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Criticism of Globe Intensifying: Quick Notes on Brill's Content, Herald Coverage, Letter  

by Ken Sanes

Brill's Content has released an article on Boston Globe Editor Matthew Storin's handling of the Patricia Smith and Mike Barnicle controversies. It can be accessed on AOL, and in the paper edition of the magazine when it is released.

Here is a press release from the magazine, which was sent at this site's request on August 7:


"Not the First Time," from the upcoming issue of Brill’s Content is released today on the magazine’s AOL site. (The September issue, printed last week, will reach subscribers the week of August 17th. Because of this week’s controversy concerning Mike Barnicle, the article is being released early.) Brill’s Content’s feature is the first in-depth look at how The Boston Globe failed to confront serious allegations that its star columnists were fabricating their stories. The Globe looked the other way despite mounting evidence against Barnicle and Patricia Smith.

Smith resigned in June after confessing to inventing characters and quotes; yesterday, the Globe demanded Barnicle’s resignation after he admitted to publishing material that had originated with comedian George Carlin.

It’s the latest chapter in an unraveling story of how the Globe has for years contorted itself to avoid confronting two of its most popular columnists. Brill’s Content reveals new details about the Globe’s confidential settlement with Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz after he accused Barnicle of misquoting him. It also focuses on the performance of the Globe’s top editor, Matthew Storin—how fear of the fallout led to the bad decisions that have resulted in a crisis of credibility at the Globe.

For the full story by writers Abigail Pogrebin and Rifka Rosenwein go to: AOL, keyword: BRILL’S.

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The following item was written before the announcement that Barnicle will remain at the Globe.

Aug 11. -- The Boston Herald has done a scathing story on the Globe's continuing failure to come to a resolution over Mike Barnicle's recent use of stolen one-liners in a column. The Globe has called on Barnicle to resign. Barnicle has refused and the two sides have been involved in discussions.

Referring to a a meeting between Boston Globe Editor Matthew Storin, publisher Benjamin B. Taylor, and Barnicle, the Herald article says:

"One source at the newspaper was baffled by management's indecision.

" 'They met for an hour and didn't come to any conclusion, what a bunch of idiots,' said one longtime Globe staffer. 'The rank and file in the newsroom, reporters, editors, columnists, are almost unanimous in their belief that Barnicle has to go. No question. Many of us assumed that because Storin was back (from vacation), that it had to be settled today and early, and decisively and it didn't get done. It's embarrassing.' "

The Herald also quotes publisher Taylor as saying (in part) "This is a decision that cannot and will not be rushed." The Herald suggests that Taylor may be distancing himself from the demand that Barnicle resign.

The Globe did only an unsigned story today on page B3 saying the issue was still unresolved. The Herald has become the newspaper to read to find out what is going on at the Globe.

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Here is the larger part of a letter from a Barnicle supporter:

Subject: aren't we a little too harsh

I am writing in support of Mike Barnicle. I find him to be a breath of  fresh air in journalism and enjoy reading his column. I am saddened and angry that the Globe would ask him to resign. Obviously, he may have had poor judgement and maybe did deserve a suspension, but who hasn't made mistakes in journalism or any other career for that matter. Must we now ruin this man's career completely? I do not believe that this incident is anywhere near comparison to the Smith incident. Mike was writing a witty column and may have used "jokes", let's remember these are jokes, he was not intentionally covering up names.....

Sharon Shea


(Added later)  Aug. 3 -- Maine resident Mark Robinson discovers material in a Barnicle column that has obviously been lifted from a George Carlin book. He notifies the Globe and the Boston Herald.
Aug 5. -- After receiving a fax from Robinson the day before, the Herald does a story. Nothing appears in the Globe.
Aug. 6 -- The Globe finally does a story, revealing that Barnicle has been asked to resign.

You can go to the the main page: Cover-Up at the Boston Globe or to the Homepage for the Transparency website.