Friday, April 30, 2010

Hartford Courant’s Rick Green: There’s No Media Blackout on Linda McMahon Prosecutor Tip

Hartford Courant columnist/blogger Rick Green wrote, in part of an interesting email exchange with me, “I’m not sure whether I completely buy the media blackout argument” with respect to in-depth Connecticut newspaper coverage of the story of Linda McMahon’s 1989 memo revealing that her wrestling company got an advance tip — allegedly from a federal prosecutor.

“A lot of this has been reported, it doesn’t yet have traction. I’m not sure why but it’s more than lazy reporters,” Green said.

The lazy-reporter argument is a straw man. I don’t think newspaper writers are lazy at all. I think they’re stretched and overworked.

For example, Ted Mann of the New London Day, the reporter who broke the Linda McMahon story, also blogs. Right now he’s getting buzz for his pungent observation that conservatives who complain about big government can be strangely silent when they’re also victims of the recent Connecticut floods, who are clamoring for federal relief. And good for Mann. However, I, personally, would rather see less bloviation from Mann and his brethren, in favor of extending his fine work on the McMahon story with additional enterprise journalism. Giving his own work “traction,” if you will. Traction is in the eye of the beholder.

The problem, Brother Rick, isn’t reportorial initiative; it’s the difference between the corporate news filter of a newspaper and the personal news filter of a blog like mine.

Green and I have come a long way since January, when he was calling me “The Desperate California Sportswriter” and joked that I was accusing Connecticut journalists of being spineless. Then, Green was just having fun. Now, when he defends the vertebrae of his fellow ink-stained wretches, he’s being serious. But the charge is no more on point in the spring than it was in the winter.

For me, the real question is, How long is the learning curve for the Connecticut media on the Linda McMahon Senate candidacy? At what point does this slick and well-funded campaign of the head of an industrial death cult cease to be chatter and start to coalesce as an affair of state?

I’ll take my answer off the air.

Irv Muchnick

Tied for the Most Important Post in the History of My Blogs

My other son, Jacob Schneider, has co-authored a long and brilliant profile of Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, for The Eye, the magazine of the Columbia Daily Spectator.

And his mother, his brother Nate, his sisters Mara and Lia, and I are very proud of Jake, too.

Read and enjoy:

Finding Bollinger

Eight years after his inauguration, he’s fundamentally changed—or restored—the presidency. This is how he did it.

By Jacob Schneider and Joy Resmovits

Linda McMahon’s ‘Media Sleeperhold’ ... today at Beyond Chron

Connecticut’s Meg Whitman Clamps Media in Wrestling Sleeperhold

I’ve been arguing in this space for months that Californians interested in upending the gubernatorial ambitions of Meg Whitman would do well to study the petri dish that is the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut. World Wrestling Entertainment mogul Linda McMahon is spending $50 million of her own fortune there in an attempt to win the Republican nomination and then take the measure of Chris Dodd’s successor-in-waiting, Democratic state attorney general Richard Blumenthal.

Connecticut is much smaller than California and – if possible – even weirder. McMahon’s wall-to-wall TV advertising has portrayed a mother and grandmother, and one-time wannabe French teacher, who is a woman. And did I forget to mention that she is a woman?

That, her experience in what she has called “the very testosterone-loaded” wrestling business, and some blather about ending government deficits and “incentivizing” small business are the sum of her pitch. (WWE, a publicly traded corporation with market capitalization of around a billion dollars, has received millions of dollars in tax breaks at all levels.)

The newspapers of the Nutmeg State are so flummoxed by all this that they don’t seem to know an honest-to-God scoop even when they unearth one.


Canvassing the Senate Candidates on the Linda McMahon Memo

Sent to the Linda McMahon, Rob Simmons, Peter Schiff, Richard Blumenthal, and Merrick Alpert campaigns:

My blog,, is following up on the report earlier this month in the New London Day that Linda McMahon and her wrestling company alerted the target of a federal criminal investigation after receiving a tip about it at a “fundraiser.” James J. West, the former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, denies the McMahon camp’s contention that he was the source of the tip, but declines to elaborate.

Do you believe the contradictions between Ms. McMahon’s and Mr. West’s accounts are an issue in the Senate campaign? If your answer is no, please explain why you so believe. If your answer is yes, please propose the steps that you believe should be taken to air the full story behind Ms. McMahon’s published memorandum in this matter.

Linda McMahon and the Annals of Jurisprudence

“A former Philadelphia police officer, Rickie Durham, will spend two years in prison for alerting former NBA player and childhood friend Jerome ‘Pooh’ Richardson to a drug raid in 2005.”

News story today.


“I don’t pretend to remember to go back, to revisit all the aspects of that case.”

Senate candidate Linda McMahon to The Day of New London, on the publication of her memo instructing another pro wrestling executive to tell their wrestlers’ illegal steroid connection, Dr. George Zahorian, that he was under criminal investigation. Zahorian would be convicted at a 1991 federal trial; Vince McMahon and the McMahons’ wrestling company would be acquitted at another trial in 1994.


“I am not commenting on something that happened 20 years ago.”

Former U.S. Attorney James J. West, in an email to me, refusing to elaborate on his denial that he was the source of the tip to the McMahons.


Linda McMahon Halts ‘Voter Bounty’; Now ... What About the Tip on the Steroid Doc?

Congratulations to Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate for his report on the $5-per-head “bounty” offered to the employees of Linda McMahon’s voter registration drive at the University of Connecticut.

In response to the negative press, McMahon says that she didn’t know about the operation and is ending it.

Still unexamined is a story that I think is of at least equal importance: the report earlier this month that a federal prosecutor in 1989 was alleged to have tipped McMahon and the predecessor company of her World Wrestling Entertainment that a Pennsylvania ring doctor, George Zahorian, was under investigation for illegally pushing steroids to wrestlers.

Zahorian was convicted on federal charges in 1991 and served prison time. Vince McMahon and the McMahons’ company, then called TitanSports, were acquitted of related charges at a trial three years later.

Previously, the tip to the McMahons was believed to have come from inside the Pennsylvania state government. But when Ted Mann of The Day in New London produced an unredacted copy of Linda’s December 1, 1989, memo to another wrestling executive, she said the tip actually had come from James J. West, who at the time was the U.S. attorney for the middle district of Pennsylvania.

West denied to Mann that he had tipped Jack Krill, one of the McMahons’ lawyers.

No Connecticut newspaper – not even The Day itself – has yet probed the contradictions between West’s account and WWE’s. Linda McMahon’s memo said Krill got the word from West at a “fundraiser.” West said he would not have been attending a “political fundraiser.” The possibilities that a current candidate might have been involved in obstruction of justice, and a U.S. attorney in misconduct, are very serious.

A week ago, after West refused to comment further to me, I queried the current U.S. attorney, Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt, who has not responded. Today I forwarded my faxes to Pfannenschmidt’s boss, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler.

Irv Muchnick

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Linda McMahon ‘Voter Bounty’ Story Is a Reminder That WWE Was Built by ‘Legal Payola’

While we wait to see if the Hearst Connecticut newspapers’ Sunday report on the Linda McMahon candidacy and World Wrestling Entertainment is just more hot air, Hearst’s Brian Lockhart has produced a valuable examination of the campaign’s controversial voter-registration effort among University of Connecticut students. See “Paying for voters: McMahon campaign plan draws questions,”

Though outside the scope of my own investigations, the so-called “$5-per-GOP-voter bounty” does align with what I know about WWE history in one important respect. The McMahons’ media and merchandising empire was built in the 1980s by a wrinkle called “barter syndication.” The then World Wrestling Federation, the Northeastern territory of the pro wrestling industry’s Mafioso cartel, expanded nationally thanks to the advent of cable TV and the rampant deregulatory actions of the Federal Communications Commissions under Mark Fowler, the chairman appointed by President Ronald Reagan. With the elimination of quotas for advertising minutes, a large category of programs — chiefly wrestling and children’s cartoons — became wall-to-wall infomercials. Vince McMahon, with Linda tagging along, outbid old-line promoters across the country for their traditional local TV time slots. Often those deals included splits between WWF and the TV stations on local wrestling ticket sales and marketing revenues, and the parties also swapped out commercial time; the McMahons used the latter to establish an ad hoc national syndicated network.

All perfectly legal, I should add. I analogize this to the outrage over the subtle bribes to disk jockeys in the 1950s who plugged pop music records, and the silence over the high-level manipulations of America’s culture industry ever since. The former is called “payola.” The latter is just business. If Linda McMahon has her own, business, politics, and statecraft will be not only interrelated, but indistinguishable.

