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

Another distinguished nominee

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley throws her hat in the ring for a coveted 2010 Boston Phoenix Muzzle Award.

The Boston Herald keeps pounding away on Coakley’s absurd claim that she’s legally prohibited from talking about her campaign when she’s on state business — or even when she’s in the Statehouse.

It’s bad enough that she’d muzzle herself. But if she really believes what she’s saying, then she would muzzle others as well.

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  1. Newshound

    It is pretty obvious everything is about the Ice Queen and NOT the preservation or perhaps now restoration of our country and its historical values. And this at any expense of morality.

    If elected, she too, should fit in nicely in the Senate, in particular with Senators Dodd and Kerry. That is if Howie Carr doesn’t catch up with her game before election, or Michael Moore doesn’t have her for his proverbial lunch.

  2. Peter Porcupine

    DK – “She should muzzle others as well”

    Let’s see. So who else in the State House is running for higher office right now?

    There’s Scott Brown. Haven’t seen him talking campaign on the Senate floor. There’s Tim Cahill – while he sends endless tedious emails about the wonderfullness of his job as Treasurer, he hasn’t talked about Senate in them.

    So Coakley has the temerity to stick to AG issues while speaking as AG.

    Tell me, where are the ‘Crown Prince’ or ‘Scrooge McDuck’ attacks on Cahill for not answering Federal Roe v.Wade questions at his Treasury briefings?

    Chabot’s nasty sexism infused her story – her imagery deprived her of the right to an answer. Would you condone watermelon metaphors in a story about Patrick’s refusal to answer press questions?

    Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin went through the same crap. And you permit it in your comments.

    • Dan Kennedy

      PP: I agree with you that referring to Coakley as the “Ice Queen” is sexist. But, at least in my mind, it doesn’t rise to such a level of offensiveness that I’m going to delete comments containing the phrase.

      If other elected officials choose not to discuss their campaigns when they’re on state business, that’s fine. Maybe it’s even admirable. But Coakley’s contention that it is illegal to do so is deeply troubling. As Friend of Media Nation Harvey Silverglate told the Herald:

      “It’s not only an astonishing statement — it seems to me to be patently unconstitutional. It shows a disturbing ignorance of the duty of a campaigner and a disturbing ignorance of the First Amendment.”

  3. The Herald is shilling for another candidate and keeps spreading half truths about Martha Coakley- The neanderthals who comment are pathetically misinformed -no doubt because the Herald is their only source of news. Doesn’t any one understand that it’s inappropriate to label a woman who has been in public service,graduated cumlaude from Williams college and worked for little money for those without a voice- Ice Queen and “mean girl” – Just plain dumb talk- no substance- only ridiculous name calling- sexism thy name is Herald and their readership-
    The truth will prevail- sometimes hard work and experience actually do matter-

    • Dan Kennedy

      Boston Boomer: Just to be clear, my own comments have been directed solely at Coakley’s absurd position that she is legally prohibited from answering certain questions. I have no opinion about the substance of the issue.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Boston Boomer: I’m curious — whom do you think the Herald is shilling for? Not that the Herald is a uniformly conservative paper, but Coakley is probably the least liberal of the four Democratic contenders. (Pagliuca has given money to Romney and Bush, but is now running to the left.)

  4. Lee

    In light of how swiftly she jumped into the race and the talk about her funding, I’ve been surprised that we haven’t seen more of Coakley. You can flip to any TV channel and see Pagliuca and I’ve seen a couple of ads for Capuano. But I can’t say I’ve seen any Coakley or Khazei TV ads. Also, out here in Central MA, I’ve yet to see any lawn signs for any of them.
    – Lee

    P.S. To Peter Porcupine, Dan used the word “would”, but you quoted him as “should”.

  5. Newhound

    Graduating cum laude from Williams College is an extraordinary achievement and certainly to anyone’s honor.

    She also has been a successful campaigner in the past. But being an Ice Queen with a major Massachusetts daily newspaper hardly seems the way to win votes.

    I could suggest she take a refresher at Williams but I’d rather see how she acts from her heart and soul, and it appears that is what we are seeing now.

    Newspapers and reporters don’t have a right to bully any politician and reporter’s manners are important, but performance that earns the Ice Queen award on the front page of the Boston Herald is darn poor politics unless the candidate clearly is holding his or her ground for the public good and putting ethics and honesty first.

  6. newshound

    If Ice Queen is the nickname given in a major daily newspaper it is wide open for comment and exploration.

    Frankly, though, the name is quite fitting. I suppose Icicle would not be sexist, just like Mumbles. But, really, isn’t Martha kind of sexist, too? I have never man a man named Martha.

  7. OCDame

    Dan, you say that “ice queen” is sexist, but doesn’t rise to the level of offensiveness… So, some level of sexism is OK? Is some level of racism OK? Is some level of homophobia OK? Or do you only allow some level of sexism? Alternatively, maybe you believe that if somebody else used a slur first, that makes it OK to be repeated on your site? Seriously?

    • Dan Kennedy

      So, some level of sexism is OK?

      In a word, yes. We all make distinctions every day. For that matter, there are certain types of comments that might be seen as racially insensitive or borderline offensive to gays that I’m not going to edit. There’s a degree of political correctness here, but I don’t have the meter turned up to full.

      Are you able to distinguish between “ice queen,” “bitch” and, for instance, jokes about beating up women? I’m sure you can. So can I.

  8. the_bunk

    Boston Boomer’s claims that the Herald is shilling for one candidate are absurd; the fact that the AG doesn’t want to answer questions why she started running so early and often for this office are valid. The fact that she’s not answering questions makes it difficult for the paper to get stories aside from the ones that describe her inability to answer.

