After Cab Expose, Boston Globe Has a Hohler Nother Problem

July 5, 2014

The Boston Globe’s taxidermy of the local cab industry last year has left some tire tracks on the stately local broadsheet. From the start, as the hardreading staff dutifully chronicled, crosstown rival Boston Herald has been on the Globe’s Driven to the Edge series like Brown on Williamson, especially since Globe reporter Bob Hohler got into an accident while posing as a cab driver. (Globe editor Brian McGrory insisted at the time that “[Hohler] was not masquerading as a cab driver, he was a cab driver.” And a reporter. Potato-potahto. Yesterday, the frisky local tabloid reported that the whole thing has gone to lawyers.

Pair sue reporter in cab crash

A Boston Globe reporter who went undercover as a cab driver for a series of reports on the city’s taxi industry is being sued by two of his passengers, who are claiming more than $12,000 in medical expenses after a late-night crash in November 2012. Passengers Daniel Kim and Jiwoon Choi of Boston both endured “serious personal injuries, great pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages and/or diminished earning capacity” after their cab, driven by Globe reporter Bob Hohler, was struck by another car at the intersection of Stuart and Clarendon streets. The suit claims Hohler failed to “exercise due care” in driving the cab. Choi claimed she suffered a fractured left orbital bone, as well as neck, head and back injuries, racking up medical bills of $9,248. Kim injured his right knee, head and left hand with medical bills of $3,600, according to the suit filed in Boston Municipal Court.


The harddoubting staff doesn’t expect the Globe will report the suit in today’s edition, but we’ll keep you posted.

P.S. It didn’t.

Boston Globe Scooped by Derek Jeter

March 28, 2015

[Editor’s Note: We’ve been told by someone we respect that our previous headline (“More on Dan Shaughnessy’s Papi Smear”) was offensive, and so we have changed it. Your recriminations go here.]

Well this is an excellent rumpus Red Sox stalwart David Ortiz and the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy are having, no? In case you’ve been snowed under by more trivial matters, it started with this piece by Ortiz on Derek Jeter’s website The Players’ Tribune. Most notable, at least in local media terms, was this passage:

In 2013, I came off the DL and started hot. My first 20 games I was hitting like .400. And the reporter with the red jheri curl from The Boston Globe comes into the locker room says, “You’re from the Dominican. You’re older. You fit the profile of a steroid user. Don’t you think you’re a prime suspect?”

He’s saying this with a straight face. I had taken like 70 at-bats. Anybody can get hot and hit .400 with 70 at-bats. I was stunned. Boston Red Sox v New York YankeesI’m like, I’m Dominican? I fit the profile? Are you kidding me?

I wanted to kill this guy. But you can’t react. That’s what they want. They want you to get angry so they can bury you. So I just smiled at him and asked for his address.

“Why do you want my address?” he said.

“Because I just got tested two days ago.” I said. “I’ll mail you the f****ing results.”

(Shaughnessy dismantles Ortiz’ claims in his column today.)

But there’s also this sidebar, via FishbowlNY: “There’s an interesting collateral detail in Richard Sandomir’s NYT look at The Players’ Tribune’s rookie year. When March 26 essay ‘The Dirt‘ was added to the Derek Jeter portal by editor-at-large David Ortiz, it hit the Red Sox paper of record in the gut.”

From Sandomir’s piece:

Within a half-hour of Ortiz’s post being published on The Players’ Tribune on Thursday night, The Boston Globe rushed onto its website a similar article, the product of an interview Ortiz gave March 11 to one of its reporters, Bob Hohler. That piece had been held since last week so it could be the centerpiece of The Globe’s Major League Baseball preview April 5.

“When he filed it, we were wary,” said Joseph Sullivan, the Globe’s sports editor. “I worried about ESPN or Yahoo or The Boston Herald somehow doing a similar story. But I didn’t think about The Players’ Tribune.”

Sullivan added: “Last night was not a good night for me.”

Then again, this morning wasn’t so great for Ortiz.

Globe Can’t Keep Cab Story Straight

April 5, 2013

The Boston Globe newsroom might want to call a cab-inet meeting sometime soon, because it’s sending mixed messages about the paper’s three-part takeout on the Boston taxicab industry.

Start with reporter Bob Hohler, who spent eight nights driving for Boston Cab last fall, which he chronicles in the final piece of the series. In this interview posted on the Globe website, Hohler describes how he conducted his investigation.

Q: Did anyone know you were a Boston Globe reporter? How did you handle disclosure?

A: I drove for Boston Cab for eight nights and never got the sense that anybody there knew that I was a reporter. When I applied there I said I worked for the NYT Company  . . .  the New York Times owns the Globe. As for my occupation I said sports because I’m a sportswriter.

Q. But if they had said – I know the way it works – if they had said Are you a Boston Globe reporter you would say Yes I am. But no one asked you.

A. Absolutely. I would have told them that I’m here to try to get the experience, to try to learn.


Apparently the burden of disclosure was on Boston Cab.

So Hohler is guilty of a sin of omission, if one at all. Even so, that’s a time-honored journalistic practice in undercover investigations. When he was asked in the interview “what did becoming a taxi driver afford you accesswise that you wouldn’t get as a reporter,” Hohler replied, “Oh – everything.”

Globe editor Brian McGrory, though, sounded a much different note during Wednesday’s Jim and Margery show on WGBH radio.

Bob Hohler, a cab driver back in the 1970s, who brought this idea to us, went out, got his hackney license, drove a cab – unlike the way Margery’s paper [the Boston Herald] portrayed it, he was not masquerading as a cab driver, he was a cab driver, he got his license.

This was not an undercover operation. He went out and he immersed himself in that community and we did exactly what a newspaper is supposed to do. It was a major time investment, major financial investment, and it has gotten swift results.


Less  than a minute later, McGrory reiterated his position: “We never went undercover – let’s be clear about that. The word ‘undercover’ carries implications that just aren’t necessary here.”

But, all due respect, that certainly seem to fit.

Herald Hacks at Globe Cab Story (III)

April 4, 2013

Today’s Boston Herald takes another whack at crosstown rival Boston Globe’s Driven to the Edge three-part taxidermy of the city’s cab industry.

The latest piece:

Boston GlobeTimes defends Globe undercover scribe

A Boston Globe reporter masquerading as a cab driver for an undercover report appears to have violated the New York Times ethics policy, yet was defended by the Times yesterday.

Times policy clearly states that “staff members and others on assignment for us should disclose their identity to people they cover, though they need not always announce their occupation when seeking information normally available to the public.”

The policy further notes that “journalists may not pose as anyone they are not — for example, police officers or lawyers.”

But Times spokeswoman Eileen M. Murphy insisted Globe Spotlight Team reporter Bob Hohler “was within the policies” when he failed to identify himself as a reporter when he applied for a job at the Boston Cab Co. for the purposes 
of his undercover report.


Our feisty local tabloid, not surprisingly, disagrees.

You tell us.

Herald Hacks at Globe Cab Story (II)

April 3, 2013

In the aftermath of his post on Media Nation this morning about the Boston Herald’s drive-by coverage of the Globe series Driven to the Edge, Dan Kennedy had this Twitter exchange with Seth Mnookin:


Picture 1

I have the greatest respect for both these guys as writers, but I’m not sure the Herald piece is totally without merit. Start with the nondisclosure by Globe reporter Bob Hohler when he applied to drive for Boston Cab. We’re not talking Food Lion here, but this was at best some sleight of hand. Call it misdemeanor misrepresentation and sentence Hohler to time served.

Then again, what is meritless is this contention in the Herald piece:

“Deceptive methods are only acceptable if there was no other way to get the story,” said Stephen Ward, director of the Center of Journalism Ethics at University of Wisconsin-Madison. “This strikes me as a story you could get without having to go with these pretenses.”


Sorry, Mr. Ward, but no way the Globe gets this story without undercover reporting. (One Herald commenter wrote, “HERALD HAD TO GO TO THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN FOR A QUOTE ABOUT ETHICS? WAS THE UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX TOO BUSY TO COMMENT?”)

On the issue of reporting both versions of the crash, though, the Herald might have a point.

The article in question, written by Hohler and editor Thomas Farragher, described Hohler as driving a cab that was totaled in a 
Nov. 4 accident at approximately 10 p.m. after a “motorist ran a red light at Stuart and Clarendon streets,” sending the reporter and his two passengers to Tufts Medical Center with facial and head injuries.

But a Boston police report doesn’t paint the crash as so clear-cut. “At the scene there were two versions of what had happened,” according a police report.


Hohler’s report certainly leaves the impression that he was the victim of the crash. Of course if you want to get all Talmudic about it, you could actually read it as either version if you assume Hohler to be the “motorist” as well as the cabdriver. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole.

