statements were part of a calculated campaign to falsely spread propaganda in an effort to damage the credibility of Wrestlers’ Rescue and its officers.  Your publication of these statements, without regard to their truthfulness, is libelous and seeks to willfully injure for personal pecuniary gain. As such, your comments are defamatory per se. Your website and corresponding blogs also constitute tortious interference with the business and contractual relations with Wrestlers’ Rescue and its officers. As such, your conduct is actionable and exposes you to the imposition of compensatory as well as punitive damages.

To avoid a lawsuit, we demand immediate retraction from your website of these false and libelous statements.  Wrestlers’ Rescue demands that your retraction and correction be accompanied by a statement on your website in which you specifically repudiate your libelous statements.

This letter is your sole opportunity to remedy the injustice perpetrated upon each of these facilities by your actions.  Failure to remove this information no later than Friday, July 30th from your website and blog, publish the requested retraction on your website, and cease and desist from the aforementioned comments about Wrestlers’ Rescue, will result in a lawsuit against you.  Any such legal action will be accompanied by an Order to Show Cause demanding the immediate removal of the defamatory material from your website. Please govern yourself accordingly.

Sincerely yours,

JASINSKI, P.C.

JOHN C. HEGARTY

C:\Documents and Settings\john\My Documents\wrestlersrescuedefam.doc

Dawn Marie

Wrestlers Rescue
1162 Saint Georges Avenue
Suite 313
Avenel, NJ 07001
Office: (732)548-5875
Cell:(908) 565-0388
Email: WrestlersRescue@aol.com
Web: http://WrestlersRescue.Org



Irv’s Tweets

July 2010
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