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My appearance last night on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor culminates an extraordinary week of mainstream media interest in the pro wrestling industry’s culture of drugs and death in the wake of the murder-suicide of World Wrestling Entertainment star Chris Benoit and his wife and their son.

Benoit is the umpteenth recent untimely wrestler’s death — as documented in the appendix of WRESTLING BABYLON — as well as at least the fourth since the book was printed. But, of course, this particular one resonated with the general public because of its grisly tabloid details.

Last night’s edition of  The O’Reilly Factor does not yet have an on-demand link at the Fox News website, and I have not heard back from the producers on when I’ll be supplied with a video file or link. If anyone knows of where the full wrestling segment (not just O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” commentary) might be streamed right now, please email me at [email protected].

Though I don’t seem to have any narcissistic scars from climbing into the ring with O’Reilly — one should be aware of the rules of engagement before signing on for a cable shoutfest — O’Reilly’s labeling me “an apologist” has had the odd effect of turning me into, in wrestling parlance, something of a babyface in the fan community. In a post headlined “Rosie O’Reilly,” a blogger with the handle “Blackjack” (who also discloses that he owns stock in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., the parent company of Fox News), writes, “After watching the way O’Reilly treated Irv Muchnick, I think I’m pretty much done with the show.” See http://holecard.blogspot.com/2007/06/rosie-oreilly.html.

“The Factor” himself blogged a characteristically bombastic and skewed takeout on last night’s show at http://www.billoreilly.com/show?action=viewTVShow&showID=1404#2.

This morning I was a guest on “Total Information AM” on Newstalk 1120 KMOX in St. Louis with Debbie Monterrey and Doug McElvein. Afterward Debbie emailed me, “I thought O’Reilly treated you badly. He wanted someone to rage at and apparently you were the one! I’ve always enjoyed watching his show, but he’s gone really over the top lately with his yelling and sermonizing. I thought you handled it well.” Spoken like a pro, Debbie!

WRESTLING BABYLON is now the first book in the history of ECW Press to be ranked in the 200’s among all bestsellers at Amazon.com. It is No. 1 in hot new releases – wrestling, No. 1 in hot new releases – individual sports, and No. 2 in hot new releases among all sports titles. On July 1, the three-month anniversary of the official publication date, WRESTLING BABYLON will rotate out of Amazon’s “hot new releases” categories.

Irv Muchnick