Remember the backstage brawl between Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair at Monday Night RAW in front of WrestleMania 35 in 2019? Well, apparently at least one person thought it was real.
According to a report by Politico on Thursday, Michael Caputo, top spokesman for the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was assigned to oversee an advertising campaign to “defeat” the “despair” over the corona virus. Caputo, who was appointed by President Trump in April, seized $300 million from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to fund the campaign, and the campaign screened at least 274 celebrities for possible PSA participation.
Rousey was among the celebrities reviewed. The review process included details of the celebrities’ policies, including whether they had been personally critical of Trump.
A document obtained by the House Oversight Committee and provided to Politico was entitled “PSA Celebrity Tracker,” a list of celebrities who could potentially participate in the campaign.
Rousey’s name was annotated with the following: “The publicly supported Democratic Party candidate, Bernie Sanders, for the 2016 election. Temporarily anti-feminist view. Arrested during the 2019 WWE event”.
This last line refers to the aforementioned backstage brawl during the April 1 episode of Monday Night RAW in which Rousey, Lynch and Flair were handcuffed and taken into custody.
Of course, it was all for show, but the performance was good enough to make a person involved in the information gathering believe it was real.
The campaign apparently collapsed after an investigation by Politico last month, which reported that it had been conceived at a meeting between Trump government officials and campaign contractors. Other documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee as part of its investigation of the campaign also illustrated how political considerations shaped the campaign as the parties tried to get the ad on the air before election day.
Actor Dennis Quaid and gospel singer CeCe Winans, who agreed to participate in the campaign, withdrew after the September Politico report, stating that they were focused exclusively on promoting public health and did not want to be political. Other celebrities also withdrew.
HHS secretary Alexa Azar has since ordered a review of the campaign.
“The review is underway,” an HHS spokesperson told Politico in a statement. “The plan has always been to use only materials reviewed by a departmental team of experts, including scientists from the CDC, who will ensure that the latest scientific information is used to provide important public health information, therapies and vaccines.
President Trump’s relationship with the WWE has attracted some media attention in the past. He was involved in a WWE story with Vince McMahon in 2007 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the 2013 vintage. Trump allegedly also believed that the infamous limousine explosion with Vince McMahon in late 2007 was real and called to make sure McMahon was okay…