Brodie Lee’s tragic passing last weekend seemingly swept each person who follows wrestling into a whirlwind of emotions from the moment Amanda Huber let the world know her husband, her boys’ father and Brodie Lee as we knew him had passed away.
While initial details were scarce, Huber conveyed to her followers and Brodie’s fans that he died of a lung-related issue. For some people, namely Bruce Mitchell, formerly of the Torch, that wasn’t good enough as an explanation. Mitchell posted an irresponsible column, allegedly without editorial oversight, on the Torch within days of Lee’s passing away. Instantly it attracted a mountain of criticism for a multitude of reasons, chief among them being the complete lack of respect it showed the Huber family and their immediate friends, as well as the complete absence of evidence to back up the comments Mitchell made to Torch readers.
In journalism there’s such a thing as fair criticism and fair comment, however when a writer makes such a commentary so as to present information without a factual foundation and build it off pure speculation it discredits the work to its very core. It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked for a cup of coffee or have been at it for 30 years, the end result is the spitting in the face of journalism as a profession.
What Mitchell wrote veers into unfounded conspiracy theory mere days after Brodie Lee had passed away; disregarding the broad explanation Amanda Huber courteously provided. It’s that very same explanation (“non-COVID-related lung issue”) that any worthwhile outlet accepted and reported as fact, which is what you’re supposed to do as a reporter. It is not, however, the job of a reporter, columnist or editor to ever editorialize or speculate without a basis for their argument rooted in fact. In that, Mitchell failed his readers and his former employer.
What’s even more disconcerting is that even after fans heaped their disdain on the piece Mitchell wrote, and the Torch distanced themselves from it and asked Mitchell to take it down, he doubled down on it and stood by it presumably out of sheer ego; void of respect for the Huber family. If this wasn’t already enough, Mitchell’s speculation-piece earned added scorn from pro wrestlers across most companies Lee worked for, and led to Amanda Huber having to again take to social media to provide more answers that we are simply not due. Not even slightly. In that post on her Instagram she reaffirmed key details on the timeline, but notably said Lee was tested rigorously for COVID-19; each test prior to his hospitalization in Jacksonville’s Mayo Clinic, through his stay there and until his passing, all came back negative.
What was Mitchell’s response, you might ask now. Well, after the post was finally removed from the Torch, it was reposted in its entirety on www.greensborosports.com (if you click through, be advised it’s not a secure site) complemented by the following editorialization from the site itself:
“Bruce’s work is based on his opinions after many years of studying and researching the wrestling industry….You can form your own opinions after you read the post/article and those may vary, but Bruce has his opinion and his findings, and we leave those here in front of you, so that you can see what he has done with this topic….
Again, more details came out earlier this week and we have those listed for you too….
Here is the post, as we give Bruce the chance to be heard/seen….”
This went live last Wednesday morning, and was again an instance of Mitchell standing his ground in the face of all criticism of his article, and all calls for it to be taken down out of respect to Brodie Lee’s family; never mind his craft in and of itself. What’s even worse, in my opinion, is that it was dubiously reposted on this website the morning of AEW’s emotionally-charged tribute show to Lee, a show where his family was very much front and centre.
I’m not completely familiar with Bruce Mitchell’s past work, as I’ve never subscribed to the Torch. But what I have read is that he has a stellar track record for solid work in the wrestling media industry. This makes the last week all the more puzzling, because what he did doesn’t gel with his history, which is now unfortunately tarnished by his response to Brodie Lee’s passing. He was unprofessional, and the end result is not just the loss of his job, but his credibility as well.
The only conclusion left to draw is that Bruce Mitchell owes the Hubers, Lee’s friends and his former co-workers at the Torch an apology. Because in this instance his ego was more important than the family, the story and the actual truth.
Disco Inferno’s Running A Fever
Following AEW’s tribute show to Brodie Lee’s memory, Disco Inferno went on Konnan’s Keeping It 100 podcast where he made additional comments on Lee, effectively piggybacking off Mitchell’s column with the following:
“What (Mitchell) was saying was not unreasonable. They aren’t being fully transparent because we don’t know what the cause of death is yet. It’s very weird that the guy had the typical symptoms that you see from COVID, and it’s like, ‘OK it’s not that but we don’t know what it is.’ My general curiosity is gonna press you until we find out what exactly happened.”
First and foremost, it’s unclear if he’s seen Amanda Huber’s second Instagram post, but taking her at her word, in combination with many other comments from AEW workers in the last several days, it’s abundantly clear that it was a severe illness that compromised both of his lungs and led to their failure. Jim Ross qualified that on his podcast, which Fightful reported on.
When the story first broke, the family asked to be respected in their time of mourning. They provided an answer, but that was not good enough for select individuals. That prompted a grieving widow to again step into the light and offer more details when she didn’t have to, yet that still wasn’t enough for the likes of ex-WCW TV champion Disco Inferno. Disco demanded clarity amid this wayward train to nowhere to reinforce Mitchell’s conspiracy theory as it derailed and spiraled into oblivion. The answers will come when they’re available, but even then we as writers, journalists or even fans aren’t owed a thing. Especially when the family has been more forthcoming than they needed to be at every step.
Disco Inferno is not even remotely close to being a journalist, does not have a medical degree, and from the sounds of it has never been in a real life situation where doctors just haven’t been able to explain a medical crisis. They do exist; it’s not quite the same, but two years ago my dog died at 6 months old from a condition they couldn’t explain that had all the hallmarks of cancer, but didn’t fit cancer at first. All the tests pointed toward a rare form of leukemia, but they could never confirm it without an autopsy. It happens, how else do you think TV shows like Hugh Laurie’s House can exist? Our basic physiology and organ structures aren’t that different. Hearts, lungs and kidneys fail, blood disorders happen, tumours grow; the end result is the same, and in some cases there just isn’t a readily apparent answer.
The Mayo Clinic is home to some of the brightest medical minds in the world who routinely deal with serious and complex medical issues. An autopsy will likely be performed. AEW was silent because the family wanted it so. We have been given enough answers already, and more will come in due time when science concludes on the cause of death. It will be when the family deems it to be relevant and when the time is right, not when off-base columnists or clout-chasing retired wrestlers demand it to appease their own curiosities.