Irv Muchnick

Promo for Linda McMahon Story in Sunday’s Hearst Newspapers Promises a Bunch of Nothing

“Hearst readies McMahon, WWE Sunday package ...” reads the headline at Connecticut Capitol Report.

The promo in the Greenwich Time promises to go “inside the McMahons’ world of sports entertainment, attending a recent SmackDown event for an up-close look at the theatrics and what some say is a culture of sex, performance-enhancing drugs and violence. And we find out how wrestling die-hards feel about one of the WWE’s founders running for office.”

Pardon my bad manners, but that sounds to me like another concatenated clich̩ Рnot the Linda McMahon campaign story that needs to be told as of April 25, 2010.

We’ve already heard plenty from the “die-hards.” What the people of the Nutmeg State need to have thrust in their faces is more information on the “dies.”

Of course, I hope I’m wrong and I’ll be reading Sunday with great interest.

Irv Muchnick

I Ask U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania About Linda McMahon Steroid Doc Tip Report; No Response

[by fax April 20, 2010]

Mr. Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt
United States Attorney
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Pfannenschmidt:

This is a request for comment on media reports suggesting that there was either an inadvertent mistake or misconduct by your predecessor in 1989. (I am an author, journalist, and blogger; see below for my contact information and links to my work.)

Earlier this month The Day of New London, Connecticut, reported on the involvement of U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s former company (now known as World Wrestling Entertainment) in two federal criminal investigations of steroid abuse in professional wrestling. The first of those cases, prosecuted by your office, resulted in the conviction at trial of Dr. George Zahorian.

Attached for your reference are the two published accounts in The Day, as well as a facsimile of the December 1, 1989, internal company memorandum by Ms. McMahon referenced in those reports.

According to The Day, Ms. McMahon and WWE cite James J. West, U.S. Attorney at the time, as the source of a tip to them of the investigation of Dr. Zahorian. In the newspaper story, Mr. West denied this, though without detail or addressing the obvious follow-up questions flowing from that denial.

In an email earlier today, I solicited further discussion of the 1989 events. Mr. West responded, “I am not commenting on something that happened 20 years ago.”

That is the background of this request. Unless resolved, the issue of Mr. West’s alleged tip calls into question the integrity of the U.S. Attorney’s Office (and no doubt has legal ramifications as well).

I will take the liberty of following up by phone tomorrow.

Irvin Muchnick

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Linda McMahon Memo Story Leaves Just a Few Open Questions – The Five W’s

We’re deep into the second full week since Ted Mann of The Day in New London broke the story of Linda McMahon’s 1989 memo directing an executive of the then World Wrestling Federation not to use Dr. George Zahorian any more.

And also be sure to alert the good doctor (who maintained a cash-and-carry drug dispensary out of the dressing rooms at shows in Pennsylvania) that the feds were investigating him.

The media’s passivity here is puzzling. I admit that I can’t think of a single angle of this story that calls out for further scrutiny – except maybe Who? What? Where? When? Why?

Let’s review what’s known, and why what remains unknown is important in the consideration of the record of a Senate candidate.


Linda McMahon’s memo says an official of the “State Department” spilled the beans on Zahorian. This may just mean that the wrestling company CEO – who has said her early goal in life was to become a French teacher – wasn’t listening during high school civics class. She now clarifies that in the memo she meant to say “Justice Department.”

For decades, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has been saying the tip came from someone in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission.

Without elaboration, the leak has been pinned on James J. West, the federal prosecutor in central Pennsylvania at the time. West, now in private practice in Harrisburg, has denied being the source of the advance information to the McMahons. And on its face it doesn’t make sense that he would have been so sabotaging one, and potentially two, of his own office’s criminal cases.

In connection with WWE statements pertaining to prosecutors, bear in mind that in 1994, when Vince McMahon and the future WWE would themselves be on trial, part of their defense lawyer’s husband’s job was to smear the prosecution team in the New York press. (See the recent reprints on this blog of the 1995 New York Post and Village Voice articles on Martin Bergman, “the fixer.”) Aside from the question of who gave away the 1989 Zahorian investigation info – or even the question of whether Vince and company deserved to be tried subsequently on conspiracy charges – a disinterested observer would note that Sean O’Shea, the lead prosecutor in 1994, was not at the top of his game; for whatever reason, he made several schoolboy tactical errors. Maybe the McMahon operatives, if nothing else, had done a good job of getting inside his head.

In any event, we certainly need to find out more about the pre-Linda memo contacts between U.S. Attorney West and Jack Krill, one of the McMahons’ lawyers. According to the McMahon camp, West told Krill of the Zahorian investigation “at a fundraiser” – and then instantly expressed regret for having done so. But according to West, no such thing happened. (That is, according to West by way of Mann and The Day; to me yesterday, West declined comment.)

Gentlemen, wha’ happened? Where did you see each other, socially or otherwise, in the period leading up to December 1, 1989? And what exactly did you say to each other about Zahorian?


As soon as we ask the question in boldface above, we’re grading on the curve. Obstruction of justice is obstruction of justice. Still, it’s at least interesting to speculate on whether whatever West allegedly told Krill was incidental or central to both Zahorian’s unsuccessful defense against charges in 1991 and the McMahons’ acquittal on related charges three years later.

Dave Meltzer, the most authoritative reporter of both trials, has never believed that the destruction of records by Zahorian had anything to do with why Vince McMahon and WWE got off. Meltzer says the importance of the Zahorian-is-hot tip was its timing: at the very moment when state deregulatory legislation was kicking in. Under the new rules, appointment of an attending physician at wrestling shows passed from the state athletic commission to the promotion. Had WWE (then called WWF) kept using Zahorian, they would have been more deeply implicated in what the government would later vainly try to establish as a conspiracy to distribute steroids.

Over the years, I’ve deferred to Meltzer on this; he knows a lot about this stuff, and unlike me, he attended the McMahon trial. But The Day’s story gives me creeping doubts. One is on a small point: the court records published by the newspaper are ambiguous on whether WWE did succeed in separating itself from Zahorian before the company had directly booked him even once. The government’s contention about that in the pleading papers may have been flawed, though, and ultimately discredited at trial. The paperwork-shredding does seem to be a bit of a red herring; the feds were coordinating a months-long operation of controlled purchases of steroids from Zahorian by an informant, and they could (and did) produce backup FedEx copies of the doctor’s shipping receipts to Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, and many other WWE performers.

But even so, what the McMahons did seems an awful lot like attempting to obstruct justice, perhaps needlessly. Further, neither Meltzer nor anyone else could foretell how every prosecutorial thread might fit together. In a more competent prosecution that did not screw up the venue for the charges (to cite the most blatant mistake), destruction of records very well could have been contributed to a mosaic of evidence persuading a jury to convict rather than acquit.


Set in motion by Linda McMahon’s memo, aide Pat Patterson called Zahorian from a pay phone in December 1989, fired him, and advised him to destroy all his wrestlers’ records because he was under criminal investigation. Zahorian was said to have deposited those records with his attorney. Yet when the feds busted Zahorian at his office three months later, the doctor was in the act of destroying records.

So what’s the deal there? Were these additional records he’d forgotten to secure earlier?

Plus: What was so surprising about a visit from federal agents if the doctor had already been tipped a season earlier?


At an online fan discussion board, laughing at his own joke without explanation, Dave Meltzer, who fancies himself the alpha male of journalists, has dismissed the idea that the voters of Connecticut are owed an accounting by Linda McMahon for her 12/1/89 WWE work product. Meltzer apparently prefers to cling stubbornly to his 16-year-old take on the Linda memo even in light of The Day’s new information. For his own good, someone ought to remind Meltzer that this is not a skit on Monday Night Raw.

As for the Connecticut media, they too deserve darts if they leave at loose ends this basic exercise in the Five W’s.

Irv Muchnick

Steroid Doc Prosecutor Accused of Tipping McMahons Says, ‘No Comment’

I emailed James J. West, the Harrisburg lawyer who, when he was U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, prosecuted Dr. George Zahorian, the steroid connection for Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, and dozens of wrestlers in the then World Wrestling Federation.

Linda McMahon has told The Day of New London, Connecticut, that her December 1, 1989, memo, was referring to West where it mentioned a tip from a government official at a fundraiser that Zahorian was under investigation. West has denied tipping the McMahons’ lawyer, Jack Krill.

In an April 10 interview, West told The Day’s Ted Mann, “Absolutely nothing like that would have occurred.” West added that if the “fundraiser” in question had been a political event, then he, as a court-appointed federal prosecutor, would have been barred from attending it. “I can say that without equivocation.”

My attempt today to get West to say more, with or without equivocation, was unsuccessful.

“I am not commenting on something that happened 20 years ago,” he emailed back.

