Boston Dailies (wait for it) Diverge on Gates-gate

April 24, 2015

From our Late to the Ancestral Party desk

The current Henry Louis Gates Jr./Ben Affleck/PBS/Sony Entertainment/WikiLeaks rumpus over the excising of Affleck’s slave-owning ancestry from Gates’s documentary series Finding Your Roots got very different play in Thursday’s local dailies.

Let’s let the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr set the scene.

Lessons in inconvenient truths

Affleck revelation shows that nothing stay hidden nowadays

This week’s celebrity tempest in a teapot is brought to you by Ben Affleck, Henry Louis Gates Jr., PBS, and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. Oh, and WikiLeaks, which, if it had hands, would be rubbing them together 8917b9a34d2c47788d1664887d6c02e1-8917b9a34d2c47788d1664887d6c02e1-0in adolescent glee.

The website, whose editor in chief, Julian Assange, is still living in political asylum at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, recently released tens of thousands of documents left over from the Sony hack late last year — the ones that the original hackers (North Koreans or whoever; the jury’s still out) hadn’t bothered to make public. Among those memos is a back-and-forth between Harvard professor Gates and Lynton about whether to expose the fact that Affleck had ancestors who owned slaves on Gates’s PBS documentary series, “Finding Your Roots.”


Affleck asked Gates to omit that part of his ancestry. Gates turned for guidance to Lynton, who said “all things being equal, I would take it out.” But Gates clearly knew it would be wrong to do so, telling Lynton that if the issue ever became public, “It would embarrass [the star] and compromise our integrity. . . . Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”

Well, consider it lost, Henry, since you did omit the Affleck family’s slave-owning past and, according to the lamest press statement since Mark Sanford hiked the Appalachian Trail, “focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry.”


Burr’s conclusion: “The stain isn’t that Affleck had ancestors who owned slaves. It’s that he thought we’d think less of him — or his celebrity brand — if we knew. And now, poor schmo, we do.”

A Globe editorial also spanked Affleck: “This Cambridge homeboy needs a reality check. You can edit truth out of movies, but not out of family history.”

Actually, it’s the Boston Globe that needs a reality check.

The issue here isn’t Ben Affleck, who did what most people might instinctively do. The issue is Skip (Journalism 101) Gates.

And the Boston Herald’s Mark Perigard nailed him on it in Thursday’s edition.

‘Roots’ censorship shows host Gates has got to go

Faces of America

Stop stalling, PBS.

You know what needs to be done.

Either cancel “Finding Your Roots” or fire host, executive producer and Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr.


As Perigard notes, Gates could have used this whole kerfuffle as a “teachable moment.”

He could have reminded [Affleck] he is not responsible for the sins of his ancestors.

He could have appealed to his ego and told him his reputation would only be enhanced by 
acknowledging this shameful bit of family history.

He could have informed him that previous guests — including Anderson Cooper, Derek Jeter and Ken Burns — have discovered slave owners lurking in their family trees.

Most critically, Gates should have recognized his own obligation to the truth.


But he didn’t.

The great Henry Louis Gates Jr. tried to cover his ass.

And, as Mark Perigard says, his ass should now be fired.

(More, no doubt, to come as we head downstairs for today’s papers.0

Globe Has Ad-vantage Over Herald in Tonight’s JFK/Jackie TV Bakeoff

November 11, 2013

Tonight C-SPAN debuts the latest installment in its First Ladies series: Jacqueline Kennedy. And both local dailies ran ads today promoting the program.

Boston Globe:


Picture 3


Boston Herald:


Picture 4


But go back to the Globe and you’ll also find this:


Picture 5


Note the time: 9 pm for both programs. And note that PBS apparently thinks Herald readers don’t watch public broadcasting. Wonder what gave PBS that idea?

P.S. To prep for the JFK premiere, check out Adam Clymer’s  Page One piece in today’s New York Times.

Textbooks Reassess Kennedy, Putting Camelot Under Siege




WASHINGTON — The President John F. Kennedy students learn about today is not their grandparents’ J.F.K.

In a high school textbook written by John M. Blum in 1968, Kennedy was a tragic hero, cut down too soon in a transformative presidency, who in his mere 1,000 days in office “revived the idea of America as a young, questing, progressive land, facing the future with confidence and hope.”

By the mid-’80s, that heady excitement was a distant memory, and Kennedy a diminished one. A textbook written in 1987 by James A. Henretta and several colleagues complained of gauzy “mythologizing” about his tenure and said the high hopes he generated produced only “rather meager legislative accomplishments.”


Ouch. Maybe the PBS show will teach us something new.

