Lab Rate

September 30, 2012

The Massachusetts State Police Drug Lab kerfuffle produced very different front-page coverage in Saturday’s local dailies.

(Via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages):

Check inside for further details.

Native Americans Whomp ‘Em in Massachusetts Senate Race

September 28, 2012

Elizabeth Warren’s soi disant Native American heritage has drawn fire not just from incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, but also from Native Americans.

Except it’s hard to know that from the Boston Globe coverage.

Cherokee chief rips Brown campaign

The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation denounced Senator Scott Brown’s campaign staffers on Wednesday for what he called offensive and racist behavior against Native Americans, and he called on Brown to apologize.

A day earlier, Democrats released a video filmed outside a Brown campaign event showing Republican staff members, including an aide in Brown’s Senate office, performing tomahawk chops and shouting war whoops amid a crowd of boisterous supporters of both candidates.

The gestures appeared to mock Elizabeth Warren’s professed Native American ancestry.

“The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse,” the chief, Bill John Baker, said in a statement. “The use of stereotypical ‘war whoop chants’ and ‘tomahawk chops’ are offensive and downright racist. It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples.”

But . . .

Buried deep in the piece was this:

[Sen. Brown’s] campaign also released a comment from a member of the Pequot tribe calling Warren a fraud for her undocumented claims of Native American ancestry.

Cut to . . . the Boston Herald’s coverage:

Native Americans rip Scott and Liz

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown delivered his “one and only warning” to staffers about their behavior after a video captured tomahawk-chopping supporters, but while a top Cherokee official demanded Brown apologize, other Native Americans said they’re still waiting for Elizabeth Warren to admit she’s no Cherokee.

“For the most part, I saw it as stupid behavior,” Twila Barnes said of the clip featuring Brown supporters doing war whoops and toma-hawk chops. “But Elizabeth Warren has stolen our entire identity. If she had been a real Cherokee, they wouldn’t have behaved like that. They were doing it because she’s fake.”

Fake heritage, fake issue, fake outrage – take your pick.

Split Decision on ‘Last Resort’

September 27, 2012

The fall television season is upon us, which means the return of familiar shows and the debut of new ones. It also means TV reviews, to see which one are worth watching.

Or not, if you read both local dailies.

Case in point: the ABC’s new drama series Last Resort.

The Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert likes it, he really likes it:

‘Last Resort’: Paranoia below the sea

There’s no question in my mind that most TV sci-fi dramas have some precedent in “The Twilight Zone.” Rod Serling’s stark, brilliant anthology series, which ran from 1959-63, messed with all kinds of cosmic possibilities – about existence, about childhood, about time and space, about good and evil, about politics, technology, and the future. There were humans, aliens, robots, mutants, dreams, and apocalypses, the last of which are particularly popular these days in primetime. From “Lost,” “FlashForward,” and “Fringe” to “Revolution” and ABC’s fascinating new “Last Resort,” TV is still toying with the what-ifs and watch-outs explored in TV’s great uber-ancestor.

But the Herald’s Mark Perigard? Not so much.

‘Last Resort’ aptly named

Nuke-happy network drama’s a bust

An anti-Muslim video created by an idiot and posted to YouTube has provoked violence worldwide.

Tonight, a commercial network releases an expensive-looking drama that casually drops two nuclear bombs on Pakistan and obliterates millions — off-screen, thankfully.

It gets better.

Our “hero,” late in the hour, detonates a nuclear bomb on American soil — just to prove a point.

To be fair, “Last Resort” does not insult ideology — it merely knocks your intelligence.

Anybody got a coin we can flip?


Brown Rally Goes Chop Chop To Globe Front Page

September 26, 2012

Yesterday’s rally shenanigans by staffers of Sen. Scott Brown (Whomp ’em) went straight to the front page 0f today’s Boston Globe.