So, to recap: Is the Herald magnifying what most observers would say is a minor matter? Yes. Is the Herald presenting it in an entirely overcaffeinated manner? Yes. Is that what the Herald does? Yes.

Does that mean there’s no legitimate question about the Globe’s version of the accident? Not really. It’s just not front-pageworthy.

Except in the Herald.

Herald Hacks at Globe Cab Story

April 3, 2013

Our feisty local tabloid does a Page One drive-by on the Boston Globe’s three-part taxidermy of the city’s cab industry.


Picture 1

The story in question? Globe reporter Bob Hohler’s takeout yesterday on renewing his hackney license from the ’70s and driving the streets of Boston for eight nights.

hohler012As a Globe reporter discovered over eight nights as a licensed Boston cabbie and throughout a nine-month Spotlight Team investigation, the city’s newest taxi drivers join thousands already navigating through two Bostons: a luminous city of gleaming towers and vast opportunity whose workers and visitors they shuttle about daily, and the city’s struggling underclass, of which most of them are a part.

Laboring 12 to 24 hours a day as independent contractors, without job protections or benefits, they will endure shifts of public service and private indignities, outsized risk and systemic exploitation.

Many will be cheated by their taxi owners and customers. They will confront hazards more potent than potholes: violent crime, distracted and impaired drivers, and their own debilitating fatigue.


Not to mention car crashes, which Hohler actually does:

Boston Cab . . . charges [a] $5 waiver to subsidize its self-insurance program. The Globe reporter purchased that insurance Nov. 4 hours before a motorist ran a red light at Stuart and Clarendon streets, totaling the 2011 Camry hybrid taxi he was driving.

The cabbie and his two passengers are taken by ambulance to Tufts Medical Center. The passengers suffer facial injuries, the reporter a minor head injury.


Which maybe affected his memory, because the Herald has a different story:

040213hohlercab001 Globie’s cab crash raises eyebrows

Drove taxi while reporting story

A Boston Globe reporter masquerading as a Hub taxi driver gave a disputed version of a two-car crash that sent him and his two passengers to the hospital in a front-page story yesterday that’s raising questions about liability and whether he misrepresented himself.

The one-sided account of the crash, included in a report about Boston’s cab industry, also came after the reporter appeared to conceal his Globe employment in an application to the cab company that hired him.


Here’s the Herald’s two-sided account:

Hohler initially told cops that “while he had a red light,” another car “came out of nowhere” and struck the left side of his cab, causing him to slam into a traffic light, according to the report.

But in a handwritten supplemental police report filed six days later, Hohler said he in fact had a green light and the other driver had run a red light, citing “confusion on the scene” to explain the “misinformation.”

The other motorist, driving a gray Nissan Maxima, told police he believed he had the green light all along and instead was struck by the cab, according to the first police report. As of yesterday, no one had been cited in the crash, according to state Registry of Motor Vehicles officials.


The Herald piece proceeds from there to the topics of lawsuits, journalistic ethics, and general skullduggery.

Plenty of material, in other words, for multiple follow-up stories.

Globe Op-Ed Page Plays Hardball with Boston Herald

February 1, 2013

From our Late to the Party desk

Wednesday’s Boston Globe op-ed page featured a piece by sports economist Andrew Zimbalist spanking former Red Sox manager Terry Francona for criticizing the Sox owners in his new book as being more interested in money than the game of baseball.

Zimbalist calls Francona’s narrative “as unconvincing, as it is, at points, nasty, petty, inaccurate, and unfair.” That’s not the only thing that’s unfair in this piece. Here’s how it starts:

10232011_1023oped_vennochi-8075467Francona’s petty payback to Sox owners

IN “FRANCONA, the Red Sox Years,” Terry Francona, with the aid of Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, has given us his version of his eight years in Boston. They were very successful years for the team — two World Series victories, six trips to the playoffs. Presumably, Francona should get at least some of the credit for this success, though it is not clear how much.

The problem for Francona is that it all ended with the September swoon in 2011 and many seem to blame him. Francona, after all, reportedly had a wild year — a marital separation, a painkiller problem, and then the incident reported by Bob Hohler in the Globe of Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Josh Beckett drinking beer, eating fried chicken, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games. The inevitable, and seemingly reasonable, inference was that Francona had lost control of the team.


Wait a second. As best the hardreading staff recalls, the Boston Herald’s John Tomase broke the beer-and-chicken story.

C’mon, Globies. Credit where credit’s due.