There are several rejoinders to this unsatisfactory response. First, West has already commented. Second, whether 20 years or 20 seconds ago, the allegation impacts a candidacy for the United States Senate. Then, of course, there’s this: the suggestion that a prosecutor gave the game away to a potential target is plenty serious, in and of itself.

Next: The Linda McMahon memo story has left only a few open questions – the five W’s.

Irv Muchnick

Linda McMahon’s Role in the WWE Pedophile Scandal: Additional Resources

In a 2007 Internet radio conversation with fellow wrestling newsletter writer Bryan Alvarez, Dave Meltzer reminisced about the 1992 Phil Donahue Show. Meltzer had numerous in-depth observations on the scandal of the pedophile ring at Linda and Vince McMahon’s wrestling company, including somewhat more detailed hints about payoffs of other alleged victims. The link (Wrestling Observer/Figure Four subscribers only) is

The whistleblower who sued World Wrestling Entertainment’s predecessor TitanSports, and settled and returned to his job, only to have a second falling out with the McMahons, later did a lengthy interview with a journal called Wrestling Perspective. A preview of Tom Cole’s conversation with Paul MacArthur of Wrestling Perspective is at

In the interview, Cole discussed in some specifics his relationship with Linda McMahon through all this. In the end, when he quit/got fired for good, Linda appeared at his state unemployment hearing to challenge his claim. Apparently, she was much more of a micro-manager in this area than she has professed to be about her corporation’s culture of drugs and death.

I have re-ordered the full text of the Wrestling Perspective piece about WWE’s ugly “past.” (My old copy is imprisoned in an old computer.) When I get it, I’ll summarize the highlights, and if MacArthur grants permission, I’ll republish the whole thing.

Meanwhile, anyone with more information can contact me at

Next, I’ll return to the questions left open by the New London Day report on Linda McMahon’s 1989 memo instructing another executive to tip off steroid doctor George Zahorian that he was being investigated by the feds.

Irv Muchnick

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Linda McMahon Managed the WWE Pedophile Scandal’s Damage Control

(I emailed invitations to comment to Ed Patru and Robert Zimmerman, respective spokespersons for the Linda McMahon campaign and World Wrestling Entertainment. They did not respond prior to the publication of this post.)

There has been a lot of discussion of whether WWE’s raunchy television content, much of it in the past and some of it in the present, matters in the consideration of Linda McMahon’s Senate candidacy.

For the most part, I’ve argued that McMahon critics are barking up the wrong tree by dwelling on fictionalized pornography, of either the flesh or the spirit. I would rather talk about the pandemic of death in the pro wrestling industry; about WWE’s specious and PR-centered “Wellness Policy”; and about the aggressively “cost-effective” occupational health and safety hazards inflicted on the company’s “independent contractors.”

But if what the people want to hear is more scandalous sex, then there’s that, too, and it’s real stuff — that is, apart from the “soap opera.” There’s even a YouTube video of the infamous 1992 episode of the Phil Donahue Show focusing on allegations that WWE (then called WWF) harbored a backstage pedophilia ring.

In this series of posts I’ll review the whole tawdry story. For a quick overview, see “Linda McMahon’s Husband Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (Part 2 – 1992 Drug and Sex Scandals),” December 23, 2009,

Over the next few days, I’ll be adding detail on the case of Tom Cole, the settlement of his lawsuit, and his interactions with Linda McMahon and subsequent second estrangement from the company.

For starters, you can watch most of the old Donahue broadcast at the three links below. Of interest is a shot of the studio crowd at around the 1:55 mark of Part 2. Tom Cole, the accuser, is in the audience. He is accompanied by Elizabeth Hulette – wrestling personality “The Lovely Elizabeth,” who 11 years later would become one of the industry’s many drug-lifestyle deaths.

Also accompanying young Cole in the Donahue studio (though I don’t believe she is on camera in the YouTube clip) was Linda McMahon. As Dave Meltzer, publisher of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and one of Donahue’s panelists, recalled in a post last year for his website’s discussion board, Linda and Elizabeth were part of an unrealized,plot to unveil Cole melodramatically on Donahue in the wake of the 11th-hour settlement of his lawsuit.

In Meltzer’s account, Tom Cole’s brother, Lee Cole, had become friendly during this period with ex-wrestler Barry Orton, who was also doing the media circuit with his charges of sexual harassment by WWF executives. (Barry Orton is the uncle of current star Randy Orton.)

The day before the show, however, Lee Cole went incommunicado, and Barry Orton, Meltzer, and the other Donahue panelists who would be confronting Vince McMahon realized that the Coles and WWF had probably made a deal.

Meltzer recalled, “Another kid who complained at about that time [also] suddenly changed his tune and was driving a nice car shortly thereafter.” Meltzer continued:

Before the show, Orton went to me and had this feeling something happened with Cole, and told me not to mention Cole’s name, so I didn’t. I’m sure he told Bruno [Sammartino] the same thing.

As it turned out, Cole was in the audience and came to the show with Elizabeth (with them figuring it was the ultimate mark out for a teenage boy in that time frame) and Linda McMahon (the ability to come across as a sincere caring aunt like figure) in the limo to the show and sat in the crowd with both of them.

Apparently Vince came on the show, with Cole in the audience, so that when someone mentioned Cole’s name, Vince would spring him on the crowd (nobody knew what he looked like), and he’d say that Orton was a liar, [Superstar Billy] Graham was a liar, Bruno was a liar, etc. They had this closing scene [out] of Perry Mason … planned. But nobody mentioned Cole’s name and they never got to pull it off.

It actually would have been the most awesome moment for Vince, which explained him going on the show. Instead, well, during a commercial break about 40 minutes into the show, he whispered in my ear, “This is the longest hour of my life.”

YouTube links: (Part 1) (Part 2)
(Part 3)

Irv Muchnick

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Here’s How a CEO Senate Candidate Responded to Charges of Wrongdoing on Her Corporate Watch (Hint: It’s Not Linda McMahon)

The Associated Press reports that investigators in Russia, Germany, and the U.S. are looking into bribes in Europe by Hewlett-Packard Co. officials, totaling $11 million, about seven years ago during Carly Fiorina’s tenure as CEO. Fiorina is now running for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in California.

Fiorina told the AP that she pleased there is an investigation.

“She said she believes it’s the job of a CEO to set an ethical tone at the top and to investigate thoroughly allegations of fraud or illegality. ‘My track record on both priorities is very clear,’ she said. ‘I have fired people all throughout my career for engaging in illegal or unethical behavior.’”

Irv Muchnick

Most Important Post in the History of My Blogs

My son Nate has published an op-ed essay in the Sacramento Bee, and his mother, his brother, his sisters, and I are all very proud of him.

“Viewpoints: UC faculty could find a lesson in Jaime Escalante’s devotion”

Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer: Missing in Action

In the previous post I gently called on the Connecticut media to smoke out more of the Linda McMahon story.

Now, as always, my criticism turns to another “Who me?” target: wrestling fans and the newsletters that often pander more than they inform.

To his credit, James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch went into the archives and helped me republish the Torch’s contemporaneous coverage of the New York Post’s 1995 expose of Martin Bergman, husband of defense attorney Laura Brevetti. Bergman’s career-long portfolio of shady activities included dirty tricks before the Vince McMahon/TitanSports federal steroid trial, which resulted in acquittal.

The online archive of the biggest publication in the field, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, is being filled in gradually and does not yet include the 1995 issues.

I challenge Dave Meltzer, publisher of the Observer, to release, at a minimum, his own stories about the criminal investigation of possible witness-tampering at pro wrestling’s Trial of the Century.

Meltzer – who, I again emphasize, has forgotten more about all these matters than I’ll ever know – continues to play “hide the ball” in his reporting and analysis of the Linda McMahon campaign. He selectively clues in his readers only on those stories to which his reactions can be calculated to “put himself over,” as they say in wrestling.

Dave, an old friend and fellow journalist, has not responded to my last several polite email messages.

However, on April 10 he did find time to go onto the private discussion board of his subscribers and post a message ridiculing my exhortations to him to add more value to the public discussion of a U.S. Senate candidate whose only resume line reads “wealthy wrestling mogul.”

“I’ve never laughed so hard in my life,” Meltzer wrote. “Between my defense of Flair the night of Shawn’s speech and my defense of Linda last night, this has been so much fun.”

Meltzer did not explain what was so mirthful. Perhaps there was no need with this audience of his most sycophantic and sophomoric readers, who could be relied on to guffaw on cue, like Ed McMahon for Johnny Carson’s old Carnac the Magnificent routine.

His “defense of Flair the night of Shawn’s speech” was lumped with his “defense of Linda last night.” Pretty much sums up the priorities there.