Republican aides shown doing war chants

Warren decries actions outside Brown event

In a tough new ad and in his attacks at last week’s debate, Senator Scott Brown has stoked questions about Elizabeth Warren’s professed Native American ancestry. But the difficulty of seizing on the controversy without crossing into uncomfortable racial territory became apparent Tuesday with the release of a video showing Republican staff members, including an aide in Brown’s Senate office, performing tomahawk chops and war whoops outside one of his campaign events.

Brown said such behavior is “not something I condone,” but declined to apologize.

“The apologies that need to be made and the offensiveness here is the fact that Professor Warren took advantage of a claim, to be somebody, a Native American, and used that for an advantage, a tactical advantage,” Brown said.

Pretty lame. But there was no ‘splainin’ from Brown in the Herald, which dismissed the story with a page 4 squib:

Warren on tomahawk chop video: Cut it out!

Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren says she was “appalled” at a video that appeared to show supporters of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown — including at least one staffer — performing war whoops and tomahawk chops, saying if one of her campaign workers did such a thing there would be “serious consequences.”

Asked whether she was appalled as an American Indian, Warren told reporters: “I am appalled as an American.”

“I think everyone knew what he was up to,” said Warren, who has been dogged by a growing scandal over her unsupported claims of Cherokee heritage and her professional claims of minority status.

This isn’t going to get any prettier, folks.


Elizabeth Warren’s No Apology Tour

September 25, 2012

The Naive American – sorry, Native American – heritage of Elizabeth Warren continues to be batted around in the local dailies today. Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan tells Warren running for office means always having to say you’re sorry.

Elizabeth Warren, it’s not too late to say ‘sorry’

Here’s what might help Elizabeth Warren in this oh-so-close U.S. Senate race: some apologies, some mea culpas.

Yesterday during an interview with Jim Braude and me on News Talk 96.9, Warren was asked — yet again — about the issue that just won’t go away.

“Do you feel that guilt that you checked the box?” asked a caller from Wellesley, who admitted that she, too, had checked the Native American box when pursuing a government job in the ’80s, and still feels bad about it.

Had Warren said what she should have said when the Herald first broke the Native American story months ago, it wouldn’t be a big story anymore. That is, that she regretted checking her own Native American box. That it was a mistake. That she was sorry.

Far from apologizing, Warren has doubled down on her dual heritage, as the Globe reports today:

In ads, Warren defends heritage after Brown attacks

US Senator Scott Brown and his Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren launched dueling ads Monday over her claims of Native American heritage, an issue that has provoked the most serious personal attacks in their race.

The sniping began when Brown launched a 30-second spot, entitled “Who knows?” The ad features grainy clips of television reporters talking about Warren “identifying herself as Native American to employers. . . . Something genealogists said they have zero evidence of.”

At the conclusion, a reporter asks Warren: “Is there anything else that’s going to come out about you that we don’t already know?” The Democrat laughs in response. “You know, I don’t think so, but who knows,” she says . . .

By late afternoon, Warren unveiled a 30-second spot that struck back at Brown’s, defending her heritage. “As a kid I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage. What kid would?’’ Warren asks, looking directly into the camera. “But I knew my father’s family didn’t like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware. So my parents had to elope.’’

“Let me be clear,” she adds, “I never asked for, never got any benefit because of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn’t even know about it.”

Well, we all know about it now. And it’s not going away anytime soon.


Debate and Switch

September 24, 2012

Both local dailies front-page debate stories today as campaign season shifts into high(er) gear.

Via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages:




The Globe piece is pretty straightforward:

First debate called critical for Mitt Romney

Higher stakes than for Obama

After months of sniping from a distance, President Obama and Mitt Romney are nearing the unsparing crucible of one-on-one debates that could alter the dynamics of the presidential campaign.

For Romney, particularly, the stakes are enormous.

After a month of missteps and missed opportunities — from his convention speech, to his reaction after the US ambassador’s death in Libya, to a video in which he described nearly half the country as government-dependent “victims” — Romney faces three debates in the national spotlight, beginning Oct. 3 in Denver, that could bolster or bury his chances.

