Archive for October, 2010



Linda McMahon Uses Stephanie in Another New Commercial. Did Mom Teach Daughter to Lie to Congress?

Stephanie McMahon Levesque, wife of wrestler “Triple H” and daughter of Linda McMahon, extols her mom in a new campaign commercial aimed at eroding Linda’s nearly 2-to-1 deficit to Connecticut Senate race opponent Richard Blumenthal among female voters.

Against that backdrop, I just thought I’d republish my August 24 post, “Did Linda McMahon’s Daughter Commit Perjury in Her Congressional Testimony?” See below

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

Originally published here on July 9 under the headline, “Now Don’t You Go Accusing Linda McMahon’s Daughter of Lying to Congress …” See also “Concussions? I Don’t Remember No Concussions,” July 10, https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/concussions-i-dont-remember-no-concussions-2/, and “More Concussions, You Say? I Don’t Remember No Concussions,” July 12, https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/more-concussions-you-say-i-don%E2%80%99t-remember-no-concussions/.

On December 14, 2007, Stephanie McMahon Levesque was interviewed by staff investigators of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The session was among several involving top executives and contractors of World Wrestling Entertainment – including Stephanie’s father Vince McMahon and mother Linda McMahon. The investigation had been prompted by the June 2007 double murder/suicide of WWE star Chris Benoit.

True to family form, Linda played the buttoned-down corporate CEO in her interview, while Vince played the royal asshole in his. Stephanie, for her part, gave grossly misleading testimony about the concussions sustained by their company’s performers.

For example:

Q  Okay.   Have  ringside  doctors  or  treating  physicians  ever  diagnosed  a  wrestler  with  a concussion  and  reported  this  to  WWE?

A  That  I  am  aware  of,  no.   There  was  a  doctor  who  issued  a  warning  to  us,  you  know,  that  this  person  could  develop  a  concussion  but  currently  didn’t  have  signs  of  it,  and  that  person  never  wound  up  developing  one.

Q  Okay.   Are  you  aware  of  any  times  where  wrestlers  have  I  guess  selfreported ‐‐ where  wrestlers  have  selfreported  to  you  that  they  received  concussions  and  this  information  came  from  the  wrestler  rather  than  a  treating  doctor?

A  Not  that  I  am  aware  of,  but  I  am  not  saying  that  that  never  happened.

Q  Right.

A  Just  not  involved  me.

Q  Okay.   All  right.   Are  you  aware  of  any  incident  where  a  wrestler  in  a  match  received  a  concussion?

A  No.

Q  Does  WWE  have  a  policy  for  time  off  if  talent  suffers  a  concussion?

A  Yes.   We  go  with  the  recommendation  of  the  treating  physician.

Q  Okay.   How  about  in  cases  where  talent  has  suffered  multiple  concussions?

A  Well,  in  the  case ‐‐ the  only  case  I  can  think  of,  this  person  was ‐‐ actually,  I  think  he  is  still  under  contract  to  us.   And  he  suffered  a  number  of  concussions  and  has  wound  up,  I  think,  forming  a  foundation  to  look  into  concussions.   But  clearly  he  no  longer  performed  for  us.   We  are  not  going  to  put  anybody  in  danger.

Q  Okay.   You  have  indicated  that  you  are  not  aware  of  a  case  where  a  wrestler  has  received  a  concussion.   Do  you  believe  that  WWE  wrestlers  are  at  risk  for  concussions  because  of  the  nature  of  their  work?

A  I  think,  under  certain  circumstances,  yes.

Q  Can  you  describe  those  circumstances?

A  Well,  inherently  any  move  can  be  done  incorrectly.   You  really  are  giving  your  life  to  the  person  that  you  are  in  the  ring  with.   It  is  much  more  than  guys  just  punching  each  other.   Every  move,  even  a  simple  body  slam  could  go  wrong,  and  you  could  land  on  your  head.   That,  in  and  of  itself,  is  very,  you  know,  it  is  a  very  skilled  move  to  do.   You  wouldn’t  think  it  just  watching  it,  but  it  is.   So,  I  mean,  I  would  think  if  anything  went  wrong,  certainly  you  would  be  at  risk  for  concussion.

Q  Would  a  chair  shot  to  the  head  or  a  pile  driver  on  an  unpadded  surface,  would  those  present  concussion  risks?

A  Not ‐‐ I  mean,  a  pile  driver,  no,  because  your  head never  actually  hits.   And  a  chair  shot,  there  is  a  particular  way  to  hit  someone  with  a  chair.   And  again,  if  you  screwed  up  and  hit  someone  wrong,  then  sure.   Or  if  you  slipped  on  a  pile  driver  and  let  somebody  go,  absolutely.

Q  Okay.

A  But  the  moves  as  they  are  supposed  to  be  performed,  I  would  say,  no.

Q  Okay.

A  And  mistakes  do  happen,  certainly,  as  in  life.

Q  So  if  you  had  an  unskilled  wrestler  and  there  was  some  concern  that ‐‐ you  have  described,  I  think,  Hulk  Hogan  as  not  a  very  good  wrestler.

A  Right.   Which  I  didn’t  really  realize  I  was  on  the  record  and  wasn’t  thinking  about  that.   But  yes,  he ‐‐

There’s much more in the full 138-page transcript – viewable at http://muchnick.net/stephanietranscript.pdf – and I’ll get to the related topics in the next posts.

As Mike Benoit, Chris’s father, notes, Stephanie’s mush-mouthed testimony is especially interesting in light of the remembrance this week, on the Cageside Seats blog, of Chavo Guerrero’s terrifying 2004 concussion. Stephanie was among those who came to the ring to check on Guerrero.

“It appears,” Mike Benoit says with artful understatement, “that the whole family has selective memory.”

***

Thirteen months after Stephanie McMahon Levesque’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee interview, Congressman Henry Waxman punted the transcript, along with hundreds of other pages of background material, to the White House, on a Friday afternoon during the Bush-Obama interregnum, and called it a day. Waxman never explained why he sat on the information for more than a year and never held public hearings.

The same month Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell appointed Linda McMahon to the state Board of Education, and her political career was off and running.

And this week Stephanie’s husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his arm.

Not that we’re accusing him of being a steroid user. Or his wife of lying to Congress.

Irv Muchnick

George Will, ‘The Guy With the Bow Tie,’ Now Likes Linda McMahon, But It Wasn’t Always So

George Will, the syndicated columnist and television pundit, fancies himself the conscience of conservatism. But his endorsement of Linda McMahon in his newly published column on the Connecticut Senate race proves only the limits of conscience in politics.

Will didn’t always think so highly of the McMahon family. When Vince and Linda McMahon in 2001 launched their XFL football league, Will called it “God’s way of telling Amerca it has too much leisure time.” Will also wrote that, more than football, “the XFL will offer puerile vulgarity, vicarious danger and derivative manliness for couch potatoes, particularly those in the coveted (by advertisers) category of 12-to-24-year-old males.”

(The full George Will column from 2001 can be viewed at http://townhall.com/columnists/GeorgeWill/2001/01/28/lord_help_us,_the_xfl_is_getting_ready_to_rumble/page/full/.)

Asked about Will’s comments in a televised interview, Vince McMahon – playing the anti-elitist as only he can – replied, “You mean the guy with the bow tie?”

Will’s words above apply equally to Linda McMahon’s Senate bid. Just as the XFL was World Wrestling Entertainment’s brand extension into legit sports, her $50 million “self-funded” campaign is WWE’s brand extension into electoral politics. It is just as flawed and just as doomed to failure.

George Will, the conscience of conservatism, would be writing exactly that today except for one thing: its partisan inconvenience.

Irv Muchnick

Mike Benoit Press Conference Transcript

The transcript of the press conference in Hartford on Monday by Mike Benoit, the father of dead World Wrestling Entertainment performer Chris Benoit, can be viewed at http://muchnick.net/mikebenoittranscript.pdf.

I tried to clean up as many typos as I could catch in the draft I was given, but I probably missed some.