Irv Muchnick

Call to Connecticut Newspapers on Linda McMahon Scandal: More Reporting, Less Gum-Flapping

This blog just posted a link to the Norwich Bulletin’s editorial on the fallout of the story by Ted Mann of The Day (New London) that Linda McMahon wrote a memo during her business career as one of the heads of World Wrestling Entertainment that could be ungenerously interpreted as obstruction of justice.

It’s a very good editorial. By my count, there have now been two Connecticut newspaper editorials about this scandal. The other, of course, was in The Day itself.

And there have been zero additional enterprise news stories.

In my posts of the last couple of days, I have exhaustively documented the dormant, but not plausibly dead, story of how Linda and Vince McMahon’s celebrated lead defense counsel, Laura Brevetti, had a “fixer” husband who was involved in all sorts of shady dealings. Some of those dealings involved duping the New York press into running smears of the prosecutors at the 1994 federal steroid-trafficking trial. Other dealings involved outrageously out-of-bounds meetings, with possible witness-tampering cash inducements, with a key prosecution witness and her lawyer.

For any interested reporter who is tired of transcribing sound bites and crunching poll numbers, this is low-hanging fruit.

Irv Muchnick

Friday, April 16, 2010

Norwich Bulletin: ‘McMahon Owes State an Explanation’

“Our view: McMahon owes state an explanation”

Norwich Bulletin

Text of New York Post on 1995 Witness-Tampering Investigation of McMahons’ Lawyer’s Husband

Below is the text of the November 22, 1995, New York Post article that was uploaded earlier today in facsimile form at

A text-only PDF version now also can be viewed at

A related article from the Village Voice of December 19, 1995 — headlined “The Fixer” and written by William Bastone — was posted here earlier this week and can be viewed at



New York Post


November 22, 1995

Federal prosecutors are probing whether a TV producer tampered with witnesses and obstructed justice in a case in which his lawyer-wife represented a top wrestling promoter, The Post has learned.

The Brooklyyn-based investigation focuses on TV producer Martin Bergman and his wife, Laura Brevetti, a former prosecutor who has handled several high-profile cases as a defense lawyer, federal sources told The Post.

The probe stems from the trial of Vince McMahon, the World Wrestling Federation czar who was acquitted last year of distributing steroids and encouraging their use among his wrestlers, including Hulk Hogan.

Brevetti was McMahon’s lawyer.

Two FBI agents, working with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Sack, have been interviewing witnesses about Bergman’s conduct leading up to the trial, sources said.

Investigators are trying to determine if Bergman pursued witnesses and potential witnesses against McMahon in an effort to change, taint or discredit their testimony by inducing them to accept “TV consultant” money, sources said.

Bergman contacted witnesses, their lawyers and journalists seeking information and access to McMahon’s accusers, ostensibly to produce a TV piece on the trial, sources said.

He alternately represented himself as a producer for “60 Minutes,” “Hard Copy,” “A Current Affair” and “American Journal” – without disclosing that he lived with Brevetti and was working out of her office.

Bergman offered one key witness between $250,000 and $400,000, sources and government documents state.

The sources also said the witness, McMahon’s top deputy Emily Feinberg, told investigators of Bergman’s offer and testified that she purchased and distributed steroids at McMahon’s behest.

Feinberg, also known as Emily Arth, posed in Playboy magazine in 1988.

The government also is looking into the role Bergman may have played in preparing false ethics complaints against the lead prosecutor and two investigators in the McMahon case, sources told The Post.

A Post investigation has established that Bergman also was responsible for three articles that smeared the prosecutorial team – one appearing on the eve of the trial.

One was an investigative story in the New York Observer that attacked lead prosecutor Sean O’Shea for sexual misconduct. Sources at the Observer say Bergman timed the piece – picked up by The Post the next day – to appear on the eve of the McMahon trial.

The sources said Bergman also planted two negative stories about federal investigator Anthony Valenti in the Observer at a time when Valenti was known to be preparing an indictment against McMahon.

All the stories were based on complaints later deemed unfounded by the Justice Department, and O’Shea, Valenti and FBI agent Warren Flagg were exonerated.

Federal probers are trying to establish whether there were financial connections among Bergman, McMahon and the lawyers who filed the baseless misconduct complaints, the sources said.

Valerie Capom [spelling unclear in facsimile] , chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District, declined comment on the investigation.

Bergman and Brevetti declined, through their lawyer Joel Cohen, to be interviewed.

In a separate statement to The Post, Brevetti said:

“I have been advised of no investigation and have never been contacted by anyone in the government about the existence of one. In any event, there is absolutely no basis for any claim of wrongdoing by me. It’s clear to me that this story is being waged by certain individuals within the government who have a personal vendetta against me.”

Joe Conason, the Observer’s executive editor, told The Post: “We were used by Bergman. I was upset that he never disclosed his conflict of interest to us. I took his name off the article. I didn’t pay him for the article. He never wrote for the Observer again.”

Bergman had sought the assignment based on advance knowledge of the ethics complaint, a source said. Bergman asked O’Shea to respond to the complaint, filed on June 24, 1994, before O’Shea even knew of it. The story ran on June 29, a week before McMahon’s trial.

The pattern was repeated with investigator Valenti.

Shaun Assael, whose byline was on the O’Shea article, also feels duped.

“Bergman used me to throw O’Shea off his game, and to help his future wife at the start of the trial. Bergman wasn’t honest with me about his tangled web,” Assael said. Bergman denied any involvement in the O’Shea story to the FBI. But the agency has a fax stating he was co-writing the story.

Marriage puzzled their pals


They’re the latest Odd Couple: Laura Brevetti, the high-profile lawyer with the sparkling track record as a federal prosecutor and defense attorney, last year married longtime beau Martin Bergman, a free-lance TV producer with a reputation for misrepresentation.

As a young prosecutor, Brevetti played hardball with bad guys. In 1981, she played a role in the Abscam convictions.

In 1983, she was named the first female member of the Organized Crime Strike Force. In 1986, she led the prosecution that crippled the hierarchy of the Bonanno crime family and Teamsters Local 814. New York magazine once named her Prosecutor of the Year.

As a defense lawyer in 1992, Brevetti bucked what seemed to be long odds by winning acquittal of Westchester nanny Olivia Riner, accused of murdering the 3-month-old in her charge.

Two years later, Brevetti won the acquittal of World Wrestling Federation boss Vince McMahon, accused of running a steroid ring for his wrestlers.

Brevetti and Bergman were married last year by Mayor Giuliani. Lawyers, prosecutors and friends professed total mystification by the union.

In 1981, Bergman was indicted but cleared of charges of bribery and tampering with public records. He also was an FBI informant in the Suffolk County sewer district scandal, law enforcement sources told The Post.

“A Current Affair” producer John Johnston, who worked on WWF stories, remembers Bergman as someone who “always operated in the shadows.”

“He always talked tough like he was going to deliver the goods on the WWF bad guys, but he never delivered,” Johnston said. “He was tight with [WWF czar Vince] McMahon and his [longtime] attorney Jerry McDevitt. He was always leaking conspiracy theories that seemed to be coming directly out of McDevitt’s office.”

Several sources said Bergman got Geraldo Rivera’s now-defunct TV show “Now It Can Be Told” to do an entire half-hour attacking the motives and integrity of police and prosecutors in the Westchester nanny murder case – around the same time his wife was winning an acquittal for the nanny.

In 1991, Bergman co-produced a “60 Minutes” segment attacking Sen. Alfonse D’Amato using mobster-turned-information Henry Hill, who made charges that seemed irresponsible even to D’Amator’s critics. D’Amato demanded that CBS fire Bergman, but Bergman was working free-lance. He has never produced another segment for “60 Minutes.”

In 1991, Joe Conason and Post columnist Jack Newfield met with Bergman while preparing an article on D’Amato for Playboy. Bergman asked for a $5,000 fee to provide some research. Newfield and Conason said they told Bergman it was unethical to pay for information.


‘Tampering Cloud’ Over Linda McMahon’s Company’s 1994 Federal Trial (New York Post, 11/22/95)

I have posted a crude facsimile of the story about World Wrestling Entertainment defense attorney Laura Brevetti and her husband Martin Bergman from the New York Post on November 22, 1995. See

The article, “TAMPERING CLOUD OVER WRESTLING BIG’S TRIAL,” lays out the accusations that Bergman offered inducements to Emily Feinberg, a star prosecution witness at the 1994 federal steroid-trafficking trial of Linda and Vince McMahon’s WWE (then known as the WWF).

The sidebar article, “Marriage puzzled their pals,” describes the “Odd Couple” marriage of Brevetti and Bergman.

