A Connecticut newspaper writer has once again drawn the ire of WWE for editorial remarks they feel are inaccurate and damaging to their corporate reputation.
In a May Darien Times editorial criticizing Linda McMahon’s United States Senate campaign, Joshua Fisher dismissed WWE’s product as “barely above pornography.” The article drew a strongly-worded response from WWE in defense of their product, which led Fisher to point out televised incidents that could be defined as pornography, such as Edge and Lita’s unprecedented Live Sex Celebration and Trish Stratus stripping her clothes off and barking like a dog for company chief Vince McMahon.
Fisher wrote another column last week criticizing Linda McMahon where he stated that it’s strange that she says she’s not a career politician “because she can bob and weave a question like some of the best politicians around.” He also dismissed Linda’s boastful proclamations of creating jobs.
He writes, “Mrs. McMahon loves to point out how she’s created jobs. But she does not like to answer questions about those jobs. While CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, she created jobs that included making fun of retarded men, demeaning women and possibly encouraging steroid use — this does not even touch on how it possibly has influenced the future bullies of American schools.”
Fisher’s remarks rattled WWE, who feel his ‘misstatements’ are damaging to their corporate reputation. WWE issued a letter to the Darien TimesTuesday in response to Fisher, which was also published on WWE.com. Darien Times also published the letter, with editor Brian Flinn noting the previous editorial WWE is referring to “is all based on fact.” In the letter, Fisher included links to various videos and articles of matters WWE asserts are inaccurate.
Dear Mr. Fisher:
It is regrettable that we find it necessary to once again point out that you have made inaccurate statements and mischaracterizations in the Darien Times regarding WWE, this time in your editorial on July 12. Although this was an opinion piece, you are still required to report accurately and not distort the truth. This is now at least the second instance in which you have made misstatements that damage WWE’s corporate reputation.
Your assertion that WWE has made “fun of retarded men” is inaccurate, takes our content completely out of context and fails to factually portray a storyline. WWE featured a character — an actor playing a role — named “Eugene,” who was a person with intellectual disabilities. He was often faced with difficult challenges, situations and rivals, including some of the most villainous and dastardly WWE characters. What you failed to convey is that Eugene, like most of WWE’s “good guys,” overcame the obstacles, prevailed and was a hero to our millions of fans.
Your statement that WWE was “demeaning women” is also inaccurate and again takes our content out of context and makes no mention of storylines. WWE has produced a variety of powerful and heroic female characters throughout the years that have come up against malicious villains, who are also actors playing a role. And yes, those “bad guys” do reprehensible things, but they eventually pay a price for their behavior. Our television audience would not be nearly 40 percent female if we were degrading women.
As it relates to the foregoing clarifications, it is important to note that WWE programming, like Hollywood movies and Broadway shows, is an exciting blend of action, characters and fictional storylines of good versus evil that entertains millions every week. Without Darth Vader there is no Luke Skywalker. We, too, create protagonists and antagonists and tell stories of good versus evil.
You also wrote that WWE has been “encouraging steroid use,” which is a blatant misstatement of fact. WWE prohibits steroid use and conducts a minimum of four random drug tests per year for all talent, and any performer that tests positive is suspended. WWE began testing for steroids in 2006, before many major sports leagues, and we currently have one of the most comprehensive talent wellness programs in all of sports and entertainment, managed by world renowned third party medical experts. Additionally, WWE has always encouraged its talent to live a healthy lifestyle, as they are the company’s greatest asset. For more information about WWE’s talent wellness program, please visit corporate.wwe.com.
In your editorial, you also state that WWE “influenced the future bullies of American schools.” The fact is that WWE promotes anti-bullying and has created a global initiative called be a STAR (ShowToleranceAndRespect) designed to teach children how to deal with conflict in the real world. We recognize the power and influence of our brand and spend a considerable amount of time and resources to make sure children understand the difference between what they see on television, where storylines and conflicts are resolved in the ring, versus how to deal with challenges in everyday life.
WWE expects you will print this letter in as public a manner as that in which you made the foregoing false statements. In the future, we request you contact us for factual information about our company before attempting to characterize our programming as you continue to do so erroneously.
Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications