Yesterday I wrote that an analysis by the Boston Globe’s internal investigators found no fault with Kevin Cullen. Reading the results of their investigation everything was copacetic. Yet the Globe hit him with an axe, or ax as some prefer to spell the word.
Aside from doing its own investigation, the Globe farmed out a different part of its investigation into the integrity of Kevin Cullen to some outside independent experts who were charged with investigating Kevin’s conduct as it related to the Marathon Bombing on April 15, 2013, five years ago. Some talk show hosts on WEEI with apparently an axe to grind (not too unlike LIzzy) against Kevin suggested he may have not told the whole truth about his involvement with the bombing.
The experts having this thrown on their laps were in the position of the barber standing by his chair who is approached by a customer who asks if he needs a haircut. You know the answer beforehand. In Kevin’s case, the experts to show their bona fides seemed compelled to come up with something, anything, that Kevin erred in doing. They started out by ensuring us that “the lifeblood of journalism is devotion to truth and the recognition that, when the devotion to truth is compromised, public trust is lost.” It would have been more appropriate to direct that to the president or to a columnist at the Boston Herald who took joy in seeing Kevin get suspended.
The experts in their report noted that Kevin’s biggest sin was what he reported from the Erie Pub late on the night of the Marathon bombing. Deputy Fire Chief Joe Finn said he was there and talked to Kevin. He gave him the name of young boy who was murdered, Martin Richard, whose grandfather I am told was one of my friends growing up.
Kevin called the Globe from the pub to add into his already prepared story. He said Martin Richard’s father had run in the race. He told how Martin ran up to his father after he crossed the finish line to hug him and then went back to the spot where he was murdered. It turned out his father did not run in the race.
The experts wrote: “it is essential that every reporter and editor repeatedly ask, “…and how do you know that?” while tracking back to actual eyewitnesses.” How is that to be done trying to get out the best story you can the night of such a tragic event? At the Erie Pub someone gave him bad information. He believed it. He made a decision to go with it.
It was wrong. Big deal! It made little difference to the happening. In my experience in the first few days you have a ton of misinformation after events that pale in comparison to those of April 15. Fortunately, as a prosecutor I could take my time sorting through it. I did not have to put the matter before the public the night it happened.
The experts seem to recognize this. So they change horses. They complain no correction was made of his wrong statement about Martin’s father. Apparently the Globe the next day or so should have run a correction telling us that he did not run in the race.
Really! Do you think you would have read it? Or it would have made a difference to you? The Globe reporters and editors were covering a huge event. As Kevin would write the day of the bombing which was published the next day: “In an instant, so many lives changed. Some ended. The telephone lines burned. Everybody was trying to figure out who and why. The cops I talked to were shaking their heads. It could be anybody. Could be foreign. Could be domestic. Could be Al Qaeda. Could be home-grown nuts.
The people at the Globe did not have a moment to spare. Remember the news conferences, the “shelter in place” nonsense of the whole city and surrounding towns because one person was at large and the phalanx after phalanx of heavily armed police offices pouring into the area. The Globe while admitting the chaos of the time suggests the correction should have been made. How did the failure to correct the error matter in the least?
The experts recognizing their case against Kevin was weak when it came to his erroneous writing that Martin’s father ran in the race moved on from what he wrote at the time to what he spoke about and wrote months later. More on that tomorrow.