This copy is not easy on the eyes. I put it up in this form in order to illustrate that the global question of obstruction of justice dogging Linda McMahon’s current Senate campaign in Connecticut should not be regarded as either old or trivial. On the subject of “old,” think of it more as an important story that other media, irresponsibly, allowed to die instead of working to amplify and resolve. Please also consider whether there is a healthy political statute of limitations on evidence that after a major candidate’s company escaped conviction at a federal trial, a credible and well-documented “tampering cloud” hovered over it.

In the coming days I will try to get the complete text, or at least key portions, transcribed and posted.

My thanks to the folks at the New York Post library for running this down on microfiche. (The newspaper’s electronic archives go back only to 1998.)

I apologize to the Post reporters – the late muckraker Jack Newfield, in collaboration with sports-media columnist Phil Mushnick – for earlier calling their story a pickup of William Bastone’s near-simultaneous Village Voice article about Bergman. (I previously uploaded that one, “The Fixer,” to Newfield and Mushnick actually came first.

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (13th in a series – A Story Only Newspapers and Bloggers Can Tell)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989


“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day


Daniela Altimari of the Hartford Courant has blogged a thoughtful reflection on what a colleague, Colin McEnroe, speculatively labels the “post-journalism” era of politics. See “Rob Simmons, Linda McMahon and the Fourth Estate,”

The topic is urgent for Rob Simmons, Linda McMahon’s main opponent for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut, since he faces the challenge of overcoming her $50 million self-funded campaign.

And the topic is important to me, a Connecticut outsider, regardless of whatever level of success McMahon achieves in the electoral arena. She is running on the basis of her business record. That business is not just sleazy – even most ill-informed observers concede as much, usually with a shrug. It is also a cult of industrialized death – a bit more problematic for citizens and voters who are not themselves comatose.

Ted Mann of The Day has broken the story of what may be the defining piece of Linda McMahon’s record. In 1989 the pro wrestling company she co-founded and ran in partnership with her husband Vince got word that a Pennsylvania doctor was under federal investigation for pushing steroids. George Zahorian was the assigned ringside physician at many events of the predecessor of World Wrestling Entertainment, including its television tapings, where he was part of the on-camera cast. Vince McMahon himself was one of Zahorian’s illegal steroid customers, and so were many, many of the McMahons’ wrestlers.

Mann acquired and published the first complete version of the December 1, 1989, memo that Linda McMahon sent to another company executive, Pat Patterson, in which she directed Patterson to dump Zahorian and to warn him that he was under federal criminal investigation.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not old news. First, because performers in the McMahons’ industry have not stopped dropping dead at young ages and in disproportionate numbers. Those numbers, concededly, were slowed by the institution in 2006 of a half-assed and Orwellian “wellness policy” – a decade after the mega-profitable WWE had stopped steroid testing altogether because the occupational health and safety of its “independent contractor assets” was more trouble than it was worth.

And it is not old news because Linda McMahon is a candidate for the United States Senate, and her role in an arguable obstruction of justice was never reported in depth at the time, much less in the months since she declared her candidacy.

Numerous legitimate questions flow from Ted Mann’s first swing at the Linda memo. For example: Did the tip to the McMahons that Zahorian was “hot” go down as Linda described it? Former federal prosecutor James West says not. That conflict should be resolved.

Another question: Was the tip a difference-maker in Vince McMahon and WWE’s acquittal in federal court in 1994, three years after Dr. Zahorian’s conviction? Maybe, maybe not. But the McMahons’ dream team of defense counsel took no more chances with that than they did with any other aspect of securing a “not guilty” outcome. In an offshoot I have been reporting – and no one in the Connecticut media has yet picked up – their lead trial attorney, Laura Brevetti, had a not-so-smooth-operator husband, Martin Bergman, who freelanced as a “fixer.” Though a subsequent criminal investigation did not result in his prosecution for witness-tampering, no reasonable person could conclude that Bergman’s contacts with Vince McMahon’s former secretary, Emily Feinberg, were anything other than highly improper.

It’s a complex story – noirish and corporate – and as Altimari suggests, only one media institution is equipped to tell it right.

Even if it’s about to become extinct, let’s hope the newspaper brontosaurus rears its head and reasserts its relevance.

Irv Muchnick

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (12th in a series – I Ask WWE Lawyer Jack Krill About Tip on Steroid Doc; No Response)

April 13, 2010

John P. Krill, Jr., Esq.
K&L Gates

Dear Mr. Krill:

I am making an educated guess at your email address, and sending the same message via fax to the Harrisburg number at your listing on the firm website. I also am reinforcing this message by phone.

As you probably know, The Day of New London, Connecticut, has published the complete December 1, 1989, memo from Linda McMahon to Pat Patterson. That document, in redacted form, had been part of the court record in the 1994 steroid trial. According to the newly unredacted paragraph, you were tipped to the criminal investigation of Dr. Zahorian by a government official at what the memo calls “a fundraiser.”

The Day’s Ted Mann goes on to report that Ms. McMahon’s campaign and WWE say that the person who tipped you was James West of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Mr. West denies this to The Day and adds that he would have been prevented by policy from attending a political fundraiser. (Ms. McMahon’s memo, it should be noted, said “fundraiser,” not “political fundraiser.”)

Please consider sharing with my blog readers defining details of your 1989 contact with Mr. West. Exactly where and when did Mr. West inform you that Dr. Zahorian was under investigation?

I will post the text of this query, and your response, around noon Eastern time tomorrow, Wednesday the 14th.

Thank you.

Irvin Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (11th in a series – Pro Wrestling Torch’s 1995 Coverage of Laura Brevetti/Martin Bergman Scandal)

Below is a 1995 article from the newsletter Pro Wrestling Torch. Thanks to James Caldwell of the Torch for digging it up. Information on VIP subscriptions to the Torch, which include online access to back issues, go to


TORCH #362: COVER STORY Feds looking into McMahon trial
Allegations of improprieties lead to more damaging publicity
By Wade Keller, Torch editor

The Wednesday morning New York Post reports Federal investigators are looking into improprieties related to the 1994 steroid trial of Vince McMahon and Titan Sports. Federal investigators are focusing on Martin Bergman, freelance TV producer and husband of Titan’s attorney in the case, Laura Brevetti. The Post also reports that Emily Fineberg, McMahon’s former top assistant who government prosecutors built much of their case around, has told investigators Bergman offered her between $250,000 and $400,000.

The headline of the page 8 story of the Post reads: “Tampering cloud over wrestling’s big trial.” A subheadline reads: “Feds want to know if the TV producer paid witnesses to alter their testimony.” A photo of Brevetti and Bergman shared space with photos of Vince McMahon, Fineberg, and federal investigator Anthony Valenti on the story that filled the entire page.

Besides the Post story, two other major New York daily papers were expected to run articles on the investigation on Wednesday. WOR-TV news broke the story first on their 10 p.m. report Tuesday night.

These reports will surely lead to more reports focusing on the most sellable, sexy aspect of the investigation, that being the WWF’s involvement. The WWF has been nearly crippled in the past five years by millions of dollars spent in legal fees and even more in lost revenue with advertisers, lost goodwill with fans, and opportunity costs related to the Dr. Zahorian steroid trial and Vince McMahon’s 1994 high-profile trial. Zahorian was convicted and served time in jail for distribution of steroids without just medical cause at WWF events. McMahon was found not guilty of charges of conspiring to distribute and illegal possession of steroids.

Says the Post story, written by Jack Newman and Phil Mushnick: “Two FBI agents, working with assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Sack, have been interviewing witnesses about Bergman’s conduct leading up to the trial, sources said. Investigators are trying to determine if Bergman pursued witnesses and potential witnesses against McMahon in an effort to change, taint, or discredit their testimoy by inducing them to accept ‘TV consultant’ money, sources said. Bergman contacted witnesses, their lawyers, and journalists seeking information and access to McMahon’s accusors, ostensibly to produce a TV piece on the trial, sources said.”

The Post also reports that Bergman was responsible for three articles smearing both members of the McMahon trial prosecution team, articles that appeared in the New York Observer and the Post.

Reports the Post, “Federal probers are trying to establish whether there were financial connections among Bergman, McMahon, and the lawyers who filed the baseless misconduct complaints, the sources said.”

Brevetti responded in a written statement to the Post: “I have been advised of no investigation and have never been contacted by anyone in the government about the existence of one. In any event, there is absolutely no basis for any claim of wrongdoing by me. It is clear to me that this story is being waved by certain individuals within the government who have a personal vendetta against me.”

