Boston Globe Still Won’t Note Nancy Gertner Conflict

June 7, 2018

One week ago the hardreading staff noted that the Boston Globe allowed former federal judge Nancy Gertner to sandblast Gov. Charlie Baker in an op-ed for opposing “Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley’s [sentencing] of [Manuel] Soto-Vittini to probation for possession with intent to distribute 15 grams of heroin and a small amount of cocaine.”

As we wrote then:

But wait – isn’t Nancy Gertner a supporter of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Gonzalez? It sure appears that way from this item in Lauren Dezenski’s Politico Massachusetts Playbook last fall.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Former US Federal Judge Nancy Gertner hosted a fundraiser for Dem gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez at her Brookline home last night, the Gonzalez campaign tells me.

Globe readers might have wanted to know that in considering Gertner’s takedown of Charlie Baker, don’t you think?

 

Well, Globe readers still don’t know that, even as the Judge Feeley rumpus hits 11. Memo to Globe editorial page editor Ellen Clegg: Time to fess up, yeah?

Then again, the Globe isn’t alone in giving Gertner a free pass.

CommonWealth Magazine’s Michael Jonas also failed to note her conflict of interest (“[Baker’s] remarks appear to have been the last straw for former federal judge Nancy Gertner, who pens an op-ed in today’s Globe ripping Baker’s comments as a “Trump lite” echo of the president’s habit of “trashing judges with whom he disagrees.”), and MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius also links to Gertner’s op-ed with no disclaimer.

In the end, it’s absolutely Gertner’s responsibility to disclose her vested interest in attacking Charlie Baker. But news outlets should be exercising due diligence as well.

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Boston Globe $hilling Again for Children’s Hospital

October 18, 2016

This is getting really flagrant.

As the hardreading staff has noted multiple times, the Boston Globe has put on a full-court press over the past week promoting the proposed expansion of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Last week it was an op-ed piece from former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer urging state officials to get off their duffs and approve the expansion, already. Problem was, the Globe failed to mention that Widmer sits on the hospital’s Board Committee for Community Service.

On Sunday, this Globe editorial urged the state’s Public Health Council to approve the project.

Now today comes this op-ed by Jack Connors Jr., chairman emeritus of Partners HealthCare. The piece ends this way:

Hospitals around New England and beyond are referring their most challenging pediatric cases to the talented professionals at Boston Children’s Hospital. These clinicians have dedicated their lives to caring for children with the most complex medical needs. We need to come together and give them our support. We need to let them prepare for a better future for our children and grandchildren. There are so many families who rely on Boston Children’s today — and will rely on it in the future — who will be eternally grateful.

 

So, that’s three pro, no con for those of you keeping score at home.

As the Globe has been stacking the deck editorially, Children’s has been running full-page ads in the paper also touting the expansion. Here is today’s ad-ition:

 

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At this point, the only balance the Globe seems concerned with is its checking account balance.


Boston Globe Still Shilling for Children’s Hospital

October 17, 2016

At this point, it’s hard not to think that the Boston Globe is so far in the tank for the proposed Children’s Hospital expansion, they should be wearing scuba gear on Morrissey Boulevard.

As the hardreading staff noted last week, the Globe ran this op-ed piece by former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer on Wednesday. Widmer argued that there’s been too much shilly-shallying over approving the expansion and that state agencies should step aside and let Children’s get on with it.

What did not get mentioned in the op-ed piece is that Michael Widmer sits on the hospital’s Board Committee for Community Service.

Making things look even worse, this full-page ad also ran in last Wednesday’s Globe.

 

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Sure looks like the left hand does know what the right hand is doing. (Another full-page Children’s ad ran last Friday.)

And then came this editorial in yesterday’s Globe.

A yes for Children’s Hospital project

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A STATE PANEL’S upcoming vote on a $1 billion building project proposed by Boston Children’s Hospital comes down to this: Will allowing one of the nation’s most prestigious pediatric care centers to become bigger also drive up medical spending statewide and cause irreparable harm to Children’s competitors? The short answer: It doesn’t have to. Concerns about the project’s ripple effects are legitimate, but they don’t outweigh the need to upgrade a hospital that provides life-saving care to thousands of children from Massachusetts and around the world.

 

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, it’s quite possible that everyone at the Globe is just swimming in their own lane and there’s no concerted effort to boost the fortunes of a deep-pockets advertiser. (We count at least six full-page ads over the past seven months.)