“Unquestionably, he has to do well in the first debate,” said Rob Gray, a Republican strategist who was a senior adviser in Romney’s successful 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor. “There’s more on the line for him, whereas Obama has proven before that he can handle it.”

The Herald, on the other hand, has three – count ’em, three – columnists on debate patrol. Start with Joe Battenfeld’s cover story:

A glimpse inside Mitt’s strategy

He’s not Mitt Romney, but he got to play one in debate practice. And he says the real Mitt needs to resurrect his personable performance from 10 years ago to beat President Obama in their upcoming face-to-face showdowns.

Jeffrey Robbins, a Boston attorney who played the role of Romney as Democrat Shannon O’Brien prepared for the debates in the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race, divulged for the first time key details of the Democrats’ strategy to turn Romney into “Gordon Gekko” — a strategy that ultimately failed then.

Robbins predicts Obama’s debate plan will come right out of the playbook 10 years ago, when Democratic gubernatorial nominee O’Brien tried to reinforce Romney’s image as a greedy, out-of-touch businessman.

Bit of a stretch there, eh?

Next up is Holly Robichaud’s piece giving advice to Romney.

Like Brown, Mitt must pack a punch in his debate

Last week it was great to see an aggressive U.S. Sen. Scott Brown take on Lizzy Warren. After months of her endless whining commercials, Brown called her out on multiple issues — including her fake American Indian status, helping Travelers Insurance avoid paying poisoned asbestos workers and her whopping $350,000 salary for teaching one class at Harvard University.

Brown had the right combination of talking directly to voters and discrediting Fauxahontas. He showed how a candidate can remain likable, but still deliver a solid punch.

Our former Gov. Mitt Romney would do well to take a page out of this playbook. President Obama is not going to be forced out of the White House if Romney keeps playing defense. It is time to put points on the board.

Finally, Kimberly Atkins weighs in:

Wisdom of pols’ rules is debatable

WASHINGTON — The debate season is in full swing, and with it we are seeing the emergence of a nifty approach by some candidates as they prepare to face their rivals face-to-face: avoidance by agreement.

The true pioneer of this debate is U.S. Rep. John Tierney who, as the Herald reported, insisted sponsors of two of four scheduled debates with GOP challenger Richard Tisei focus only on certain topics and preclude the participants from asking questions of one another.

Of course, this conveniently will allow Tierney to avoid an issue both Tisei and national Republicans have focused on: his in-laws’ gambling ring and his wife’s federal tax-evasion conviction.

Atkins goes on to relate other debate-related kerfuffles before offering some free advice to candidates, such as “[Elizabeth Warren] could try to throw U.S. Sen. Scott Brown off  his well-rehearsed game by demanding that the candidates be barred from using the word ‘professor,’ thanking the moderator after each question or referring to a truck at any point.”

The hardreading staff would be all for that.


Asbestos We Can Tell, Herald One-Sided in Warren Travelers Coverage

September 22, 2012

One of the sharpest shots Scott Brown landed on Elizabeth Warren in Thursday night’s Massachusetts U.S. Senate debate concerned her defense of Travelers Insurance in an asbestos case several years ago.

Brown whacked her pretty good in the debate, and continued the same yesterday, as the Boston Herald was happy to trumpet this AM (via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages):

Inside story:


U.S. Sen. Scott Brown said Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to answer questions about her lucrative work defending an insurance giant against asbestos victims will not stand — and vows to hammer her about it in their next debate.

The non-response from Warren, who touts herself as a consumer champion, in a Thursday debate has dominated the buzz after the clash.

(To be fair, the Herald did give Warren’s subsequent response a perfunctory, if dismissive, mention in this editorial.)