A sidebar story chronicled Brevetti’s storied career as an attorney, which began as a government prosecutor. As prosecutor she was named the first female member of the Organized Crime Strike Force in 1983. In 1986 she led the prosecution that crippled the hierarchy of the Bonanno crime family and Teamsters Local 814. She was once named the New York magazine “Prosecutor of the Year.” She received much publicity in 1992 as a defense attorney for winning a surprsing acquittal of Westchester nanny Olivia Riner who was accused of murdering the 3-month-old she was hired to care for.

The jist of the Post’s sidebar story was that friends of Brevetti were surprised when she married Bergman, who was referred to as someone who “always operated in the shadows” by “A Current Affair” producer John Johnson. “He always talked tough like he was going to deliver the goods on the WWF bad guys, but he never delivered,” Johnson told the Post. “He was tight with [WWF czar Vince] McMahon and his [longtime] attorney Jerry McDevitt. He was always leaking conspiracy theories that seemed to be coming directly out of McDevitt’s office.”

The Post reported that sources said Bergman got Geraldo Rivera’s now-defunct “Now It Can Be Told” to dedicate an entire program to attacking the motivations and integrity of police and prosecutors in the Westchester nanny murder case. Newfeld, co-writer of the Post article, reports that he met with Bergman in 1991 regarding a story on Sen. Alfonse D’Amato. Bergman reportedly asked for $5,000 to provide research. Newfeld and his collegaue turned Bergman down.

As of deadline late Tuesday night, no comment was available from Titan Sports or Vince McMahon. The media publicity alone will set the WWF back in their ongoing attempts to shed the image of being a corrupt, sleazy organization, an image that was amplified during the steroid and sex scandals and now may reach new heights.

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (10th in a series – Defense Lawyer Laura Brevetti’s 1995 Response to Report on Her ‘Fixer’ Husband)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989


“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day


In addition to the December 1995 Village Voice article by William Bastone, “The Fixer” – a profile of Martin Bergman, husband of defense attorney Laura Brevetti – there was a story late that year in the New York Post about the criminal investigation of Bergman in connection with his contacts with Emily Feinberg, Vince McMahon’s former secretary and a key prosecution witness at his federal trial the previous year.

I’m still trying to run down a copy of the Post piece, which was co-written by Jack Newfield and Phil Mushnick. I think I was wrong in earlier calling the Post coverage a “pickup” of Bastone’s. The Post publication may have preceded the Voice, and in any case was probably developed independently, though with similar sources.

I’ll share more on what the Post had to say when I get it. Meanwhile, what I have come across is a written statement by Laura Brevetti in response to the story. Here is what Brevetti said:

“I have been advised of no investigation and have never been contacted by anyone in the government about the existence of one. In any event, there is absolutely no basis for any claim of wrongdoing by me. It’s clear to me that this story is being waged by certain individuals within the government who have a personal vendetta against me.”

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice (9th in a series — ‘The Day’ Editorializes)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989


“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day


See “McMahon’s memo,”

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (8th in a series – Some of These Allegations Are Hardly ‘Revisits’)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989


“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day


Brian Lockhart of Hearst blogs nimbly on the electoral dynamics of Rob Simmons’ Monday press conference attack on Linda McMahon. See “In the shadow of the capitol, Rob Simmons tries to cut loose against McMahon/WWE,”

Independent of the Senate horse race, however, I believe Lockhart stumbles in characterizing Ted Mann’s story in The Day as a “revisit” of allegations of obstruction of justice by Linda McMahon prior to the 1994 federal trial of her husband Vince and their wrestling company on steroid-trafficking charges.

Until the publication of the Mann report, the world had not seen the unexpurgated memo that Linda sent on December 1, 1989, to then World Wrestling Federation executive Pat Patterson.

It’s true that there was testimony, both at Vince’s trial and at that of WWF ring doctor George Zahorian three years earlier, of Patterson’s maneuverings as he proceeded both to fire Zahorian and to tell him to destroy records – both arguably results of Linda’s directive.

But the 1994 jury was not shown the redacted paragraph of the memo in which Linda told how the McMahons got wind of the criminal investigation of Zahorian. Nor, until last week, was the public.

Linda said federal prosecutor James West tipped WWE lawyer Jack Krill at a “fundraiser.” West has denied this to The Day. Who tipped the McMahons and how is hardly a “revisit” of a resolved question. And revisit or not, it is an important question in the vetting of a major candidate. Lockhart and the rest of the Connecticut media might want to spend less time grading each other and more time getting the story.

Even less of a “revisit” is the 1995 Village Voice article by Bill Bastone – reprinted in full on this blog yesterday – with a different potential obstruction-of-justice scenario: the machinations of Martin Bergman, husband of McMahon defense counsel Laura Brevetti. By any standard, Bergman’s contacts with star prosecution witness Emily Feinberg were irregular.

That issue, like the Linda McMahon memo, is not settled by whether Bergman was ever charged with a crime. The Bastone story shows that Bergman was a well-connected henchman of New York’s former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, so it is hardly surprising that he skated.

I am researching contemporaneous news coverage to further answer to what extent the Bergman story could be considered a “revisit.” So far as I know at this point, the one and only pickup of the Voice piece in 1995 was in the New York Post. I’ll be reporting more shortly on that aspect of an old tale that, thanks to Linda McMahon’s Senate run, is freshly pertinent.

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (7th in a series – Read the Full Article on the ‘Fixer’ at the McMahons’ 1994 Federal Trial)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989


“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day


In a post yesterday, I quoted from a 1995 Village Voice article that told the story of Martin Bergman, husband of Laura Brevetti, the defense attorney at the federal steroid-trafficking trial of Vince McMahon and the then World Wrestling Federation.

See “Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (6th in a Series – McMahon Defense Lawyer’s Husband Floated a $350,000 Offer to the Prosecution’s Star Witness),”

The story tells of how “Bergman’s work has dovetailed with the interests of Brevetti” and specifically how his role in the McMahon case “raises troubling questions about Brevetti’s knowledge of, or involvement in, these questionable antics.”

With the permission of the author, William Bastone, I now have uploaded the full text of the article, which can be viewed at

Today Bill Bastone is editor of, a resource of material obtained from government and law enforcement sources, via Freedom of Information requests, and from court files nationwide.javascript:void(0)

Irv Muchnick

Linda McMahon Campaign Coverage: A Guide for the Perplexed

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

[unseen and unheard]

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

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (6th in a series – McMahon Defense Lawyer’s Husband Floated a $350,000 Offer to the Prosecution’s Star Witness)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989


“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day


As recounted in a post at this blog on December 24, 2009, Laura A. Brevetti headed the defense team for Linda and Vince McMahon’s wrestling company when it was tried in federal court in 1994, along with Vince himself. See “Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (Part 4 – The Defense Lawyer, the ‘Fixer,’ and the Playboy Model),”

In 2008 Brevetti joined K&L Gates, the McMahons’ long-time Pittsburgh-based law firm, whose other partners include perhaps their most trusted adviser, Jerry McDevitt. Another K&L Gates partner is John P. (Jack) Krill Jr., who is alleged by the Linda McMahon Senate campaign and World Wrestling Entertainment to have received a tip from a federal prosecutor about an investigation of wrestling ring doctor and illegal steroid pusher George Zahorian.

Vince McMahon and the McMahons’ company, then called TitanSports, were acquitted at the 1994 trial. A year later William Bastone of New York’s Village Voice wrote a long article about the shady activities of Laura Brevetti’s husband, Martin Bergman, in numerous criminal cases and scenarios. (“The Fixer: Journalist. Private Eye. Mole. Snitch. It’s all in a day’s work for Marty Bergman, the Zelig of New York’s information highway,” Village Voice, December 19, 1995.)

Here’s what Bastone wrote about Brevetti and Bergman in the McMahon trial:

... Bergman is under criminal investigation for separate maneuverings around the McMahon trial, particularly for trying to induce a key prosecution witness to taint herself by taking money on the eve of McMahon’s trial.

Saying he was a producer for the tabloid TV program A Current Affair, Bergman approached McMahon’s former secretary, Emily Feinberg, baiting her with $350,000 in return for a tell-all TV interview and work as a consultant on a supposed Fox movie about McMahon. Bergman was also in regular contact with Feinberg’s attorney, Steven Hyman, floating various money-making proposals, all of which would require Feinberg to dish dirt on McMahon and the WWF.

Hyman declined to speak with the Voice about his dealings with Bergman, saying that Feinberg and her husband, Michael, also a former WWF hand, did not want to speak with a reporter. However, several people familiar with the investigation have provided a detailed account of Bergman’s activities. Federal agents launched the probe last year after top officials in the Brooklyn prosecutor’s office learned of Bergman’s contact with Feinberg, his role in the Observer story, and his relationship with Brevetti. Law enforcement officials are examining whether Bergman, by offering cash to Feinberg, was illegally trying to set up “false impeachment” to be used against Feinberg during cross-examination. In a pretrial motion, Brevetti described Feinberg as the government’s “star witness” against McMahon....