WGBH Herald Hostage, Day 4

October 11, 2013

As the hardreading staff has previously noted, the Boston Herald is on the WGBH/David Koch rumpus like Brown on Williamson.

Today’s installment:

Protesters say fight not over as WGBH brass stand by David Koch

Environmental activists say they have not yet begun to fight against WGBH, after the public TV station’s brass yesterday said they “appreciated” the protesters’ concerns about trustee David Koch, but they have no intention of booting the conservative lightning rod David Kochbillionaire donor.

“Just as our viewers and listeners reflect a full spectrum of political and cultural views, so do our board members,” WGBH spokesman Michael Raia said in a statement yesterday to the Herald.

“While the Board appreciated hearing the perspective of those who attended the meeting, they plan to make no changes.”


The protestors – all 50 of them – say they “plan to lobby the board’s 31 other trustees individually and ‘get them on the record on how they feel.'”

And some protestors will withhold donations to WGBH.  Brad Johnson of Forecast the Facts, “the group that helped gather 119,000 signatures calling for Koch’s ouster, citing his stance on global warming,” said the protestors “don’t want to be in a position where they’re supporting David Koch, and lending their legitimacy to his work.”

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe still isn’t covering the protest. Ditto for WGBH News.

Long live the feisty local tabloid!


WGBH Herald Hostage, Day 3

October 10, 2013

The Boston Herald has been on the WGBH/David Koch rumpus like Brown on Williamson, but today they’ve really outdone themselves.

Start with Page One.


Picture 1


The inside story (print headline):

Tough climate as WGBH faces protest over board member over conservative David Koch

WGBH board bigwigs were squirming yesterday as David Koch, one of the station’s biggest benefactors, was ripped by environmental activists — including one dressed as David KochElmo — who decried the conservative billionaire as a “climate 
denier” and demanded his resignation from the panel.

“This board would not tolerate a Ku Klux Klansman,” the Rev. Fred Small, a WGBH member and 
senior minister at First Parish Cambridge, told the trustees of the PBS flagship station. “It would not toler-
ate a notorious racist or 
anti-Semite. Yet you tolerate a man who has spent millions subverting democracy and disseminating lies about climate change in order to protect the profits from his own polluting industries.”


According to the Herald, WGBH board chairman “Amos Hostetter defended Koch, telling the protesters there’s no ‘political litmus test’ for board members. ” But, at least today, there is a Howie Carr test:


First of all, let’s call this WGBH-David Koch brouhaha what it really is.XSTU6785.JPG

It’s not a political fight, it’s a religious war.

Koch has blasphemed the Church of Climate Change, formerly known as the Church of Global Warming, except the P.C. shamans had to change the name 
because they couldn’t “hide the decline” in worldwide temperatures, to use a 
famous phrase from one of their prophets.

To those moonbats who were out on Guest Street yesterday — including the one dressed in an Elmo costume — David Koch is not a political foe, he’s an apostate, a heretic.

So they have declared a fatwah against him.


It gets more, well, inflammatory from there.

Crosstown the Boston Globe had no news coverage of the protest, but columnist Joan Vennochi did weigh in on The two David Kochs.

THIS IS a tale of two Kochs — the one who weeps for lab researchers in need of day care, but not for Americans in need of health care.181700483

David Koch, the philanthropist, was so moved by the pleas of MIT lab workers who said they needed day care that he ponied up $20 million for a child-care center at MIT.

Then, there is also the David Koch who, with brother Charles, helped to bankroll what President Obama described as a “cynical ad campaign” to discourage Americans from signing up for Obamacare. “These are billionaires several times over” said Obama, in what was reported to be a presidential reference to the politically active, conservative siblings and their effort to derail the Affordable Care Act.


He is also “the current target of environmental activists, who want WGBH to kick him off its board because of his climate change views,” Vennochi writes. “Koch helps fund Nova, the acclaimed PBS science show — but, according to the activists, has also worked to defund PBS.”

Sounds like double trouble to us.


WGBH Herald Hostage, Day 2

October 5, 2013

The Kochheads are here! Defenders of conservative billionaire David Koch are going after the liberal activists going after Koch for giving a reported $18.6 to local public broadcaster WGBH over the past three decades.

From today’s Boston Herald:

David KochKoch foes blasted for ‘politicizing’ public TV

Environmentalists seeking to oust conservative billionaire David Koch from WGBH’s board of trustees came under fire yesterday from media watchdogs who blasted the activists for “politicizing” public broadcasting.

“If the shoe were on the other foot, I think you would have outrage in a lot of places, that someone is trying to throw somebody off a board over their personal politics,” said Bob Lichter, president of the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

“My God, he’s supporting NOVA,” Lichter added of the PBS science program. “If you can get a climate change skeptic to give money to NOVA, I wouldn’t try to change that . . .


