I don’t know what’s more shameful here: The fact that USA Network issued a bogus press release announcing that Donald Trump had bought World Wrestling Entertainment’s popular “Monday Night RAW” franchise? Or that publicly traded World Wrestling Entertainment participated in a scam that sent its share price down nearly 7% at one point on Tuesday? The USA Network (which is part of NBC Universal and in turn publicly traded GE) issued its apology today, acknowledging that “there is no actual ‘sale’.” The phony release was supposed to promote “an ongoing story arc” on the wrestling show. But the release sure looked real, including both companies’ logos as well as real contacts and phone numbers at WWE and USA Networks for reporters and investors to call. The release also included a quote from WWE Chairman Vince McMahon saying that Trump made an undisclosed offer that “I couldn’t refuse”. And Trump was quoted as promising to reward the RAW’s fans by airing the next show this Monday “live and commercial free”. News organizations took it at face value; TV Guide posted a story based on the press release shortly after it was issued. And FoxBusiness.com posted the release itself. Doesn’t the SEC consider it a crime for public companies to mislead investors?
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