After a series of Bergman contacts with Hyman in early 1994, Emily Feinberg agreed to meet Bergman with her lawyer at Sparks Steak House. Over dinner, Bergman offered no details of how Feinberg’s payments would be structured, only that “we’re talking about the threes,” a reference to more than $300,000. Blowing more smoke, Bergman also claimed that he wanted Sylvester Stallone to play McMahon in the Fox TV movie. Feinberg was convinced that Bergman’s entreaties were an attempt to get her to take money, which would then be used to discredit her testimony against McMahon. Until right before trial, Feinberg, who repeatedly rebuffed Bergman, was unaware that her pursuer lived and worked with Brevetti. [Bergman and Brevetti married later that year.]

A Current Affair
reporter John Johnston said last week that Bergman did some work for him as a paid freelancer on two WWF pieces–one aired in late 1993 and the other in April 1994–and that Bergman served as the “liaison” between him and McDevitt, one of McMahon’s lawyers. Bergman’s main contribution, though, was tracking down the whereabouts of Feinberg so “we were able to ambush her outside of her home.” Johnston added that Bergman’s talk with Feinberg of a six-figure deal was not on behalf of the TV tabloid.

Johnston claimed that until the Voice told him, he was unaware of Brevetti’s and Bergman’s personal relationship. “You’re kidding me. Oh my God,” Johnston said. “I had no idea, no clue whatsoever.” (Bergman’s apparent need-to-know approach to news of his marriage extended to two long-term business contacts interviewed last month. Bergman never told either person–one a lawyer, the other a real estate broker–that he had married Brevetti last September; in fact, neither professional knew he had any relationship with the defense lawyer.)

Bergman himself was subpoenaed during the McMahon trial and, if he had been called to testify, would have been queried about his contacts with Hyman and Feinberg....

The Voice has also learned that Bergman figured in another intrigue involving Feinberg and her husband. Michael Feinberg, who used to write scripts for the WWF, had drafted a book proposal dealing with his stint with McMahon; the outline did not promise an expose, but rather a comical look at the WWF. Bergman learned about the proposal through conversations with Hyman, sources said. Four days before McMahon’s trial opened, Brevetti served the Feinbergs with a subpoena calling for copies of any book proposals, outlines, or treatments prepared by the Feinbergs.

The request for the documents was denied by Judge Jacob Mishler, but the subject came up at the end of Brevetti’s cross-examination of Feinberg. Asked if she had any intention of writing a book, Feinberg said no. Brevetti then asked if Feinberg had collaborated with her husband on any book project dealing with the WWF. Again Feinberg said no. Her answers were accurate since Michael Feinberg alone had prepared the book proposal, a project his wife opposed.

Johnston said Bergman promised, but failed, to arrange an interview with McMahon before the WWF trial. With the proliferation of tabloid TV shows, the competition to line up such exclusives is intense, since these “gets,” as they are called in the television industry, drive the ratings. Bergman has tried his hand at arranging a few “gets,” but with limited success.

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (5th in a series – Open Questions From the New London Day Investigation)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989


“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day


The full version of Ted Mann’s follow-up story is in The Day’s Sunday edition. See “Ex-prosecutor says McMahon camp wrong on WWF warning,”

Here are some of the key open questions:

* Linda McMahon, World Wrestling Entertainment, and their law firm, K&L Gates, say that federal prosecutor James J. West tipped the firm’s Jack Krill about the investigation of Dr. George Zahorian. West denies that. Krill himself has not spoken directly and in detail about the alleged tip, and he should. The McMahon memo refers to the encounter between Krill and the government official at “a fundraiser.” West notes that, by policy, he would not have been attending a political fundraiser, but in fairness, Linda McMahon did not specify “political” fundraiser. To cut to the chase – Krill needs to tell the potential voters in the Connecticut Senate election exactly where and when he talked to West and what West allegedly told him.

* “This memo was seen by the jury” in Vince McMahon’s 1994 federal trial on steroid distribution and conspiracy charges, Linda McMahon’s campaign spokesman Ed Patru asserted. No, it was not. The jury saw a redacted version of the memo, in which the paragraph about how the company got tipped was blacked out. Period. End of paragraph.

* The McMahons were not charged with obstruction of justice. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t commit obstruction of justice. The Linda McMahon memo raises legitimate concerns in that area, especially in the context of her Senate candidacy. So do other tactics of the McMahon defense team. That is why the next post on this blog will go into more detail on the role of lead defense counsel Laura Brevitti’s husband, Martin Bergman, who initiated outrageously improper contact with one of the prosecution’s star witnesses, and arguably tried to suborn her testimony.

Irv Muchnick

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (4th in a Series — New London Day With Intriguing Follow-Up Story)

Ted Mann and The Day have published a coda to the story of the advance tip to steroid doctor George Zahorian that Linda McMahon directed in a 1989 memo.

See “Former prosecutor denies alerting McMahon to steroid probe,”

Ted Mann’s latest raises an intriguing new set of questions, and I’ll get to them shortly.

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (3rd in a series – The Wrestling Media Know Where the Bodies Are Buried)

”[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989

The hard-working James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch used the occasion of Ted Mann’s New London Day scoop to sift the archives for more on the upshot of Linda McMahon’s memo.

As World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt helpfully emphasized to Mann, “At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting...”

Caldwell, in his report at, has republished a passage of Torch coverage of Vince McMahon’s 1994 trial for conspiracy to distribute steroids – McMahon was acquitted. The following is from the testimony of Zahorian at his own trial three years earlier – he was convicted.

He (Zahorian) said later in 1989 he received a message to call (Pat) Patterson. When he called Patterson back, Patterson told him to call back on a pay phone. “He told me there was an investigation going on that concerned Titan Sports.” Because of the investigation, he said Patterson told him he and McMahon wanted him to destroy all information of phone numbers and information on wrestlers. “He said it may be something minor, but I should be careful. He said after this was over we could meet and continue with our relationship.” Zahorian said he took all records for wrestlers and put them in a storage area in the basement of his office building and eventually brought them to his lawyer’s office for protective custody.

Meanwhile, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter continues his headlong plunge to irrelevance. The dean of wrestling journalists, he is now more workaholic than hard worker. The workaholism is almost completely in service of his image – a mix of guru and diva.

In his web update, at, Meltzer makes two basic points: (1) This is all old news, and (2) Whatever flows from this – Linda McMahon getting ten-to-life or her election as secretary-general of the United Nations – be sure to remember that he told us so.

How sad to read someone capable of so much better, who knows and says scads but communicates little, because he grasps the intricacies of the cradle piledriver better than he understands journalistic and human context.

In the course of damning Ted Mann’s report with faint praise, Meltzer asserts that there is absolutely nothing new here. Meltzer is dead wrong. The pressure of the impending coverage forced McMahon to release the full, unredacted version of her 1989 memo to Patterson, which now includes for the first time the specific language about how one of the McMahon company lawyers found out about the federal investigation during a social encounter with a Justice Department prosecutor.

Over at Meltzer’s Internet radio update (available to subscribers only), he rambles almost incoherently for more than 15 minutes. At around the 3:00 mark of his conversation with fellow wrestling journalist Bryan Alvarez, Meltzer mentions in passing – then quickly and characteristically pooh-poohs – this nugget:

What happened – as I remember the trial – Patterson called from a pay phone and told Zahorian to destroy all the records of anything involving WWF wrestlers, and also I believe he was destroying records when the feds picked him up.

Well, glad Meltzer cleared up that there’s nothing there!

NEXT: Part 4 – No “Sunday bombshell” from Ted Mann, but your humble blogger fills the void with a little more detail on “the defense attorney, the fixer, and the Playboy model.”

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (2nd in a series – ‘The Day’ After)

”[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1, 1989

Again, hats off to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day for his breakthrough report “McMahon warned steroid doctor of investigation,”

I want to dispose quickly of the best information we have on the inside baseball of the publication of this story on Saturday rather than Sunday.

Most likely Linda McMahon operatives knew they faced bad news that could turn horrendous, and being the feisty “outsiders” that we all know they are, they turned to one of the oldest tricks in the Beltway playbook: the “Friday evening news dump.” You initiate release of the story at the onset of the weekend, when journalists are already checked out; by the time the non-witless get their wits, the short attention span of the witless has carried the day.

Whether the leak came from the McMahon camp or someone else, The Day’s hand was forced after Glenn Thrush and beat Mann late Friday afternoon with an inferior version of the same story. See “Memo: McMahon tipped steroid doctor,”

(By the way, Congressman Henry Waxman used a variation of the same trick when he chose Friday, January 2, 2009, as the day to punt to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy his voluminous findings on the inadequacies of World Wrestling Entertainment drug policies.)

