Now, here’s some must-see TV. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like we’re going to see it. Frank Phillips reports in the Boston Globe that former Boston Herald columnist Peter Lucas and the late Boston mayor Kevin White’s press secretary, George Regan, practically had to be separated by host Emily Rooney yesterday on the set of “Greater Boston,” on WGBH-TV (Channel 2).
Lucas, as you may know, had a legendary front-page exclusive in 1983 reporting that White would seek a fifth term. Lucas was wrong, and apparently on Tuesday he repeated his contention that White deliberately misled him as punishment for his tough, occasionally mocking coverage. Phillips writes that Lucas and Regan got into it hammer and tongs:
But the screaming match appears to have centered on whether White intentionally misled Lucas about his plan to run again, causing the erroneous headline and story or whether Lucas misinterpreted what White told him. The verbal exchange was intense enough that Rooney was forced to junk the take, calm down her guests, and reshoot the segment so it was suitable for television.
In an interview with Phillips, Regan denies that White intentionally misled Lucas. But as I wrote yesterday, I’ve heard Lucas discuss the incident before. It’s a great yarn — in Lucas’ telling, White gave Lucas the exclusive on the condition that Lucas not identify the mayor as his source, and then pulled the rug out from under him.
Lucas also claims that then-state treasurer Bob Crane was incredulous, telling Lucas he could have warned him away from the story. I’m not going to try to reconstruct something I heard Lucas say some 25 years ago, but essentially he responded that he saw no need to check in with Crane when he’d gotten his information directly from White.
Former Boston Herald editor Kevin Convey, who was a Herald staff member in 1983, tweeted this morning, “There was no doubt in Lucas’ mind or in the minds of the editors” that White had deceived him.
The “Greater Boston” segment was reshot, and Rooney’s conversation with Lucas and Regan is civil and noncontroversial. (Disclosure: I’m a paid contributor to “Beat the Press,” the Friday edition of “Greater Boston.) You can watch it above. The Lucas-Regan segment begins at 19:45.
Three observations: (1) I believe Lucas, even if White may have left himself some wiggle room; (2) I hope he writes about it; (3) it does not tarnish White’s legacy in any way to believe he was involved in a political prank of that magnitude. It only adds to his legend.