Battle of the Bulger (Cullen the Facts Edition)

June 8, 2013

The Boston Herald wants you to know it’s on the Whitey Bulger trial like Brown on Williamson, so they’re running this ad in today’s edition:


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And here’s an example of that “complete coverage.”

060713bulgermg002Witness ban lifted for Globe duo

Judge Denise J. Casper ruled yesterday that Boston Globe reporter Shelley Murphy and columnist Kevin Cullen can attend James “Whitey” Bulger’s trial, exempting them from her order to keep witnesses out of the courtroom except to testify . . .

In a separate court motion yesterday, Bulger’s lawyers threatened a push to isolate the jury from the outside world throughout the expected four-month trial “if the editors of the Globe do not show better judgment in the publication of columns that are designed to sell newspapers and for-profit books written by this columnist (Cullen).”


Interesting, yes? But hardly complete.

Here’s the same issue in the Globe:

Earlier Friday, Bulger’s defense attorney J. W. Carney Jr. filed a court motion in support of the request to ban Murphy and Cullen from the courtroom, alleging that Cullen’s Friday column on Bulger was sensational and would prejudice a jury.

Carney later said he would consider asking that the jury in the case be sequestered, which would prove to be costly and a hardship for jurors, if the Globe does not “show better judgment in the publication of columns that are designed to sell newspapers and for-profit books written by this columnist.”

But Casper rejected Carney’s argument when she granted the newspaper’s request to exclude Cullen and Murphy from the courtroom during testimony, noting the journalists’ constitutional rights in reporting on Bulger’s past and covering his trial.

Casper said she read the column Friday morning and indicated it seemed to support the Boston Globe’s argument, telling Carney, “From a 1st Amendment point of view I don’t know if it lends more support to your position, or more support to your opposing party’s point of view.”


[To be sure graf goes here.]

To be sure, both papers are pursing their own interests: the Herald to make the Globe look bad, the Globe to make itself look good. (The stately local broadsheet for the most part doesn’t concern itself with the feisty local tabloid.)

That’s all to be expected. But hey, Heraldniks: Complete coverage? Try again.

Hark! The Herald! (Whitey You Can Drive My Carr Edition)

June 1, 2013

From our Walt Whitman desk

As the hardreading staff noted earlier, the Boston Herald is all aglow over the imminent trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, especially the personal involvement of its star columnist Howie Carr (who “vowed to watch Whitey every step of the way through judgment day,” according to the feisty local tabloid).

And maybe testify on the mobster’s behalf. From today’s front page:


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And the navel-gazing piece:


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Yeah yeah – I’m Spartacus. Lede:

It’s not exactly the resume-enhancer I’d have picked for myself — “defense witness for Whitey Bulger.”20130601howie

But I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it either. And I’m not sure how serious Whitey’s lawyers are. Maybe they’re just trying to keep me and the Globe reporters out of the courtroom.

There’s an old saying in the law: If you have the facts, pound the facts. If you have the law, pound the law. If you have neither, pound the table.

Hey, J.W. Carney, lay off that table. Put your shoe back on.


Carr says he’ll probably “be relieved of my awesome responsibilities as a defense witness Monday, when the feds and Whitey’s lawyers make their final motions.”

That’s a relief, eh? He can then go back to “watching Whitey every step of the way” yak yak yak.

Whitey Bulger Testify Edition

August 7, 2012

Most Bostonians thought they’d never live long enough to see this headline in the Boston Globe:

Bulger plans to take stand in his defense

What follows is a straightforward recounting of what J.W. Carney Jr., Whitey Bulger’s lawyer, told news organizations yesterday:

James “Whitey” Bulger, once America’s most wanted criminal, will for the first time address the charges against him, taking the stand in his own defense in hope of convincing a jury that federal officials once granted him immunity for his many crimes, his lawyer said Monday.

J.W. Carney Jr. announced that plan during a hearing in US District Court in Boston. He said Bulger wants to provide a firsthand account of his relationship with the FBI and the deal he had for working secretly as a government informant.

“He is going to tell the truth, if the judge permits him to,” Carney later told reporters outside the federal courthouse.

The Boston Herald, not to be outdone, has two straightforward recountings of what Carney said (here and here).

So that’s a wash. It’s the columnists who provide today’s compare-and-contrast moment.

First, Herald resident wise guy, Howie Carr.

There are three chances of Whitey Bulger testifying at his own trial next March.

Slim, fat and none.

As a taxpayer, I demand a refund from Whitey’s public defender J.W. Carney. Is this the best you can do, Jay?

And it’s not just Howie who says that.

“I guarantee you that punk won’t take the stand,” Boston defense attorney Tony Cardinale was saying last night.

Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, though has a different take in this web piece that didn’t make the hardreading staff’s copy of the paper:

Did you really think that Whitey Bulger was going to sit there in the courthouse named after his old neighbor Joe Moakley and merely take notes on a yellow legal pad while federal prosecutors painted him as a killer of women, an enabler of drug dealers, and, egads, worst of all, a rat?

It was always in the cards that Whitey Bulger was going to take the stand in his own defense. His lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., has been saying as much for much of the last year, making it official with Monday’s announcement.

The only surprise is that anybody’s surprised. Whitey may be venal but he ain’t stupid. What’s he got to lose? This is the last dance. He has one shot to counter the prevailing image that took hold while he and Cathy Greig spent what Judge Doug Woodlock deliciously called “16 years of extended banality” on the run.

Who’s right? Flip a coin. Then wait until March.