In the age of the Internet and the 24/7 news cycle, I’m not so sure the Friday bad-news dump is a gambit that works as well as it used to.

Anyway, we’re all about to find out.

NEXT: Part 3 – The Wrestling Media Know Where Linda McMahon’s Bodies Are Buried

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (1st in a series)

“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day

The Sunday Linda McMahon bombshell to which I had alerted readers of this blog turned into the Friday evening Linda McMahon bombshell: the superb report in The Day that McMahon, in a 1989 memorandum, instructed a then-World Wrestling Federation executive to warn a Pennsylvania ring doctor, who was also the No. 1 illegal steroid connection of wrestlers, that he was under investigation.

See “McMahon warned steroid doctor of investigation,”

What is equally important is for everyone to take a gander at the unexpurgated December 1, 1989, memo from Linda McMahon to Pat Patterson:

In the third paragraph Linda tells Patterson that her husband Vince “would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

With extraordinary enterprise, reporter Ted Mann went out and uncovered a long-buried document that was produced at Vince McMahon’s 1994 steroid trafficking trial. The court record had redacted the second paragraph of the memo. But as part of her one-day exercise in transparency, the McMahon campaign calculated that it was wise to take the initiative of releasing the complete document.

The previously blacked-out verbiage explains how the McMahons’ lawyers, Jack Krill, got wind of the fact that Dr. Zahorian was “hot” at a social occasion with a Justice Department official. (The memo says “State Department,” but Linda McMahon acknowledges that she meant to say “Justice Department.”)

This story is valuable from every imaginable angle. In the McMahon-for-Senate morphology, the most significant may be that, for the first time, it puts Linda’s own fingerprints on the very foundations of pro wrestling’s steroid-and-death scandals. These words are not Vince’s; they are hers. Nor can this one be spun as an example of a “party atmosphere” that “evolved” over time to the upstanding “Wellness Policy” of today. It is, pure and simple, a company directive, from the very top, to tip a target of a federal criminal investigation – at the precise moment when the company was separating itself from him for precisely the same reason.

In the next post in this series, I’ll briefly explain why The Day rushed this piece onto the web late Friday and into print on Saturday, the lowest-circulation day of the newspaper week. But not tonight. Let’s keep our focus on Ted Mann’s fine work here. In February I wrote that the Brian Lockhart/Hearst investigation of the quashing of the Waxman Committee investigation had “filled a syringe with substance and injected it deep into the flabby gluteus maximus of Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign.” Today another enterprising Connecticut journalist showed us that the substance isn’t just steroids. It may be kryptonite.

In later posts, I will direct readers to other facets of what lawyer McDevitt called “obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting.”

Before doing so, I invite campaign watchers everywhere to bone up on “Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (complete text as a single post),”

If that’s more than you can handle in one sitting, consider reviewing “Part 4 – The Defense Lawyer, the ‘Fixer,’ and the Playboy Model,”

Good night from California.

Irv Muchnick

New Linda McMahon Bombshell to Drop Sunday

I have learned authoritatively that a major story on Linda McMahon’s experience running World Wrestling Entertainment will be published Sunday in a Connecticut newspaper.

The piece is expected to include at least one important new fact, directly tied to Linda (not just to her husband Vince or to WWE as a whole), which has never before seen light — not even on this blog or in my books. And since I am not known for holding anything back, you can be sure that I was not the source for it.

The article’s publisher is not Hearst, whose February 28 investigation by Brian Lockhart, “WWE steroid investigation: A controversy McMahon ‘doesn’t need,’”, is the most substantial probe of her background yet produced during the campaign by the Connecticut media.

Irv Muchnick

Retired Wrestler Lance ‘Storm’ Evers on Brain Trauma and the Death of Chris Kanyon

Pro wrestler Lance Evers (“Lance Storm”) is now mostly retired and training wannabes at home in Calgary. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that Evers was enraged when, just days after the death of Chris Kanyon, the wrestling promotion TNA – World Wrestling Entertainment’s main, though very weak, national rival – had one of its performers, Rob Terry, take an unprotected chair shot to the head on television.

Evers’ commentary (which I am reproducing in full below) bears reflection on several levels. A couple of commenters at this blog have made the point that WWE is not the only, and certainly is not the worst, offender when it comes to certain occupational health and safety standards, and they wonder why I don’t dwell on that.

The main reason I don’t choose that type of focus has nothing to do with whether I have any sympathy for the practices of WWE’s competitors. The co-founder and CEO of WWE is the one running for the U.S. Senate, and I don’t think Linda McMahon should be graded on the curve. In some respects she is somewhat more honorable than your average carny. In other respects she is the least honorable of them all.

The other fundamental reason for ignoring TNA is that few in the mainstream have heard of it. For the general public, WWE = pro wrestling. WWE owns a 90+ percent market share in North America and is the one brand with substantial global penetration.

And with power comes responsibility. Wrestling is “worked” or choreographed. Therefore, promoters have the ability to set standards, even more so than in legitimate sports. The No. 1 promoter does not successfully duck accountability for a drug-and-death culture it has fostered and stoked by arguing that others are as bad or worse.

Or is Linda McMahon’s argument for a Senate seat simply a political extension of Gresham’s law of economics: “bad money drives out good”?

Here is the full text of Lance Evers’ post about the chair shot to the head he witnessed Monday on TNA’s show on the Spike cable network.

Irv Muchnick


Yes, they have done chair shots to the head before, and they bothered me then too, but this one was different. This unprotected chair shot to the head came just two days after Chris Kanyon’s suicide death and I just couldn’t stomach it. I know there will be defenders out there that will want to argue that Chris Kanyon’s depression that led to his suicide has not been determined to be as a result of concussions he suffered due to chair shots to the head, but that is just a cop out, in my opinion.

Sure, you could argue that one chair shot to the head does not necessarily result in a concussion, and one concussion does not necessarily result in brain damage or depression, and not everyone with depression commits suicide, but let’s be real. Anyone who tries to deny that concussions aren’t very bad are idiots and they need to go have a talk with Chris Nowinski and the Sports Legacy Institute. I’ve spoken at length with Chris and a couple of the doctors doing research into concussions and there is not a whole lot of doubt that concussions cause bran damage and depression, and instances of suicide increase dramatically as a result of this brain trauma.

The wrestling industry has suffered an incredible number of deaths due to drug use, steroid use, and suicide over the last several years, and in a post- Benoit tragedy world, seeing a wrestling company put no effort forth to protect its talent roster offends me to no end.

Let’s just look at this one incident, and this is not meant to be a burial of Rob Terry. I don’t even know the guy, and I wish him all the success in the world, but I think this really needs to be said. I’m genuinely concerned for the well being of people in this business, and after the incredible number of deaths this industry has suffered over the years, someone has to say something. I’m not looking to place blame for past events. I’m looking for action now to improve the future.

Rob Terry took a stiff unprotected chair shot to the head last night on Impact. The chair shot to the head was intended to help get him over as a monster. Why is Rob Terry getting this push? Rob Terry is getting this push because of his body. TNA likes his look. Unless you have your head completely buried in the sand, you know one of the main contributing components to a body like Rob Terry’s, and we know the health risks involved with it. Steroid use, while likely not lethal on its down, does greatly increase one’s chances of a heart attack at a young age. Far too many wrestler deaths are due to a heart attack, and while steroid use is usually only a contributing factor, not the sole cause, it can not be argued that steroids played a significant role in many early heart attack deaths in this business.

We also know that getting off steroids after years of use/abuse can lead to depression. We also know that concussions lead to brain drama which can result in depression. Depression in athletes often leads to suicide, which it unfortunately did in the case of Chris Kanyon.

What a horrible tribute this was to the death of Chris Kanyon. How the people in charge of TNA can either be this insensitive or this oblivious is beyond me — When is this industry and the people in it going to wake up and learn from the death toll this business has experienced? Thankfully WWE is taking steps forward with their Wellness policy and the banning of chair shots to the head, but TNA seems content to seek short term shock value ratings and ignore the horrific long term writing on the well.

I am beyond sympathy and to the point of rage when I have to add a new name to the list (of wrestlers worked with that died young), and while steroid use and concussions are not the only cause of these deaths, denying they play a significant role in many of them is ludicrous and we have to start taking every step possible to protect the health and well being of the people in this industry. The people on the list are not without blame. Almost all went down their road willingly, so it’s time for the industry to step up and start protecting its own (like WWE is trying to do with Wellness), and maybe it’s time for fans to demand it too.