The Globe, meanwhile, provides a bit more balance in its piece today:

As the Globe reported in May, Warren did represent Travelers in the 2009 asbestos case, but at the time, the company was seeking to unlock a $500 million settlement account for victims, a step many victims supported. After Warren’s work on the case had ended, however, Travelers won a separate court ruling that allowed the company to avoid paying out the settlement. That ruling is under appeal.

“Elizabeth Warren got involved to protect the settlement,” against a challenge from another insurance company, said David J. McMorris, a lawyer at Thornton & Naumes in Boston, who represented victims in the case.

McMorris and several officials from an asbestos workers’ union showed up outside Brown’s headquarters to  defend Warren’s role in the lawsuit.

“It should be very, very clear the victims would have no chance to get paid by Travelers were it not for the work of Elizabeth Warren,” McMorris told reporters. “She’s been with the victims then, and she’s with the victims now.”

McMorris has donated $467,435 to Democratic politicians, according to the Brown campaign, which sent out a press release about McMorris’s contributions minutes after his comments.

Warren has been inexplicably inept in handling this issue. The Herald, on the other hand, has been predictably adept at avoiding both sides of it.


Herald: Debaters Not Tisei ‘Gambling’ in 6th Cong. Bakeoffs

September 21, 2012

There’s a donnybrook underway in the 6th Congressional district between incumbent Rep. John Tierney (D-Wanna Bet?) and former state senator Richard Tisei (R-You Betcha). Not surprisingly, the ads wars have heated up pretty quickly. Here’s a representative sample from Tierney:


And here’s a response of sorts from Tisei:


Also not surprisingly, Tierney would like all talk about his gambling problem (a.k.a. his wife Patrice) to go away, especially in the four debates he’s scheduled to have with Tisei.

Very surprisingly, it looks like he’ll get at least half his wish. Today’s Boston Herald exclusive (via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages):

Inside story:

John Tierney’s rules of debate

Rep moves to bar questions on relatives’ gambling ring

Facing the fight of his political life, scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. John Tierney has moved to block questions about his family’s illegal gambling ring from debates this fall, insisting on ground rules that bar panelists from asking about the controversy.

Sponsors of two of the four debates between Tierney and GOP opponent Richard Tisei told the Herald they have agreed to the congressman’s demand that they stick to questions about policy and steer clear of queries on what he knew about his wife and in-laws’ ties to an illegal offshore gambling operation.

Those two are the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce (which said it was “very amenable to the request”) and CommonWealth magazine.

A Sept. 27 debate, sponsored by MassINC’s CommonWealth magazine, will be focused on “jobs, the economy and the middle class,” said editor Bruce Mohl. Panelists are expected to keep their questions on topic, and Tierney’s camp made sure of it, according to Mohl.

“There was a concern about whether this would veer off topic into other issues,” Mohl said. “I think you can figure out what those issues might be.”

Mohl also said the Tierney camp refused to commit to the debate if it included a proposed section allowing candidates to ask one another questions.

The hardreading staff recognizes that CommonWealth is a seriously wonky – not dishy – magazine, but we like the response of The Jewish Journal editor Susan Jacobs a lot better: “I won’t shy away from asking that question because I I believe that’s a question everyone wants to know.”

Eight-to-five she never gets to ask that question. We’re betting Tierney bags that particular debate.


Brown Sugar From Herald On New Poll

September 20, 2012

After four consecutive polls showed Elizabeth Warren leading incumbent Scott Brown in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race, the Boston Herald finally got some news it could plaster all over Page One (via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages):

(Extra credit: Compare and contrast, in clear idiomatic English, the photos the Herald chose of the two.)

The Globe, for its part, ran the story Metro p. 3:

New poll shows Scott Brown leading Elizabeth Warren

A new poll shows US Senator Scott Brown with a lead over Elizabeth Warren, a break from a string of four previous polls that showed Warren leading the race.

The new University of Massachusetts Lowell/Boston Herald telephone poll of 524 voters, released Wednesday night, showed Brown leading 49 percent to 45 percent among those deemed likely to vote.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 13 to 17 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The organization’s previous poll, taken in December, showed Warren leading by 7 percentage points.

