Trouble for a Globe columnist

Globe columnist Adrian Walker faces some serious trouble following his arrest Sunday on drunken-driving charges. The Herald runs with a fairly detailed story in which Walker’s lawyer, Michael Doolan, emphasizes Walker’s not-guilty plea and says that “we hope and expect he will be acquitted.” The Globe carries a brief item.

Walker is one of the good guys in local media. A respected Statehouse reporter, he landed a columnist’s spot following the Patricia Smith/Mike Barnicle meltdown of 1998. As a columnist, Walker has emphasized substance over flash. There are no verbal pyrotechnics in his pieces, but you generally learn something new.

23 thoughts on “Trouble for a Globe columnist

  1. mike_b1

    No doubt the Herald will make a meal out of this. (For starters, the paper calls Walker a “marquee columnist,” which is utter inflation). Both papers indicate Walker was driving a company car. The Globe also makes clear the car was a loaner. Here’s my question: Why would a columnist need to borrow a car from the pool? Is that typical? Or does he not own a car? Finally, as a public figure, should the Globe cover this with the same gusto as if it were, say, Mo Vaughn?

  2. Anonymous

    Given the time of his arrest, one can’t help think about Walker’s frequent complaints in his column that Boston’s early bar closing time precluded it from being a big-league city.http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2003/10/02/fear_of_fun_stifles_city/I hope this was an isolated incident of bad judgment. If not, I hope he gets the help he needs. But I’m guessing we’ve seen the end of columns advocating for bars to remain open later.My definition of maturity is knowing that if you go to bed now, you’re not going to miss anything.Bob in Peabody

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: If you’re one of the three people who gets his (her) mugshot on the front of City & Region twice a week, you’re a marquee columnist. By definition.

  4. mike_b1

    Dan, that may be so, but if you throw out Adrian Walker’s name in casual conversation just about anywhere around Boston, 9 of 10 people will probably think you’re referring to the former Celtic with the same surname. He’s no Barnicle/Carr/Shaughnessy/Ryan, etc. He’s not even the Track Girls. No one buys the Globe to read Walker. But that’s what the Herald suggests with its lede.

  5. Anonymous

    Mike_B1,It depends what kind of people you hang out with. If you throw out Walker’s name to black and Latino professionals, we know exactly who he is and appreciate that he’s one of the few journalists of color working at the Globe. Barnicle/Carr/Ryan, well, people who read them are of the Old Boston. The dying Boston, I might add.

  6. Anonymous

    I think the real question is that if he were arrested for DUI and coming from Silvertone’s downtown– where the hell is there a parking space near Silvertone’s? That’s what I want to know.

  7. mike_b1

    anon: Like I said, “just about anywhere around Boston.” I’ve worked here long enough to know there just aren’t (unfortunately) a whole lot of black and Latino professionals in this area. You’re talking about a tiny audience.Barnicle/Carr/Ryan readers might be the “dying Boston,” but Walker has done nothing to suggest he’s the heir apparent.

  8. Anonymous

    Mike, I’m white, I live in New York and I read Walker. When I lived in Brighton, I didn’t buy the print edition to read any one columnist, but his was a name that stood out for me (along with Goodman and Jacoby). Not suggesting that’s a trend, but his audience is wider than you might imagine.

  9. O-FISH-L

    Dan, did you really have to use “mugshot” in this situation? Talk about twisting the knife!mugshot noun a photograph of someone’s face (especially one made for police records) [syn: mug shot] WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: That was completely accidental on my part. I always refer to those pix as mugshots — as you can see from the way I worded that particular comment. No knife-twisting intended.

  11. mike_b1

    anon 4:00: I have no doubt Walker has his readers — especially among those who read a media critic blog. I read him for the same reasons I read everyone else in the local papers: because he’s in there. I read Jacoby too, and he’s just beyond insane. But I think the Globe’s own marketing strategy — which has to my knowledge never emphasized Walker — says it all.

