OP-ED | It’s The Truth That Hurts
As a single mother (the cause of much of society’s ills in his eyes) I don’t often see eye to eye with Chris Powell, Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer. But given conversations I’ve had with disgruntled Republicans, I know I’m not alone in agreeing with some of the sentiments expressed in Powell’s May 21st opinion column “Does Connecticut really not know McMahon yet?”
Powell rightfully questions Linda McMahon’s current assertion that she lost the 2010 race to Richard Blumenthal by 12 points in a year when Republicans made major gains across the rest of the country because people didn’t get to know her well enough- this despite a $50 million mostly self-funded campaign.
“If, having spent several times more money than had ever been spent on a campaign in Connecticut, a candidate isn’t known well enough, whose fault would that be?” Powell wrote. “But of course nearly everyone knew very well who McMahon was—that was the problem. 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.”
World Wrestling Entertainment, the company whose success provides the core of Mrs. McMahon’s “job creator” narrative – not to mention the wealth which funded her unsuccessful 2010 campaign - sent Mr. Powell a threatening letter, taking issue with his characterization of the business as one of “violence” and “pornography.” In the letter, Brian Flinn, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communication, made a point to employ the term “malice” as often as possible, to bolster the threatened the threat of a forthcoming libel suit. Tellingly, even Flinn couldn’t take exception to “general raunch” with a straight face.
We all know that since 2008, the WWE has been in the process of cleaning up its act and becoming more “family friendly.” But no matter how hard she tries to gild the lily, the bulk of Mrs. McMahon’s fortune wasn’t built on such PG-13 rated entertainment. It might not be hard core, but judge for yourself.
As Justice Potter Stewart observed in Jacobellis v Ohio, “I know it when I see it.”
Mrs. McMahon claims this is a completely uncoordinated attack that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she is running for office. “I read about the letter that had gone to Chris Powell in my press clippings, and that’s the first I knew about it,” McMahon said.
Sure, Linda. And I’ve got a bridge to sell you. In Brooklyn.
Mrs. McMahon retained the tiniest soupcon of believability if Flinn hadn’t cc’d the letter to most of the political journalists in the state. By doing that, it became crystal clear that this letter was a message to all of us: talk about WWE’s sordid past at your peril.
I can think of many reasons why Mrs. McMahon is an unsuitable candidate for the US Senate, but using your corporation to intimidate the press whilst disingenuously maintaining implausible deniability is the most important.
“The function of the press is very high. It is almost holy. It ought to serve as a forum for the people, through which the people may know freely what is going on. To misstate or suppress the news is a breach of trust,” said Justice Louis D. Brandeis.
We’ve already had enough of that this election season. More than one major CT news organization was informed in great detail of how Senate candidate Lee Whitnum was harassing myself and another CT blogger. We provided copies of the police complaints that have been filed against her by my mother and his parents. I have the voice recording of the message she left on my mother’s answering machine when Ms. Whitnum called back after Mom hung up on her for calling at 11:15 pm at night, not to mention the numerous voicemails she left on my neighbor’s machine, my ex-husband’s and my neighbor’s cellphone (my neighbor couldn’t understand how Whitnum got the number).
And yet, there was silence.
Four years ago, I made the CT Jewish Ledgers Movers and Shakers List being the only person at the Advocate and Greenwich Time willing to call Whitnum out for her behavior . I lost my columnist gig for six months or so for the privilege, but it was worth it.
If members of the press are too afraid to print that the Emperor – or the Empress – isn’t wearing any clothes, we might as well pack up our laptops and cameras and say goodbye to a democracy that is already well on the way to being bought by the highest bidder.
Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. Long before the financial meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU