Whitey Bulger’s Nemesis — Howie Carr’s — The Brothers Bulger

The Boston Daily a blog of Boston Magazine said in one of the great understatements of the last 20 years:  “As those who follow Boston politics well know, there is no love lost between Billy Bulger and Alan M. Dershowitz . . . .”

Carr asked Alan to write  a blurb in the inside flap of his  book The Brothers Bulger.  Dershowitz can hardly contain his glee and vile.  He proceeded to launch a vitriolic attack on Billy without mentioning Whitey.  You’d think it was Billy who was charged with the 19 murders.

Using Dershowitz pretty much sums up what Carr’s book is about: an intemperate attack against Billy based on his sibling connection to Whitey.  All of Billy’s actions are twisted and distorted.  Carr tells us in the beginning that much of the book is regurgitation of other books and newspaper articles.  It does have an index which is good, it has not footnotes or anything else to back up his assertions.

It has several simple factual errors.  To mention a few he calls Old Harbor Village by the name of Old Colony Harbor;  he deprives Massachusetts of a vacation resort by putting Salisbury Beach in New Hampshire; and he omits the Apalachin meeting when talking of J. Edgar Hoover’s epiphany about the Mafia but it does a pretty good summary of the issues surrounding the 1974 forced busing of Boston’s public school children.  I’ll talk about other things as we go along.

Carr is the radio entertaining darling of the begrudgers. He’s been using the epithet “corrupt midget” to refer to Billy for years to the delight of his audience..  It’s a nasty slap at a person who has no control over his height and who as a public official can’t really defend himself.

Carr has a radio show and a newspaper column.  His shtick is to ridicule so-called hacks (people who work in the public sector),  rail against elected Democrats (he lost a good foil when Ted Kennedy died), arouse the American xenophobes by denigrating immigrants (he plays la cucaracha when reading names of Hispanics who have been arrested), and plays off the dislike of people depending on government assistance.

He’s a throwback to the days of the Know Nothings when real Americans felt under threat from those dirty newcomers.  Or perhaps to the days of You-know-where-I-stand Louise Day Hicks who used  Southie’s feeling of threat from outsiders to seek public office.

He makes his money by keeping Americans hating each other.  Much like those who use street walkers and drive big Cadillacs which he also drives, he has utilized the services of a vile street gangster to put money in his pockets.  That’s also how he uses the Bulger brothers.

I didn’t read Carr’s book to find out anything about Whitey.  I knew he had less knowledge of Whitey things than I had.  I wanted to read about Billy’s corruption.  I knew that in 1988 the Boston Globe did a four day Spotlight Series on Billy and Whitey that all but disclosed Whitey was an informant.  Nothing about Billy’s corruption was mentioned.

In 2000, Gerry O’Neill and Dick Lehr wrote Black Mass about the Bulgers and nothing about corruption was mentioned outside of the so-called 75 State Street matter that may have raised eyebrows but did not amount to corruption.  (I’ll get into that in a later post.)

Reading Carr’s book closely, I found that Billy did nothing corrupt.  He did a lot of things Carr may not have liked especially in his capacity as Senate president but it was all done within the system.  No money was exchanged.  There were no benefits conferred upon Billy by others for what he did.  Dershowitz said Billy extorted and took bribes without pointing to any support for his comments.  Carr likewise comes up empty when I looked for what he alleges Billy did that shows he corrupted Boston for 25 years.

What I found was a great jealously.  I could almost see Carr writhing in agony at the things Billy accomplished, the people Billy met, the praise Billy received or the things Billy accomplished.  You can feel the hate oozing out of every sentence that contains Billy’s name.  To paraphrase  Judge Murphy, Carr confuses invective with insight and diatribe with facts.

I recall the words of Malcolm X when I think of Carr’s relentless unsubstantiated attacks on Billy.  He said: “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

I suppose if you asked most people in Boston what they thought of Billy they’d say he was corrupt.  Ask them why they say that, they say because Whitey is his brother.  Beyond that they have no answer.   In my book Don’t Embarrass the Family I have a whole section dealing with Billy.

I mentioned in a prior post you want to keep your minds open in these matters.  Let the evidence lead you to the result that you find comfortable.  Remember Carr never worked in law enforcement.  He has no idea how we operated during those years.


  1. Finally, this is the first time I’ve seen anyone cite Carr’s lack of credibility and inability to produce any third party to support his accusations. The Boston Herald (until it’s recent move) was located right over the West 4th Street bridge from “Southie”. There’s an incident that happened on Herald St and Harrison Ave that portrays Carr as just what he is, a coward. The Boston Herald building has the homeless shelter, Pine Street Inn, only a few hundred yards away. It’s an area that has it’s share of crime. Carr and another man (this man’s identity was never revealed) were leaving the Herald building when they encountered a woman crying out for help, she had been assaulted and her purse was stolen. The man with Carr ran to help the woman, he tried to catch the thief but wasn’t fast enough. The thief was a young black man. After the police were called and the woman given EMT medical attention Carr came from where he was “hiding”. Apparently when the woman cried out Carr ran the other way and was hiding in the lot where the Herald’s delivery trucks are parked. This “coward” writes demeaning articles in a manner that suggests he’s a tough, “go get ’em” type of man when all he is is a parasite who makes money distorting facts and insulting people I’m sure he has deep jealousy for with them having something he lacks, a spine.

    • Carr was never considered a tough guy. He was able to avoid Vietnam by staying in college. I’ve no doubt when Pine Street episode occurred Carr hid in the bushes. I saw him approach a guy connected with Angiulo wearing a black leather jacket in the court one day and the guy swipes him aside with his arm and Carr stood there stunned. He’s a bully with the newspaper column, the microphone and his book about the Bulger. Sadly, a lot of people think he’s on the level. I’ll have more to say against him as I go along. Thanks for the comment and I can’t say I disagree with anything you wrote.