The environmental activists have gathered 70,000 signatures that they’ll try to present to WGBH trustees on Wednesday. One PBS critic, despite wanting to defund public broadcasting, calls the protest “political bullying.”

WGBH is essentially ignoring the protesters.

WGBH officials and Koch’s reps have brushed off charges that he wields influence in program decision-making. His company said he’s given $10 million to NOVA alone, and that he has no plans to step down in the face of the uproar around the Brighton studios.


Also ignoring the protesters: The Boston Globe.  Our stately local broadsheet has yet to mention the Koch rumpus, although the Globeniks will undoubtedly cover any protest next week.

Can you say Things Go Bitter with Koch?

I knew you could.


Fred Willard PBS Backlash Edition

July 22, 2012

After the Boston Globe got totally pwned on Friday by the Boston Herald and New York Times on the Fred Willard: At the Movies story, the local broadsheet bounced back on Saturday with the bounce-back against the firing of Mr. Worst in (PBS) Show:

PBS criticized for firing Fred Willard

The decision by PBS to fire actor Fred Willard after his arrest for lewd conduct at an adult movie theater in LA is spurring something of a backlash. The network wasted no time in canning Willard, who was narrator of the WGBH-produced show “Market Warriors,” a spinoff of “Antiques Roadshow.” (In a statement Thursday, WGBH flack Jeanne Hopkins cited “the unfortunate news” of Willard’s arrest as the reason for his immediate dismissal.) That decision didn’t sit well with a lot of people, some of whom tweeted #FreeFred and “Shame on you, PBS.” Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker also criticized PBS. “How does Willard’s innocent-until-proven-guilty status merit this? Will viewers really refuse to watch ‘Market Warriors’ because they’ll be repulsed, outraged, by the sound of Fred Willard’s voice?” Contacted Friday, Hopkins said she had nothing to add.

The Herald had nothing in Saturday’s edition. Ditto for the Times.

Score one (sad story) for the Boston Globe.


Fred Willard (Adult) Edition

July 21, 2012

“Best in Show” actor Fred Willard hit the news this week in some, well, unfortunate circumstances.

From Friday’s Boston Globe (link removed):

Fred Willard arrested

Actor Fred Willard was arrested Wednesday [!] on suspicion of committing a lewd act at a Hollywood adult theater. Los Angeles police said officers were conducting a routine investigation of the theater and saw Willard engaged in a lewd act.

That turned into “Worst in Show” for WGBH. From Friday’s Boston Herald:

“Best In Show” star Fred Willard, arrested for pulling a Pee-wee Herman in an adult movie theater in Los Angeles, was fired from his gig on a Boston-producedPBS series less than 24 hours later.

WGBH, which produces the “Market Warriors” show, terminated the comedian after Willard was charged with “lewd conduct” by undercover LAPD cops who allegedly caught the actor with his pants down in the Tiki Theater.

“Given the unfortunate news reported (yesterday), effective immediately Fred Willard no longer will be involved with the ‘Market Warriors’ series,” said Jeanne Hopkins, a spokesgal for Boston’s Channel 2.

The 70-something Willard was the narrator for “Market Warriors,” described as a cross between “The Amazing Race” and “Antiques Roadshow.”

To recap: The Herald was a full news cycle ahead of the Globe on this story.

Which seems totally appropriate.

P.S. Friday’s New York Times also beat the Globe like a rug:

Fred Willard Loses PBS Job After Arrest

The fallout has been swift for the actor and comedian Fred Willard, who was arrested in Hollywood on Wednesday night on a charge of lewd conduct. PBS said Thursday that Mr. Willard had lost his job as the wisecracking narrator of its new show “Market Warriors.” On Monday, PBS introduced the first of 20 episodes of this “Antiques Roadshow” spinoff,  which pits professional antiques pickers in a competition to spot the best bargain.

Jeanne Hopkins, a spokeswoman for WGBH, the Boston public broadcaster that produces the show, said via e-mail, “Given the unfortunate news reported today, effective immediately, Fred Willard no longer will be involved with the ‘Market Warriors’ series.” The host of “Antiques Roadshow,” Mark Walberg, will re-voice the episodes that Mr. Willard has already taped, Ms. Hopkins said.

To recap: Everybody was a full news cycle ahead of the Globe on this story.

Before you splendid readers start berating the hardworking staff of IGTLTDT – no, it doesn’t matter.

It’s just interesting.

(Editor’s Note: All quotes from dead-tree editions of the papers.)