One of the candidates running for Senator in Connecticut is Linda McMahon, formerly CEO of WWE. She gave up her post with WWE in 2009, before she began her first attempt in 2010. She has a large fortune and had no problem dropping $50 million of her own money in that failed run for the Senate. She will probably spend in a similar fashion this year.
Her history with the WWE is well-known. She cites it as a testament to her business acumen and ability to create jobs; but it has also been used to call her values into question. Chris Powell, the managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, posted an opinion piece in which he said
Her practical qualifications for office did not extend beyond her fantastic wealth, and that wealth derived from the business of violence, pornography, and general raunch.
The blowback was swift. WWE Vice President Brian Flynn demanded a retraction from the JI by June 4, or else “we will seek legal and all available remedies.”
I’m no expert on the WWE. I haven’t watched much professional “wrestling” since the days of Haystack Calhoun and Man Mountain Dean; but I can certainly back up Powell’s accusations of “violence” and “general raunch.” The first goes without saying: WWE is not selling powder puffs and wrinkle creams to audiences of screaming fans. As for “general raunch,” you have to pay big money to see the good stuff; but here’s a teaser from their website. I’d rate it BBB, for Bring Barf Bag.
I’m not willing to spend my limited income sniffing out stuff that crosses the line. So far as I’m concerned, the clip I referenced is as close to BDSM as you’re likely to see on an open website. It’s not pornographic, but it is titillating. Considering that it’s just a trailer, I’d be pretty disappointed if the pay-per-view version didn’t offer a lot more.
Bear in mind that WWE is not mentioned by name in Powell’s column; McMahon has supposedly severed her ties to the company; McMahon says she knew nothing about the lawsuit; so what business is it of theirs?
That’s a disingenuous question, of course. McMahon brags about her work at WWE (it’s a family business) constantly; but candidate McMahon doesn’t have to defend herself. WWE, as her proxy, can fight that battle. WWE is an albatross around her neck, or the financial wind beneath her wings, depending upon your sympathies and point of view.
I don’t know much about the relevant law, but McMahon is a “public person” and has limited protection from slander and libel. WWE might be in a better position to go on the attack, but I doubt that they have any right to muzzle a newspaper. What they can do is create a chilling atmosphere, and that’s the last thing we need during an election.