Linda McMahon has a crisis on her hands — and it has nothing to do with her opponent in Connecticut's Senate race, Democrat Richard Blumenthal. The recent death of a former professional wrestler — from heart failure, at age 29 — has focused attention on a series of athlete deaths, some linked to steroid abuse, during McMahon's tenure as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon deflected blame, saying she had only met the dead man, Lance McNaught, who wrestled under the name Lance Cade, once. But McNaught's father angrily said McMahon knew his son better than she admits, calling her attempt to brush off the tragedy "disrespectful." Will the bad publicity sink McMahon's campaign? (Watch McMahon defend the WWE)
Yes, this could undermine McMahon's Senate bid: Linda McMahon has been accused of "turning a blind eye to rampant drug use" before, says Avi Zenilman at New York magazine, but up to now she has convinced voters that "her association with the ball-kicking, roid-raging world of the WWE" was a non-issue. Now she has "a much bigger political problem" — a grieving dad who's calling her a liar. With this kind of negative publicity, maybe McMahon's WWE past will "kneecap her campaign," after all.
"The father of a dead wrestler calls Linda McMahon a liar"
It's unfair to attack McMahon for Lance Cade's death: Pro wrestling obviously has a drug problem, says blogger The Masked Man at Deadspin. But the WWE has a drug testing policy in place — and fired McNaught three times for abusing pain-killers. It's fair to ask McMahon whether her company did enough to keep its employees safe, but it would be wrong for Democrats to attempt to make "political hay" from the death of a "deceptively fragile young man" who took deadly risks to succeed in showbiz.
"What Lance Cade's death means for Linda McMahon's Senate bid"
Everything about McMahon's WWE past is fair game: Saying Lance Cade "made bad choices" doesn't get McMahon off the hook, says Peter Applebome in The New York Times. She's "fueling her race" with millions she made from pro wrestling, and she chose to make "her feel-good entrepreneurial story" a centerpiece in her campaign. So the fate of Lance Cade and the other "pumped-up behemoths" is a perfectly legitimate issue — voters have a right to know what McMahon was willing to do to keep her "circus running."
"Politics, wrestling and accountability"