About nine-tenths of the way through nearly 2,500 fawning words on Linda McMahon in Monday’s Washington Post, reporter Jason Horowitz writes that she explained the evolution of World Wrestling Entertainment’s drug-testing policies “in 1997 congressional testimony.”
Playing to perfection the role of passive mark to U.S. Senate candidate McMahon’s Über-Carny, Horowitz thus manages to whiff on the single most important aspect of her background. It is also very nearly the only important one: the role of her WWE in presiding over an industrial death mill that peaked with the 2007 double-murder/suicide of WWE star Chris Benoit.
Benoit and his wife Nancy were the ninth and tenth of 21 pro wrestling personalities who died before age 50 in the year 2007 alone. Yet the name Chris Benoit is nowhere to be found in the article.
And in lieu of 2007, we get 1997. That’s ancient history, folks!
Pointlessly, like any writer masking the fact that he doesn’t have the goods, the Post guy wastes space on style points, congratulating himself for skepticism. But it’s more like cynicism – empty, unaccompanied by knowledge or context. When they finish reading this one, the minions at McMahon campaign headquarters will be dancing in the streets of West Hartford.
McMahon and WWE, the Post tells us, “developed a primer for reporters,” and one example is this: “’How many wrestlers have died while under contract with the WWE?’ Only five!”
If this is the best that the leading newspaper in our nation’s capital can produce, then it’s no wonder the Republic is in trouble. Now we know why stories such as the Iran-Contra scandal and the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq played out right in front of the noses of elite journalists, who don’t find a way to report and analyze them until it’s too late.
The Post piece not only screws up by a decade the year of McMahon’s statements to Congress; it doesn’t even accurately identify her 2007 “testimony.” This wasn’t public-hearing testimony, but a many-holds-barred interview of McMahon by staff members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Benoit murder-suicide – an international news story that summer – had finally put the wrestling industry’s generation-long drug culture and death pandemic under some semblance of scrutiny, and this was one of two committees grabbing headlines in the backwash.
But after staff investigators grilled Linda McMahon, her husband Vince, and others, the chairman of the committee, Congressman Henry Waxman, decided he’d get more mileage from the syringe-made abscess on baseball player Roger Clemens’ ass cheek than from hearings on the occupational health and safety standards of a lowbrow entertainment industry. So Waxman instead sent a long letter, in the middle of the Bush-Obama interregnum, lambasting the McMahons and their phony “wellness policy,” to the White House Office of Drug Control Policy. And thereby washed his hands of the matter and effectively ended the investigation.
Henry Waxman – there’s another name nowhere to be found in this Washington Post story.
The Linda McMahon profile is at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/21/AR2010022103981.html?hpid=topnews. I’m writing this late Sunday night. More from here tomorrow.