Boston Globe reporter Shelley Murphy appeared on WFXT-TV (Channel 25) this morning to talk about her and Maria Cramer’s impressively detailed story about Whitey Bulger and Catherine Greig’s life on the run. And it turns out that anchor Kim Carrigan asked her whether she had any concerns that the tipster who turned in Bulger and Greig, Anna Bjornsdottir, might be in danger as a result of the Globe’s having identified her. Here is Murphy’s response:
I can tell you that before we ran the story, we did speak to federal officials. We spoke to the U.S. attorney’s office, we called the FBI, we told them we were thinking of naming her, and it was never suggested to us that there was any issue of danger. And her husband, when he emailed us, said he was concerned about her privacy. So we would not have printed her name if we had been told that her life would be in danger. And I do want to note that there are a lot of witnesses cooperating against Bulger. They’re not in witness protection. There are a lot of people out there and have been for years who cooperated against him.
When I wrote my first item, I had hoped that the Globe would respond in tomorrow’s edition to the question of whether the FBI tried to talk the paper out of naming Bjornsdottir. (Actually, I still hope to see that.) I did not realize that Murphy had already answered the question. Since writing that item, I have learned that (1) Bulger and Greig almost certainly already knew Bjornsdottir’s identity and (2) the FBI had already been given a chance to make any objections known, and apparently chose not to.
The answers to my questions were already out there. That’s a failure of due diligence on my part. I will try to do better.