Irv Muchnick

Author Muchnick Interviewed Thursday on Connecticut Radio

Irvin Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, will be interviewed by host Larry Rifkin on “Talk of the Town” on WATR Radio, 1320 AM, in Waterbury, Connecticut, on Thursday, October 28, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time (9:30 a.m. Pacific).

The live interview, scheduled for 15 minutes, also will stream at http://watr.com.

Audio of Muchnick’s previous interviews with Rifkin can be accessed at these links:

(AUGUST 31) http://muchnick.net/rifkin8-31-10.mp3

(MARCH 24) http://rifkinradio.com/podcast_blog/?p=344

Stand Up for Pro Wrestling Reform

The Linda McMahon campaign for Senate in Connecticut is deader than one of the scores of World Wrestling Entertainment performers who expired under the age of 50 on her watch as a top executive of WWE and its predecessor company.

The Senate race was over as soon as Linda’s tightly controlled $50 million “self-funded” media campaign got caught in a spontaneous moment, and she wound up fumbling simple questions about her position on the minimum wage. In their first debate, her Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal, then held his own; in the second and third, he buried her in questions about her role in the occupational health and safety record of her workers, and related matters.

Since Vince McMahon, Linda’s husband, is an impetuous loose cannon, I don’t doubt that he launched the “Stand Up for WWE” campaign – culminating in a cut-rate-ticketed “Fan Appreciation Night” and TV shoot in Connecticut – with the goal of boosting her campaign, which is on life support. The WWE dirty tricks department will have to reach deep into its bag to come up something heinous enough about Blumenthal to turn around the poll numbers, which include a nearly 2-to-1 margin of female voters against the female candidate. But it’s a conundrum: one of the reasons Linda2010.com ran out of gas was that people there got sick and tired of her wall-to-wall attack commercials on TV and almost daily junk mail.

Now that the electoral handwriting is on the wall, I think there’s another purpose behind “Stand Up for WWE” besides saving the unsaveable Linda. The Senate campaign has exposed company business practices in a way that even the 2007 Chris Benoit double murder/suicide could not. The state of Connecticut is already investigating WWE for abuse of the independent contractor classification in its employment of benefit-free wrestlers who work nonstop around the year. (They also are restrained from taking their services elsewhere, or even suing WWE for wrongful injury or death.)

And after the election, there will be calls to reopen the Congressional investigation of WWE that ground to a mysterious halt just before Linda McMahon, complete with a doctored resume including a false line about a degree in education, began her short and undistinguished public-service career with a nomination to the state Board of Education in January 2009.

Well, anyway – I just made a call to reopen the investigation. Now it is up to others, including wrestling fans, to join me in holding prospective senator Richard Blumenthal’s feet to the fire on some of the issues that are helping get him elected, after an opposition campaign funded by wrestling industry profits scared him to within an inch of his political life.

The general public, of course, will tend to be quick to turn the page and let the McMahons slink back to corporate profiteering obscurity. The most intelligent wrestling fans, however, are uniquely equipped with the information on how the pandemic of wrestler deaths is a serious public health nuisance, one resonating throughout sports and society. It’s time to broaden out the discussion from the shorthand of “wrestlers and steroids,” and talk about the whole cocktail: the abuse of painkillers and other prescription pharmaceuticals – as well as the brain trauma syndrome in football in particular, which has risen closer to the top of the agenda thanks to the tireless work of ex-wrestler Chris Nowinski, with an assist from Mike Benoit, Chris Benoit’s father.

Some people think pro wrestling is a bad joke and maybe they’re right. But joke or not, I know there’s nothing funny about needless death in scripted junk entertainment; I also know that the implications of the phenomenon say something ugly about American society in 2010. In their heart of hearts, most people reading this agree. Let’s all of us do something after November 2 about reforming the out-of-control pro wrestling industry.

