The owner of the Red Sox also is the owner of the Boston Globe. You’re probably saying to yourself so what. It’s really no big deal that the Globe’s sports department will always paint the Red Sox a rosy red, after all it is only a game, so whether it tells the story from a Red Sox perspective rather than a neutral view no one really cares because, as homers, we’re glad it is cheering for the team the same way as the rest of us even if to do so it has to distort the news to keep in the good graces of the owner.
Lately it seems that there’s more to the dual ownership than just telling us stories about the players and the outcome of the games on the field. It is that the Red Sox are more than just the team we all want to win; it’s really a business for its owner. He is using the team to make money for himself but also doing it in a less than salubrious way.
He’s doing the same thing with the Boston Globe. He has installed a new CEO, a guy named Michael Sheehan. Mike tells us flat out that the Globe is in business to make money, or as he said about the owner: “He’s all business.”
John Henry, a great America name making one think of Patrick Henry, is the owner I refer to. He not only owns the Globe and Red Sox but also the English Premier team the Liverpool Football Club which finished second last year in its league and the Roush Fenway Racing Group which races in the NASCAR circuit. This is all part of the Fenway Sports Group which also owns 80% of NESN.
Looking at the assets owned by John Henry he’s done a clever thing. He owns the sports teams and the main media entities that cover them. He insures himself control over the news that will come out about his teams. He may not directly interfere with it but everyone knows what the boss owns and there is the desire in most to please the boss. Nothing wrong with that as long as the public, by that I mean the sports fan, is willing to pay for the entertainment that John Henry provides and the newspaper he produces.
However, there is something wrong when a person like Henry who is making mega dollars is allegedly involved in a no-bid deal that is rushed through a Boston city agency, the Boston Redevelopment Agency (BRA), just prior to the end of a mayor’s administration that has the City of Boston surrendering to him city property in perpetuity at a price that seems grossly below market rate.
It’s fine for Henry to make as much money as he can. But when he allegedly uses his ownership of the icon upon which the Red Sox Nation worships to extract an unfair deal from the people of Boston one has to step back and wonder what the man is all about. Does he have any loyalty to Boston or is he just using it as a vehicle to enrich himself?
Reports have come out that allege he may be indifferent to the citizens of Boston but mainly concerned only about what is best for him. The BRA despite being asked by the State’s Inspector General to hold off on a vote to give away public property around Fenway Park rushed through a sweetheart deal for John Henry. Now one would hope a man interested in the City of Boston would not be interested in such a deal. You’d hope he would want everything to be above the board and done in an orderly manner and not squeeze every last nickel from the city’s taxpayers. But that seems not to be the case when it comes to being all about business.
Now this is something the Boston Globe would normally be all over: a no bid contract thrust upon the people without notice or a right to be heard surrendering the rights of ownership to city property to a private enterprise in the waning days of a mayor’s term. Yet it ignored it for the most part. All that came from Morrissey Boulevard where the Globe resides was the sound of silence.
Obviously, one can serve only one master. When it comes to deciding between the public weal and its boss, the Globe quickly knew on what side its bread was buttered. It served us poorly in this matter.
John Henry is a rich man. The silence of the Globe shows that it will let him wheel and deal freely. In one way his Globe has become a mouth piece for the Red Sox nation allowing Henry to conduct his business dealings with impunity.
I understand the Globe people holding their tongues to hold onto their jobs. I understand that the goal of rich people like Henry is to get richer. What escapes me is how that greed makes one willing to tarnish one’s reputation by engaging in transactions that leave a sour taste in people’s mouths. Even though the Globe was muzzled, the news about the deal got out.
Why did Henry want go along with a tricky procedure that left many to question it? Was he indifferent as to how he’d be viewed by the citizens of Boston? Or did Henry think he could keep it quiet forever with his control of the Globe?
This is a telling time for the Globe. It has shown it has lost its liberty to criticize its boss. Will the hard hand of John Henry bring it to its death or should the Globe demand, as Patrick Henry did, that John Henry give it liberty or give it death (shut it down).