One problem that has been consistent throughout WWE's checkered history is that they are notoriously bad at handling public relations when faced with a crisis, often pouring gasoline on a smouldering fire with their deceitful and hardball tactics when a more honest and conciliatory approach was necessary. The latest example of this is WWE's threatened legal action against Connecticut journalist Chris Powell for saying in a column that Linda McMahon's wealth "derived from the business of violence, pornography, and general raunch".
WWE should have just let that comment slide, as the criticism was nothing that hadn't been frequently said during Linda's last campaign run in 2010 and no-one batted an eyelid at it until WWE's legal letter was sent. As Dave Meltzer notes, with a retraction not forthcoming, WWE are now backed into a corner where they either follow through on their threat and quickly lose the case or be forced to publicly back down with their tail tucked between their legs. Either way it will turn out to be a complete embarrassment for WWE and a black eye for Linda McMahon, who seemed to have the Republican nomination in the bag. Now, some in the Republican party may be second guessing their decision to get into bed with the money of the McMahon family again.
Powell has fought back with a column detailing WWE's most notorious skits that were sexual in nature including the Trish Stratus humiliation angles, Eric Bischoff's Hot Lesbian Action, the Edge and Lita live sex show, and the Katie Vick angle where Triple H simulated necrophilia. I guess he wasn't aware of Stacy "The Kat" Carter flashing her breasts on pay-per-view at Armageddon '99 or 77 year old Mae Young soon after following suit while wearing a prosthesis to win a bikini contest at Royal Rumble 2000, which arguably were even more pornographic in nature.
The Connecticut media has largely rallied round Powell in support, either agreeing with his assessment of WWE's product in the past or criticising WWE for their stupidity, bullying and intimidation. Linda McMahon, already highly unfavourable with a significant percentage of her potential voters, could do without this deluge of bad publicity.
So Linda's once again in the uneasy position of having to pretend that her husband Vince McMahon's decisions on this matter are solely to protect WWE and not a tactic to help her out, claiming to the Connecticut Mirror that she was caught completely unaware by the litigation threat against Powell:
I left WWE in 2009. Yes, I'm still married to the chairman, but really what WWE does, it believes is right for it to do for its own business, is totally what it's doing.
I read about the letter that had gone to Chris Powell in my press clippings, and that's the first I knew about it.
Unsurprisingly, WWE's spokesman Bob Josephson agreed with Linda's assessment:
WWE is a global television content creator and a publicly traded company whose core business is monetizing that very television content. When our content is unfairly mischaracterized, it seriously jeopardizes our business.
The right to hold and express opinions is not the same as making the false statement of fact that WWE is in 'the business of pornography,' as Mr. Powell did. False factual statements about the nature of our business is not the expression of opinion and serves only to maliciously damage our business and impugn the integrity of the hundreds of our Connecticut based employees who work very hard to produce some of the longest running and most popular shows on television.
WWE refuses to be bullied and will not allow our content to be inaccurately categorized. This is not about politics or Linda McMahon's candidacy. This is about protecting WWE's business and setting the record straight that WWE has never been in the business of pornography. We must vigorously defend our company with any and all resources at our disposal.
For two sides that are supposedly not working together, they seem to be remarkably on the exact same page. Just like they have been since day one.