The campaign has barely started, but Linda McMahon and the WWE already are tired of folks describing their programming as violence and porn. On Thursday they responded to two such statements.
One came from the Manchester Journal Inquirer’s managing editor Chris Powell, who, in a Monday column, said McMahon derived her wealth from “the business of violence, pornography, and general raunch.”
The WWE shot back with a letter calling on Powell for a retraction and threatening legal action. In the letter, Senior Vice President for Marketing and Communications Brian Flinn said the comments were malicious and libelous.
“As any casual television viewer knows, based on the Federal Communications Commission’s rules alone, WWE’s programs would not be permitted on broadcast television or basic cable if in fact they were pornography. WWE is family entertainment,” he wrote.
Reached by phone, Powell was dismissive of the legal threat. He said he had received the letter and asked the WWE if they wanted it published.
“I also asked if we could get the depositions done before the Republican primary because I wanted to meet Trish,” he said.
Powell said he was referring to a woman who, during a WWE performance, McMahon’s husband Vince made undress in the ring and crawl around on all fours, barking like a dog. He said interested parties could find the video on YouTube but would need to verify their age first because of the video’s “pornographic nature.”
Powell also points out he never mentioned the WWE by name in his column.
McMahon’s campaign also criticised Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Susan Bysiewicz, who, during a debate on WNPR Thursday, said she was running so someone like McMahon wouldn’t be elected.
“I’ll be darned if I let someone who sells sex and violence and pornography for a living be our next United States senator,” she said.
The McMahon campaign responded by calling the comments a “dishonest and disingenuous” attack.
Erin Isaac, McMahon’s campaign communications director, also pointed out that Bysiewicz, as Secretary of the State, had no problem being associated with the WWE in the past when she participated in the company’s “Smackdown Your Vote” campaign at high schools with WWE stars.
Bysiewicz even wrote to former Gov. M. Jodi Rell on McMahon’s behalf, supporting her appointment to the state Board of Education, Isaac said.
In a statement, Bysiewicz’s campaign manager Jonathan Ducote said she was an effective Secretary of the State because she worked with a variety of organizations to increase voter participation.
“However, she does not believe that the citizens she worked to register are best represented by an individual who has a well documented history of putting profits before the health and safety of her employees,” Ducote said.