Tag Archives: Scot Lehigh

Four smart people, two debates

In today’s Boston Globe, civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate and Globe columnist Scot Lehigh take on the issue of former Massachusetts Senate president Bill Bulger’s conduct with regard to his brother Whitey Bulger, the notorious mobster who’s been charged in connection with the killings of 19 people.

Silverglate argues that Bill Bulger, also a former president of UMass, was under no obligation to help authorities capture his brother, and that the testimonial privilege granted to spouses should be extended to other family relationships as well. Lehigh counters, “Faced with a moral dilemma, William repeatedly made the wrong choice, putting loyalty to his felonious brother over responsibility to his neighborhood, his constituents, or the larger public community whose university he led.” (Note: Silverglate and I collaborate occasionally, and the latest example will be online later today.)

On an entirely different matter, Slate media columnist Jack Shafer assesses Patch, AOL’s network of hyperlocal sites, and finds them lacking. “Besides being wildly expensive to create, hyperlocal news doesn’t seem to appeal to a broad audience,” Shafer writes.

That prompts a response from Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, an independent hyperlocal site in western New York. (Owens posts two comments; read the second one first.) Here’s an excerpt:

As my friend and fellow indie publisher notes, it’s only expensive if you have a big corporate structure to support and shareholder demands to meet. There are a handful of successful local online ventures that produce a ton of highly engaging, sought after, popular, memorable local news that do it at a fraction of the cost of the corporate entities.

I posted a brief comment as well, contending that Shafer’s complaint seems to be more about his lack of interest in community news than about anything intrinsic to Patch.

Instant update: Paul Bass, editor and founder of the New Haven Independent, just weighed in. And if you scroll way down, you’ll see a brief comment from another Media Nation favorite, Debbie Galant, co-founder and co-editor of Baristanet in Montclair, N.J.

The company that Charlie Baker keeps

The Hudakmobile

Scot Lehigh has a splendid column in today’s Boston Globe on Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s recent close encounter with William Hudak, a political extremist who has flirted with the birther movement.

Lehigh writes that “there are pretty clear signs that Hudak has wandered well north of the border that separates a hyperbolic political hopeful from a poisonous, insidious kook.” Hudak, a Boxford lawyer, is running for Congress against Democratic incumbent John Tierney this fall.

Anyone who has followed the Hudak saga over the past several months will be familiar with the inept shuffle he gives Lehigh as he tries to deny he ever believed President Obama was not born in the United States. More to the point, though, Lehigh criticizes Baker, a purported moderate, for attending a Hudak fundraiser, writing:

Yes, Baker’s camp disavows Hudak’s views. Yet a candidate is also known by the company he keeps. And it speaks poorly of Baker that he’s willing to countenance Hudak to court his supporters.

As Lehigh acknowledges, the story of Baker’s appearance was broken earlier this month by David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix. Lehigh also credits Media Nation for assembling some of Hudak’s most toxic materials.

You may recall that this all started with Hudak’s claiming the day after U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s victory over Martha Coakley that Brown had endorsed his candidacy. After I posted evidence of Hudak’s extremism, the Brown people made it clear that there had never been an endorsement — and even though Brown is generally thought to be more conservative than Baker, the senator has wisely kept his distance from Hudak ever since.

Anyone want to bet against Martha Coakley?

Martha Coakley

Martha Coakley

State Attorney General Martha Coakley is in a commanding position to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy now that former congressman Joe Kennedy has announced he won’t run.

I doubt many people are surprised by Kennedy’s decision. Last week, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) political analyst Jon Keller and Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh both gave Kennedy a taste of what he could expect from the sensible center had he chosen to jump in. Needless to say, conservative talk radio would have savaged him.

Who would want to bet against Coakley? Not me. While several congressmen ponder whether they should give it a try, Coakley is already off and running. She’s won statewide, and the times would suggest that voters may be looking for something a little different. As a woman and as someone who’s not part of the Capitol Hill gang, Coakley can position herself as an outsider.

As for the Republicans, so far the party has been unable find someone willing to be a human sacrifice. Former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey, who at least would have been well-funded, has decided against running.

Call this a gut sense rather than a prediction, but barring a major unexpected development — like Victoria Reggie Kennedy getting in — this race may be over before it even begins.

Photo (cc) by weinbergagain and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Democracy and the Senate (II)

The notion that the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald represent ideologically opposite editorial positions is overblown. The Herald and its editorial-page editor, Rachelle Cohen, aren’t really all that conservative. And the Globe, whose editorial page recently transitioned from longtime editor Renée Loth to former Washington-bureau chief Peter Canellos, is just contrarian enough on issues like charter schools to keep liberals agitated.

An exception is today. The Globe offers its full-throated endorsement to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s proposal that would allow Gov. Deval Patrick to name an interim senator in the event of a vacancy. The interim would serve until a special election could be held five months later. With Kennedy’s battle against brain cancer apparently entering its final stages, the matter has taken on special urgency.

In supporting Kennedy’s proposal, the Globe criticizes the Legislature for having taken the gubernatorial appointment away five years ago, when it appeared that Sen. John Kerry might be elected president and Democratic leaders at the Statehouse did not want then-governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, to name Kerry’s successor. The Globe calls the 2004 law “a partisan bill.”

Which, of course, it was. And which leads the Herald to invoke that same 2004 action as a reason to reject Kennedy’s current proposal, in an editorial headlined “Hypocrisy factor.” Continue reading

Crowdsourcing Severin’s errors

Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh writes that he’s going to try crowdsourcing Jay Severin’s errors. Good luck with that. Here’s my first contribution, based on listening just to part of his first hour yesterday.

A caller ripped the media for hounding poor Sarah Palin while letting Sonia Sotomayor get away with not giving interviews. At least Palin answered questions, the caller said. How can the media let Sotomayor get away with not giving interviews? (I’m paraphrasing from memory, but that was the gist.)

“Great point,” Severin responded, without bothering to point out that Supreme Court nominees, by longstanding custom, are not allowed to grant interviews. As Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said yesterday, he wants to begin hearings sooner rather than later so that Sotomayor can finally be heard.

Severin had to know better. By not only not correcting the caller’s error, but by amplifying it and giving him an “attaboy,” I’d say that qualifies as an error. So put it on your list, Scot.