  12. O-FISH-L

    I didn’t think it was intentional but I thought I’d ask. The reader’s comments on Jessica Van Sack’s Herald story on the Walker arrest are pretty interesting. Seems like a lot of Boston firefighters find Walker hypocritical for advocating drug testing for jakes and then allegedly drinking and driving himself in the company car.In checking out Walker’s recent columns on the issue, the one from Feb. 8th raised my eyebrows. In it, Walker advocates for “drug testing” but seems to avoid alcohol testing. He also singles out firefighter Warren Payne, who allegedly had traces of cocaine in his system, but Walker doesn’t mention firefighter Paul Cahill, whose BAC was allegedly three times above the legal limit and arguably more impaired than someone with traces of cocaine in the blood. It’s the first time I’ve seen one of the deceased FF’s mentioned in the media and not the other. Was Walker’s downplaying of alcohol abuse in the BFD an unintended revelation into his own behavior? Seems like it.From Walker’s Feb 8th Globe column:”It is both morally and practically imperative that the department change. When Firefighter Warren Payne died on duty last year with cocaine in his system, his death brought an old issue to light. For the sake of both the public’s safety and that of the firefighters themselves, testing and rigorous enforcement have to become nonnegotiable. And the changes should not stop there.”Glass Houses, stones?Fair or unfair, Walker’s two potential saving graces are his refusing the breathalyzer (meaning the breathalyzer cannot even be mentioned at trial) and the fact that the arrest was made by the MBTA Transit Police. While the MBTA Police have concurrent jurisdiction in communities where the MBTA operates, my experience is that juries and to a slightly lesser extent judges, have a hard time with the MBTA Police conducting traffic enforcement. That by no means is a reflection of my opinion of the MBTA Police, just what I have observed when they take traffic cases to court.Not to second guess the arresting officer, but I also find it odd that he first observed Walker’s potential impairment on Tremont Street (sitting at a flashing yellow light for 30 seconds), then observed more speeding / erratic operation on the Expressway, but he didn’t actually engage Walker until Walker had made it all the way back to the Globe on Morrissey Boulevard. So if Walker hadn’t stopped at the Globe, when if ever, was the MBTA cop going to make the stop? As Howie Carr likes to say, reasonable doubt at a reasonable price.

  13. Anonymous

    Dan, I’m offended that anyone would suggest Walker is a good columnist. He’s not. He’s lazy in his reporting, and often flat out wrong in his facts. As one of the few voices of color he’s remarkably remiss in writing about the problems of the black community in Boston. How about crime Adrian? How about education Adrian? But if you want to read a column about a two day old statehouse issue, he’s your man. Gimme a break. If the Globe does the right thing and encourage him to take a buy out, you might actually see some improvement in B1.

  14. Anonymous

    In response to anon 6:00:00:Are you really “offended” that Dan describes Adrian Walker’s column as “good”?Bob in Peabody

  15. Anonymous

    There are also parking garages in that neighborhood, closer than the Common garage (although that’s not too far either).

  16. mike_b1

    anon 6:00 and Bob in P: Dan neither called Walker a “good columnist” nor his column “good.” He called him a “good guy” and “respected” from whom “you generally learn something new.”Some would call that damning with faint praise.

  17. Anonymous

    Being a personal friend of Adrians’ aside, comparing drug testing of publicly (tax-payer)funded organizations and an employee of a private company (albeit publicly held)is duplicitous. The fact he was followed for such a distance, I would bet that incurred after the tags were run and it was discovered it was a Globe vehicle–Transit Police were probably waiting to “bag something big” given the recent exposure of T mistakes and the like. Anyone else would not be under this level of scrutiny. If he did make a mistake, he made the same one you and I have and never got caught doing. Simple as that. Plus, there is one other detail being overlooked–he was ‘DWB’ (driving while black). His journalism is not on trial nor should it be.

  18. mike_b1

    anon 2:40: Sounds like you want to put the police on trial. You ignore the obvious: He was allegedly driving under the influence. If so, he was a risk, to himself and others. That’s what most of us see, not who he works for, or his talents or his race.

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