In fairness, that’s exactly where the Globe ran this piece two days ago:

Warren ahead of Brown in 3rd poll

A third new poll has found Elizabeth Warren pulling ahead of Senator Scott Brown, giving the Democratic challenger momen tum before their first debate Thursday.

A Suffolk University/WHDH-TV survey released late Monday had Warren at 48 percent and Brown at 44 percent, within the poll’s margin of error but the opposite of a similar poll in May. That Suffolk/WHDH survey had Brown at 48 percent and Warren at 47 percent.

Pollster David Paleologos attributed the shift to Warren’s national exposure through her speech at the Democratic ­National Convention, which allowed her to share a platform with President Obama, former president Bill Clinton, and other party luminaries.

(The hardsearching staff couldn’t find yesterday’s piece, about the fourth poll, in either our dead-tree edition or the Globe’s ePaper edition.)

Probably doesn’t matter. It likely all changes after tonight’s debate.


Locals Rise to Phoenix Redesign

September 19, 2012

The Boston dailies ran entirely true to form in their coverage of the Boston Phoenix facelift (and a little lipo, we assume).

Yesterday’s Globe had a front-page feature that looked at the rapid erosion of  local macher Stephen Mindich’s media holdings.

A hybrid rises from the old Boston Phoenix

Alternative paper’s longtime publisher adjusts to changing times

As summer approached, staff meetings at The Boston Phoenix grew more frequent amid mounting concerns about layoffs, an announced move to new offices, and the future of the Phoenix itself.

One indication of the meetings’ importance was the presence of owner and publisher Stephen Mindich. He has guided the paper’s fortunes since the 1970s, making it the centerpiece of a youth-oriented media conglomerate, yet he had scaled back day-to-day management duties while his son Brad ran the company.

The outcome of those staff discussions has left many observers wondering if the Phoenix they have known and read for decades — a pioneering alternative weekly paper celebrated for its lively coverage of politics, media, and the arts — will be around much longer.

This Thursday, The Boston Phoenix will formally merge with its sister publication, Stuff, a glossy biweekly, into a publication called simply The Phoenix. As a newsprint entity, the old Boston Phoenix will cease to exist.

As has WFNX-FM, stripped for parts like a car left overnight on the Cross Bronx Expressway (signal to Clear Channel for $14 million, staff to to start up Radio BDC, call letters to the web for Spanish-language paper El Planeta was also jettisoned. The Mindich media empire is down to a sandlot.

Crosstown at the Herald today, the Track Gals (and Megan!) have something much dishier:

Phoenix sex ads under Twitter attack

The Boston Phoenix, which will debut a new glossy-mag look this week, was under Twitter attack yesterday after someone hijacked the name of its new adult rag and began tweeting X-rated missives at advertisers, public officials and Phoenix staffers.

@BostonAtNite is not the Twitter handle of the Phoenix’s new adult publicationBoston At Nite, according to editor at large Peter Kadzis. But the “Parody” account was tweeting up Mayor Tom MeninoAttorney General Martha Coakley, clubs and bands that advertised on the Boston At Nite website and columnists for the alternative weekly.

“Find your underage sex slave today! Sex trafficking for all,” said @BostonAtNite, adding the word “Parody” so you’d know it wasn’t real.

Not surprisingly, the Phoenix folks are not amused.  “[Editor at large Peter] Kadzis said the Phoenix has complained to Twitter about the account and is trying to get it taken down. ‘Any sick (bleep) can sign up for a Twitter handle,’ Kadzis said. ‘My prediction — and it’s probably true — is that there’s a connection to a rival publication.'”

As in the Weekly Dig, whose publisher Jeff Lawrence, the Track Gals (and Megan!) point out, just happens to be one of the whopping 19 tweeps who follow @BostonAtNite.

Fun for the whole family! Except for the X-rated part, of course.