 

Irv Muchnick

Recommended Reading: Pro Wrestling Torch on Vince McMahon’s Election Publicity Stunt

“Sec. of State Bysiewicz ‘overturns’ ban on WWE apparel at voting locations, Vince McMahon claims victory by ‘making’ Bysiewicz ‘back down'”

James Caldwell, Pro Wrestling Torch, http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/WWE_News_3/article_44829.shtml

Mike Benoit in Connecticut Media Notes

Local television coverage of yesterday’s news conference in Hartford with Mike Benoit, the father of dead wrestler Chris Benoit, is at these links:

 

 

On last night’s edition of the national Fox News cable network’s On the Record, Greta Van Susteren did not ask Linda McMahon about any of the substance of Mike Benoit’s injection into the Connecticut Senate campaign. Instead, Van Susteren gave McMahon an unfiltered shot at the “reprehensible” tactics of her opponent, Richard Blumenthal.

In his print coverage for Hearst newspapers this morning, reporter Brian Lockhart touches briefly on Linda McMahon’s despicable 2007 interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, in which she attempted to blame the Benoit family tragedy on an unsubstantiated rumor that 7-year-old Daniel Benoit had a medical condition known as Fragile X Syndrome. The Connecticut Post version of Lockhart’s story, at http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Father-of-dead-wrestler-campaigning-against-722433.php, reports:

Linda McMahon in 2007 told “Good Morning America” that she understood Benoit’s son suffered from a mental disorder “and I really do believe … what we are seeing now is strife and tension in the home dealing with a child who has this mental difficulty and the parents really weren’t equipped to deal with it. Linda McMahon in 2007 told “Good Morning America” that she understood Benoit’s son suffered from a mental disorder “and I really do believe … what we are seeing now is strife and tension in the home dealing with a child who has this mental difficulty and the parents really weren’t equipped to deal with it.” Linda McMahon in 2007 told “Good Morning America” that she understood Benoit’s son suffered from a mental disorder “and I really do believe … what we are seeing now is strife and tension in the home dealing with a child who has this mental difficulty and the parents really weren’t equipped to deal with it.”

The World Wrestling Entertainment-stoked Fragile X story, complete with video, audio, and transcripts of Linda McMahon on GMA and related material, is all over the archives of this blog – use the search box on the right. No episode better illustrates the cold-hearted corporate cynicism of this candidate for the United States Senate.

 

Irv Muchnick

Richard Blumenthal on Pro Wrestling Regulation

In a statement issued to Daniela Altimari of the Hartford Courant (see http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2010/10/blumenthal-on-wrestling-regula.html):

“Dick Blumenthal believes that strong oversight and enforcement of existing laws is critical. Connecticut’s next United States Senator should examine what additional protections will be needed. Dick Blumenthal will do that, if he is elected.”

 

Irv Muchnick

More Mike Benoit Coverage — Plus This Blog’s 2008 Story About WWE’s FBI Agent Private Investigator

For more on today’s Hartford media appearance by Mike Benoit, Chris’s father, see “Father of dead wrestler criticizes McMahon, WWE,” by Mark Pazniokas, Connecticut Mirror, http://ctmirror.org/story/8163/father-dead-wrestler-criticizes-mcmahon-wwe.

One of the things Benoit mentioned was World Wrestling Entertainment’s hiring of a private investigator in Georgia, an ex-FBI agent named Cliff Cormany, who tried to pass himself off to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office as a representative of the Benoit family.

I told that story in a May 15, 2008, post on this blog, which can be viewed at https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/archive-51508-ex-fbi-agent-working-for-wwe-poses-as-benoit-family-investigator/.

 

Irv Muchnick

Connecticut Newspapers’ Blog Coverage of Chris Benoit’s Father in Connecticut

“Michael Benoit, father of former WWE star Chris Benoit, calls for greater regulation of wrestling industry; does Dick Blumenthal agree?”, Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant, http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2010/10/michael-benoit-father-of-forme.html

“Chris Benoit’s Father Points Finger At Linda McMahon,” Rick Green, Hartford Courant, http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2010/10/wwe-chris-benoits-father-point.html

“Dead wrestler’s dad hopes Senator Blumenthal will clean-up wrestling,” Brian Lockhart, Hearst newspapers, http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2010/10/25/dead-wrestlers-dad-hopes-senator-blumenthal-will-clean-up-wrestling/

“Benoit’s father criticizes McMahon and WWE,” Ted Mann, New London Day, http://www.theday.com/article/20101025/NWS12/101029759/1018


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