By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The mother of all (potential) conflicts

You think the New York Times Co.’s 17 percent stake in the Red Sox creates a conflict of interest for the Times Co.-owned Boston Globe? It could have been worse — much worse.

Today the Globe’s Matt Viser checks in with a long front-page story on efforts by Joe O’Donnell, a part-owner of Suffolk Downs, to build a casino at the sagging track. Mayor Tom Menino seems to think it’s a good idea, which is a shame. It’s also a shame that so much of our local public discourse is now taken up by casino gambling.

Anyway, you may recall that last year retired General Electric chief executive Jack Welch and local advertising executive Jack Connors proposed to buy the Globe from the Times Co. Welch was the big celebrity, so he always got mentioned. Connors was the semi-celebrity, so he usually got a shout-out as well.

But there was a third member of the troika whose name often got left out — O’Donnell, who got rich selling hot dogs and popcorn at sporting events. How would you have liked the Globe to be reporting on a casino bid involving one of its co-publishers? Ugh.

My standard disclosure.

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  1. mike_b1

    Told you The Times wasn’t in play. hehe

  2. Peter Porcupine

    Dan – beware where this thinking takes you. Will it end with saying that the owner of the local Chevy dealership shouldn’t own a piece of the local weekly, because then it won’t give good placement to Ford ads?I cannot think of a newspaper owner since Charles Foster Kane who did not have commercial enterprises affected by coverage of news organs they owned.

  3. Steve

    Peter – how about Rupert Murdoch? (Now there’s a cautionary tale!)But it does beg a couple of questions: – If media companies have to diversify to become profitable, how can you avoid conflicts (as Peter points out)?- In any case, how would you prevent someone from buying a media company and creating such conflicts? The NYT is not a public trust, it’s a for-profit business. I think any laws limiting media ownership might have serious 1st amendment issues, no?

  4. Anonymous

    EB3 here,Dan, most respectfully, what are you talking about?Neither of the gentlemen you mentioned own the Globe now or are in discussions to buy the Globe.What other non conflicts can We come up with?

  5. Dan Kennedy

    EB3: I think I was clear. Perhaps not. I was simply pointing out what could have been. Obviously there’s no conflict now, nor do I mean to imply that the Globe should have disclosed anything with respect to O’Donnell.

  6. Anonymous

    EB3 hereOh.Never Mind.

  7. Peter Porcupine

    I prefer the cautionary tale of Pamela Harriman….

  8. Adam

    Dan,I’ve been wondering throughout the course of this whole casino hubbub to why no one has proposed the legalization of online gambling and implementing a phone bet system for the tracks like they have in NY.While these measures won’t deter the casino builders, they would eliminate much of the base that’s supporting them.I myself enjoy gambling responsibly but do not like the fact that I have to do it “illegally” through and places like that. I could care less about ever setting foot in a casino, and while I love horse racing, Suffolk Downs is and will always be a toilet. Just give us a place to go online and we’ll all forget about the casino. Heck, if Massachusetts were to set up a site where I could gamble legally through the state, they could tax my winnings and I would be fine with it, just as a long as I could do it legally.

  9. Anonymous

    EB3there is legal on line horse racing now. For tracks all over the countre.www.tvg.comchannel 260 on comcast.

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