WWE News: Phil Mushnick Rips Rick Santorum for Past Association with the Company

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WWE News: Phil Mushnick Rips Rick Santorum for Past Association with the Company
Rick Santorum (Photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

In today's New York Post, sports columnist and longtime WWE enemy Phil Mushnick has written a piece about what he refers to as presidential candidate and former United States Senator Rick Santorum's "slimy WWE past."

It's pretty much what you'd expect from Mushnick, who has been a vocal opponent of WWE's marketing to children for many years, has shined a light on the high rate of wrestler deaths and originally broke the story about allegations of sexual harrassment and child sex abuse by WWE staff.

Before getting into the content of the article, it's worth putting both Mushnick's and Santorum's past history with WWE into context.

Generally, while hyperbolic, Mushnick has made reasonable points about the company. In 1997, when also writing for TV Guide, he went a bit too far, insulting wrestling fans. As quoted by Jim Cornette in the infamous segment on Raw that went a long way in mobilizing wrestling fans against Mushnick:

"If not for the lunatic fringe and the disaffected, WCW would be out of business. If you can tell me that you would bring an important child in your life to a pro wrestling match, I have no gripe with you, because you clearly don't know right from wrong. And the overwhelming majority of the wrestling fans who contact me simply prove my point, by flooding my mailbox with profanities, obscenities, and other acts that show them to be a disenfranchised subculture."

In an interview with Dave Meltzer a few years later, Mushnick did admit to going too far by insulting wrestling fans as a group. It was too late though, and now you'll be hard-pressed to find fans who take him seriously as a result.

As for Rick Santorum, he came into contact with WWE when Jim Neidhart (father of current WWE Diva Natalya Neidhart) was arrested for assaulting a flight attendant. Neidhart swore he was innocent and Vince McMahon believed him. McMahon, feeling this was a case of wrestlers being stereotyped and railroaded, fronted him the money for his defense and then, when he was acquitted, a subsequent lawsuit against American Airlines.

 

Santorum was Neidhart's lawyer and got him a sizable settlement. McMahon was so impressed that he hired Santorum and his firm, K&L Gates, as lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Jerry McDevitt of K&L Gates continues to serve as WWE's outside counsel to this day.

In today's Post article, Mushnick writes:

"For the most part, all the public knows is that Santorum claims to be a strong family values man, including his devotion to religion — the two are often seen as one. Yep, faith and family; if you’re not a devout religionist you can’t love your family. Sounds like something out of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But nowhere on TV has it even been suggested that Santorum’s great regard for God and family seems to have a literary precedent in Sinclair Lewis’ “Elmer Gantry.” Santorum’s career, if anyone bothered to look, has shown steady service to the first family of cable TV sleaze, work-related drug deaths and the desensitization of kids to violence — pro wrestling’s McMahon Family.

In the late 1980s, as investigative reporter and pro wrestling chronicler Irv Muchnick (no relation) has written, Santorum served as a WWE (then WWF) lobbyist while a lawyer for the Pittsburgh firm that the McMahons still keep busy.

Two years ago, Santorum endorsed Linda McMahon in her failed run for US Senator from Connecticut."

He goes on to write about D-Generation X encouraging kids to chant "suck it" and whatnot, though Santorum had no association with the company by that point. Your mileage may vary as to how his endorsement of Linda McMahon factors into all of this.

Obviously, I think this is definitely a subject worth writing about, but it would probably be more interesting if someone dug up records from Neidhart's court case and Santorum's lobbying work for WWE.

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