Linda Sánchez, the U.S. Representative for California’s 39th congressional district, is being criticized for promoting WWE’s multi-platform, nationwide anti-bullying campaign, “be a STAR,” at a rally last Friday at Whittier, California’s Parnell Park in the Los Angeles area. She had a Twitter exchange with Irv Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death and Wrestling Babylon, regarding her appearance, who noted his displeasure with his favorite congressperson on football brain injuries being “coopted by WWE/Linda McMahon propaganda.”
Sánchez responded to his remark, tweeting, “As a mother & lawmaker, bullying prevention is very important 2 me. I speak w/ kids re: the dangers of bullying any chance I get.” Muchnick then wrote, “Respectfully, I don’t think you know background of why WWE, biggest bully on the block, is involved in this campaign….”
Sánchez’s communications director, Adam Hudson, responded to Muchnik’s concerns Monday via e-mail: “We saw your Tweets regarding Linda speaking at anti-bullying events with the WWE and other celebrities. I’m happy to follow up on why Linda was there if you would like. Regards.”
Muchnick then gave a lengthy response stating his belief that prominent politicians such as herself and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also spoke at the anti-bullying rally, should not get in bed with WWE by covering, “or, worse, extolling the company’s self-aggrandizing propaganda.” He details the hypocrisy of WWE promoting an anti-bullying campaign when the sports-entertainment organization, or rather, the McMahon family, has ingrained a toxic culture of bullying in their workplace. He notes, “WWE became part of the Be A Star campaign in the first place only because the company was dealing with the public relations fallout of controversial actions, gestures, and public utterances of its performers, which put them at odds with organizations such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.”
Muchnick then lists examples of WWE compromising its anti-bullying campaign, including company chief Vince McMahon mocking announcer Jim Ross’ affliction with Bell’s Palsy in a backstage segment on the June 11 episode of Raw. He details, “Recently, to great televised and dressing-room glee, the Monday Night Raw program on the USA cable network broadcast a parody of on-and-off announcer and company executive Jim Ross. Mocking Mr. Ross’s bouts with the disease Bell’s Palsy, which has partially paralyzed his face, the talent performing the parody twisted his own mouth theatrically and grotesquely, while a commentator chimed in with unrestrained mirth. Here, the on-air bullying anecdote harshly illuminated the same methods in WWE’s backstage relations with its own employees.”
Muchnick adds, “I think our conversation on this matter can advance public understanding of the bullying issue, as well as provide fodder for the Senate race in Connecticut between Ms. McMahon and her Democratic opponent, Chris Murphy.”
To read Muchnick’s full response on the matter, click here.