But when the paper won’t even properly identify a Children’s board member using the Globe’s op-ed page to flack for the hospital, you really start to wonder.


Boston Globe Still in the Tank for Children’s Hospital

October 14, 2016

Apparently, the Boston Globe is willing to carry water for Boston’s Children’s Hospital like Gunga Din in the ongoing dispute over the medical center’s expansion plan.

As the hardreading staff noted the other day, the Globe ran this op-ed piece by former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer in Wednesday’s edition.

Watchdog overreaches on Children’s Hospital expansion

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ONE OF the iron laws of public policy is that regulatory agencies have an irresistible tendency to push the limits of their power and authority. Whether it’s the environment, transportation, or health care, the agency seems compelled to prove the purpose of its existence by reaching ever further into the regulatory arena.

We saw a classic example of that recently when the Health Policy Commission inserted itself into Boston Children’s Hospital’s determination of need application to upgrade its facilities. This is the first time that the HPC has chosen to comment on a determination of need application, and it did it 10 months after the hospital first submitted its application to the Department of Public Health, which had launched an extensive public process with widespread commentary and analysis.

 

Widmer also wrote that “the Health Policy Commission should never have inserted itself into the process in the first place.”

What we wrote was that Widmer shouldn’t have been inserted into the Globe op-ed page without the paper noting that he serves on the Children’s Hospital Board Committee for Community Service.

Coincidentally (or not), Wednesday’s Globe also featured this full-page ad.

 

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Conflict of interest, right?

Calls for full disclosure, right?

No such thing from the Globe.

So we sent this email to Globe editorial page editor Ellen Clegg:

Hi, Ellen,

[We] just published this post on Two-Daily Town.

http://bit.ly/2dXG7ZD

[We] would welcome the opportunity to post your response.

Sincerely,
[The Hardreading Staff]

 

So far . . . nothing.

No response from Ms. Clegg. No editor’s note about Widmer in the Globe. No nothing.

Except . . .

Another full-page ad in today’s Globe.

 

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(Children’s is so desperate to burnish its image, the hospital even ran the ad in today’s Boston Herald.)

To recap: The Boston Globe ran an op-ed piece from a Children’s Hospital Board member (without identifying him as such) that promoted the hospital’s controversial expansion plan on the same day the paper ran a lucrative full-page ad promoting the hospital’s controversial expansion plan.

And then ran another lucrative ad.

That’s not journalism. That’s full-service marketing.

Globe editors should know better. Globe readers deserve better.


Conflict of Interest on Boston Globe’s Op-Ed Page?

October 12, 2016

Former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer has this op-ed piece in today’s Boston Globe.

Watchdog overreaches on Children’s expansion

bch-bridge-renderings-1a

ONE OF the iron laws of public policy is that regulatory agencies have an irresistible tendency to push the limits of their power and authority. Whether it’s the environment, transportation, or health care, the agency seems compelled to prove the purpose of its existence by reaching ever further into the regulatory arena.

We saw a classic example of that recently when the Health Policy Commission inserted itself into Boston Children’s Hospital’s determination of need application to upgrade its facilities. This is the first time that the HPC has chosen to comment on a determination of need application, and it did it 10 months after the hospital first submitted its application to the Department of Public Health, which had launched an extensive public process with widespread commentary and analysis.

 

Widmer further states that “the Health Policy Commission should never have inserted itself into the process in the first place.”

But others say the Globe should never have inserted Widmer into the op-ed page – at least not without full disclosure.

An opponent of the Children’s expansion sent us this:

[Widmer] chastised the Health Policy Commission for scrutinizing the largest hospital expansion proposal in state history. HPC is supposed to help control health care costs in the Commonwealth, so of course it would raise objections to this unnecessary proposal. Then, Widmer did not disclose his own role with the hospital. The Globe should be more careful, and the hospital should be more honest.

 

Widmer’s role with Children’s? He’s listed on the hospital’s website as a member of its Board Committee for Community Service.

 

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In addition, there’s this comment attached to the web version of Widmer’s op-ed:

Mike Widmer is on the Board of Children’s Hospital. Printing this column is wrong. Given the Globe’s revenue struggles, it could have charged Children’s for ad space here.

Either very sloppy, or a serious breach of ethics by both the Globe and Widmer– or maybe both.

 

We’ve sent an email to Editorial Page Editor Ellen Clegg asking for a response. As always, we’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: As the irrepressible Alex Beam notes, I failed to mention the Children’s ad on page 3 of today’s Globe.

