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WSJ reporters discuss Vince McMahon hush money story reporting

Joe Palazzolo & Ted Mann talked to Busted Open Radio Monday about the story
Vince McMahon

For the first time since their two stories on Vince McMahon's alleged hush pacts were released, The Wall Street Journal's Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann talked about their reporting on the WWE chairman and that there might be more to come.

Speaking to Busted Open Radio Monday, Palazzolo and Mann said they began working on the story in April when they first heard about the initial special committee investigation regarding an alleged $3 million hush pact McMahon had with a former subordinate.

Palazzolo said the reason they covered the story is that the WSJ covers public companies and in this situation, "This is clearly a governance issue. We write for investors and when your Board of Directors is investigating something like this, it's pretty interesting." 

They later noted their call list for these stories was over 100 people.

Mann added even though the company said the McMahon relationship was consensual, they started hearing about other issues that were not. He said that power dynamics where doing something you don't want to do, but feel you have to because you want to keep your job can be dangerous for other subordinates and that public companies have taken stances against not allowing those actions to be swept under the rug.

"When you see that in this case, it was a total secret from the Board, or at least some members of the Board for a long time, we find it interesting and that makes us wants to make go digging and find out more," he said.

Palazzolo said, "If you're seeing your chief executives not only permitting this kind of conduct, but engaging and leading the way with it, that's a problem all the way down."

When asked what information surprised them in their investigation, Mann said the $7.5 million payout to a former wrestler "was fairly eye-popping."

"That's a figure in the murky world of NDAs that clearly suggests a big secret being kept. That was one of the red flags that signaled to us that we needed to get to the bottom of what it was and what that was for," he said.

When asked why their second report hasn't broken bigger in terms of mainstream media outlets, they weren't sure. They said they heard a lot of "look at the character he plays" and "this shouldn't be a surprise" following their stories.

They said with relation to WWE's various business partners, this story "can't be something they aren't paying attention to. Anyone doing business with the company is paying attention."

When asked if they expect more allegations to emerge, Palazzolo said it's "probably not done yet" as they are continuing to report on the story. They don't have anything "in their back pocket" in terms of allegations and nothing they have heard that was larger than the $7.5 million payout.

While McMahon has yet to talk to the duo, Mann said if they did, they "would ask why he paid all that money and whether he paid any more money."