Mick Foley's latest blog post is not nearly as long as his bizarre rant about Dave Meltzer, but it's more of the same to his certain degree. In this week's edition of TL;DR Theater, he whines about the mainstream media and how they treated him after interviewing him for newspaper articles about Linda McMahon, WWE, and wrestler deaths. After the usual self-aggrandizing opening paragraph, in this case giving context to the chapter about the Parents Television Council (which he was partially ghostwritten, a fact that he omits) in his second book, he dives into criticism of Raymond Hernandez and his New York Times piece on McMahon.
I spoke to Mr. Hernandez for his July 16th article about Mrs. McMahon, a largely negative piece which painted Mrs. McMahon's WWE as a company that used and discarded broken wrestlers as a means of attaining prosperity. Although I spoke to him for several minutes, and sent him a galley (unfinished proof) of the upcoming book, promising him that two specific chapters explored most of the questions he asked in great detail, I was surprised to find that my name was never mentioned in his article. No quotes, no mention whatsoever; as if we had never spoken at all. At the time of our conversation, Mr. Hernandez was not aware that I had done any writing at all (I guess he didn't check out which books were at #1 on his own newspaper's best-seller list) or that I had been successful in professional wrestling. "Oh, did you do well?", he asked me at one point in our conversation. "Yes, I did pretty well", I told him. Pretty, pretty, pretty well.
I didn't think too much of this slight, until having a conversation with Kevin Nash a few weeks later, in which Nash told me his comments had been largely ignored by Hernandez as well. Hmm, this seemed somewhat suspicious; two former WWE champions, both of us fairly well spoken, each of us men of fairly strong opinion in matters related to wrestling, and politics. Why, I asked Kevin, did he think that our opinions had not been utilized? "Because we didn't bury WWE?", Kevin said. Exactly. In my opinion, our comments were ignored because they mentioned issues like personal responsibility, individual financial planning, and a realistic outlook on what the wrestling business does and does not owe its practitioners. Obviously, each wrestler's opinion matters, and the wrestlers that Mr. Hernandez chose to quote expressed serious concerns, but to leave out the well reasoned responses from two fairly notable figures in the wrestling world seems to back up my worst suspicions of the media; that all too often reporters forsake actual reporting in favor of founding quick quotes or sound-bites that are just meant to solidify a preconceived opinion.
Boo hoo. Hernandez wrote a perfectly fine story. While we don't know exactly what Foley said and how it would have fit in, the omission of it doesn't imply the existence of some grand conspiracy or agenda to suppress his opinions. I'm shocked that he hasn't written a massive blog post each time that he appeared with his friend Dee Snider on a reality show and Snider was the only one identified in the program.
I was quoted a few times in Mr. Stannard's piece in the New Haven Register, I was quoted a few times, and I must say that I thought Mr. Stannard did a good job of showing both sides of a very contentious issue - the recent deaths of former WWE wrestlers Luna Vachon and Lance Cade. But I was somewhat surprised at Mr. Stannard's total lack of wrestling knowledge, especially when considering the consequences that just might be hanging in the balance; a seat in the United States Senate, and, not inconceivably, the entire balance of power of that branch of Congress. At one point in my conversation with Mr Stannard, I mentioned that the issue of independent contractor status was more complicated than it might seem, and that he might, for example have trouble convincing John Cena to give up his quarterly royalty check in return for employer paid health care benefits.
"Who's that?", Mr Stannard asked. "You mean John Cena?", I said. Mr Stannard confirmed that he was not aware of who Mr Cena was, at which point I asked very politely how he could possibly attempt to understand the complexities of a business like professional wrestling, without even knowing the name of the biggest star in it. Actually, it was at that point that I asked myself the mental question, "whatever happened to research?" Equally shocking, however, was the fact that Mr. Stannard had never heard of "Smackdown Your Vote", the WWE's successful and non-partisan (you might say bi-partisan, as wrestlers, including this one, were encouraged to express their political beliefs) campaign to increase voting among younger Americans,
Look, I know that newspapers are on the downslide, and that Mr Stannard was kind of a jack of all trades at his paper, covering not only politics, but science and religion as well. But would he really enter into an article on science or religion without knowing the very basics of the issue at hand? I think not - which seems to back up another suspicion I have of the media; that they simply don't do their homework when it comes to these stories on wrestling. In my 2001 book, Foley is Good, I took political commentator Margaret Carlson to task for writing that The Rock was an "anti-black" skinhead, without taking the time to learn that his father was African American. Anyone who has followed Ms. Carlson's work over the years, in print and on television, knows that she is a thoughful journalist. But not when it came to expressing her views on wrestling, which were entirely thoughtless. I wondered whether she would face the slightest journalistic reprimand for an erroneous assault on a man's character, before guessing the answer to be "no", on the grounds that wrestling itself wasn't important enough to research properly, let alone be held accountable for.
He has a point...to a degree. While not knowing who John Cena is when writing a piece about WWE in 2010 is a bit much, it wouldn't really have any influence over the issues covered by that story. Knowledge of John Cena has no bearing on the reporting of effects of head trauma, painkiller use in wrestling, WWE's offer of free rehab for any wrestler who ever had a booking contract with them, and their classification of its wrestlers as independent contractors. Besides, Stannard's piece was much more positive towards WWE than most, including lots of pro-WWE comments from wrestlers. Those wrestlers include Matt Borne, whose largely under the radar wrestling school is suddenly going to play host for a WWE scouting camp (only $325 per person!) attended by John Laurinaitis and Ty Bailey of their Talent Relations department. Funny how that works.
That said, it's interesting to see him being much less harsh towards Margaret Carlson than he was a decade ago, and he is absolutely right that it's a systemic problem when it comes to the mainstream reporting on pro wrestling.
The rest of the post deals with how impressed he was by Rachel Maddow's preparedness and how awesome he thinks she is. Well, I'll agree with that, too.
Mick Foley was my favorite wrestler for years, but he become utterly insufferable over the course of the last decade.