 

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Well, that closes the circle, eh?


Boston Globe’s New Drop-Ed Pages Are . . . New

May 5, 2015

As the masthead warned us, the Boston Globe has freshened up its editorial/opinion pages for whatever reason (maybe a focus group?).

From yesterday’s edition of the stately local broadsheet:

 

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Modern! Easy! Excellent!

Today’s edition of the Globe features the great unveiling. Left-hand page:

 

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Right-hand page:

 

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So, for example, Decoder, the explainer with a point of view, quite logically starts out with the umpteenth example of Boston as the Can’t Do city.

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Under the Bridge

IT WAS BORN of the Big Dig, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it has taken so long for the Lynch Family Skatepark to break ground. The Charles River Conservancy first announced the project in 2004, with seed money from skateboarder Tony Hawk and a sense that Boston’s skateboard underground, maligned and sometimes misunderstood, deserved a concrete paradise of its own.

 

A mere ten years later, Joanna Weiss helpfully points out, construction finally started late last month.

And etc. You can check it all out here.

One thing that struck the hardreading staff: Only one editorial instead of the two or three in the old, unfreshened format. That, of course, might change. We’ll see.

But this also strikes us: The hardy few readers who actually do venture onto the opinion pages of the Globe are almost assuredly more interested in the content than the packaging. We’ll see about that as well.


Boston Globe Has Come-to-Jesus Moment with Bernard Baran, Louise Woodward

October 20, 2014

Something interesting is happening in the Boston Globe’s editorial pages. The paper is doing a sort of media culpa regarding some high-profile – and highly debated – criminal convictions in the ’80s and ’90s. And it’s been uncharacteristically emphatic in its positions.

Begin with the redoubtable Harvey Silverglate’s Globe op-ed a week ago.

Justice system failed Bernard Baran

There should be consequences

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BERNARD BARAN of Pittsfield died a free man on Sept. 1 at age 49. But for an act of God, he would likely have died in prison, forever deemed guilty of raping children at a day care center where he’d worked.

Convicted amid the national panic over supposed sexual abuse of preschool children, Baran fell victim to homophobia, hysteria, and arguable prosecutorial misconduct. While many now recognize these prosecutions as modern-day witch hunts, those responsible for his incarceration remain unapologetic and unpunished.

 

That was followed by this editorial in yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe.

When miscarriages of justice occur, prosecutors must answer for actions

TWENTY-NINE YEARS ago, a Berkshire County prosecutor named Daniel A. Ford made at least one awful decision: On the skimpiest baranB-1797249evidence he charged a 19-year-old man with multiple counts of child rape. That may not be the worst of it; there are indications he may have played fast and loose with trial rules in order to get a conviction. Although Ford denies he did anything wrong, trial records suggest the defense attorney was unaware of significant exculpatory evidence held by the prosecution. In an atmosphere of homophobia and hysteria, the defendant, an openly gay teenager named Bernard F. Baran Jr., didn’t stand a chance. Convicted, he spent 21 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit.

 

In his op-ed, Silverglate “raised the possibility of removing Ford from his current job as a Superior Court judge, a position he has held since 1989.” The Globe editorial calls that “premature,” but says “Silverglate and Baran’s other supporters are right to seek a full, public inquiry into both the prosecution’s conduct and its decision to try the case in the first place.”

Further down Memory Lane, yesterday’s Globe also featured this op-ed by Lee Scheier, an investigative reporter working on a book about shaken-baby syndrome.

Martha Coakley, stop lauding bad science for self-promotion

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AFTER COMING under attack in an political ad for not doing enough to protect children, Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate for governor, defended her record. In a large above-the-fold photograph published in the Globe Oct. 3, Coakley is seen standing next to Deborah Eappen, mother of Matthew Eappen, the baby whom Louise Woodward was charged with shaking to death in 1997.

Coakley, the prosecutor in that infamous trial, set up the photo op ostensibly to remind the public of her commitment to protecting children. If so, Coakley must think Massachusetts voters have short memories.

 

Because, Scheier asserts, “[t]he truth is that Martha Coakley’s deft misuse of science actually came very close to sending an innocent caretaker to prison for life.”

Who’s right here? Roll your own.

But one thing’s clear: Ellen Clegg, the Globe’s interim editorial page editor, has certainly added some juice to those pages.