    I know people at the paper. They are not “in the bag” for any of the candidates.

    From my perspective, her career has been distinguished form the point that she likes the high-profile cases but she hardly delivers on the kind of convictions that of her peers.

    Her reputation could be better described. That is true, but you obviously give more weight to the depictions than the truth that the candidate does give off an air of arrogance seen in other pols like Mitt Romney.

    “I know better than you and you do not have the right to bother me”

  9. For goodness sake- Martha didn’t answer ONE question (not questionS)- and she gave a reason-Some may disagree with her reasoning but if this is considered “big news” the Herald, Phoenix and Media Nation are getting desperate. The Herald gets one lawyer, Silvergate- to excoriate Coakley- anyone question why another lawyer would be so derisive towards a colleague? Anyone over there investigate to see if he is supporting another candidate? Has had a personal issue with her? Where’s the balance- Dan- if the paper isn’t shilling they have certainly chosen Coakley for their hits- Recent stories used the outdated swiftboating term “Flip flop” two days in a row in headlines for goodness sake- it’s far too obvious for denial-Show me equal numbers of negative stories on the others?

    According to the Herald and it’s readership-besides being such a grandstander, a careerist, an opportunist-she’s arrogant (how dare she run for higher office)-a piece of crap-a piece of s…- Wicked Witch- ignorant- empty pantsuit-has a cougar aura-she should get a political spanking-a complete moron.-gosh 23 years in low paying public service jobs is such a devious way to weasel yourself into the Senate. A guy would never stoop that low.

    And “_Bunk” you “know” people at the paper- what’s that supposed to mean? They have all agreed not to support in unison? If Martha Coakley is giving off “an air of arrogance” that’s more as seen through your eyes not all of us. She cleaned houses for goodness sakes- she’s married to an ex-cop- she lives in a blue collar town- she grew up in a big family in western MA-this is no Diva- Sure she’s smart and if a smart woman is intimidating- I’m sorry but it’s not her fault.

    Dan- ask your mother- Ice Queen by anyone’s standards is not an appropriate label for a newspaper reporter to use- whether it’s for a woman or a man-it’s just plain below the belt- I do understand that that columnist is on the “pop culture” beat. At least the Herald is admitting they are treating this contest like a reality tv show- Who will be our next American Idol? Stay tuned.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Boomer: Harvey Silverglate is a friend and colleague. He is worth 10 lawyers.

      Coakley doesn’t have to answer the Herald’s questions. Perhaps she would make a splendid senator. But if she truly believes there are circumstances under which she’d be breaking the law if she answered those questions, then she knows less about the First Amendment than any ordinary citizen ought to know.

  10. Brad Deltan

    I’ll just say plainly what’s being implied here: it’s REALLY bad that the state’s ATTORNEY GENERAL…supposedly the topmost expert on the law in the state…has either a pathetically weak knowledge of what’s legal and what isn’t, or such a blatant disregard for the truth about what’s legal and what isn’t.

  11. Rick in Duxbury

    Maybe it’s just me but every time I hear someone whining about the “sacrifices” of public service or the alleged relevance of undergraduate grades, my BS/rhetoric detector gets buried to the right side. Mr. & Mrs. AG cash public paychecks for a quarter-million a year. Cry me a river.

  12. Neil

    “Some may disagree with her reasoning” to not answer a specific question.

    She said she could not answer it according to campaign law. That is transparently false. What are we to make of that?

    She fails on two fronts here; she is unable to handle the question and she relies on a falsehood that hurts her creditability as a lawyer.

    When it comes to an elected leader, I want one who is accountable to their constituents. What does this say about Coakley’s sense of accountability?

  13. Neil

    It’s too bad the Herald resorted to name-calling to characterize their view of Martha Coakley. The name-calling is cleary indicated with a gender slight and that is wrong and stupid.

    There are many relevant issues to discuss about Martha’s candidacy. Defending the Herald’s sexist name-calling isn’t one of them. I won’t. at The same time, it doesn’t excuse Coakley’s position on the issue of answering this question.

    Martha herself has said a women must be twice as good to compete. If that is so, why won’t she answer the question? Candidates half as good as her would.

  14. Newshound

    We all know why she chose not to answer.

    Calling her Ice Queen is perfectly acceptable in the tabloid, Herald, Murdoch-liberal journalistic style even if not so much in Dow Jones acquired publications. . . of course with an exception to outstanding writer Alan Abelson in Barons.

    The style of calling people Mumbles and Ice Queen is not acceptable in more serious to adherence to style newspapers such as The Globe and New York Times.

    In this case, Ice Queen is fun, appropriate, and thankfully there is more to journalistic style than just the Globe.

  15. Phil G.

    Wouldn’t it be great if just once we had an attorney general that wanted the job? There should be a prohibition against running for higher office by the attorney general for at least two years after LEAVING office. That way we wouldn’t have law enforcement decisions being made on the basis of how it affected the chances for election to a higher office.

  16. amused

    the Coakley campaign’s claim that it cannot answer questions about her performance as attorney general while on the campaign trail is one of the stupidest comments in recent Massachusetts political history.

    It’s the political equivalent of Dan Duquette’s “more days in first place” comment of several years ago

  17. the_bunk

    Again, Boston Boomer tries to obfuscate the debate by defending the “top lawyer’s” claims to some sort of conflict. Perhaps the AG is worried that she may have skirted the campaign finance laws.

    I do know people at the Herald and I’m sure they were coming to the defense of a fellow reporter. Why is is so strange that I “know” them?

    The fact that she “cleaned houses” and “married a cop” and “lives in a blue collar town” does nothing alter my opinion of her as an arrogant person. One’s background does not necessarily inform their humility or sense of self. Arrogance is not class-specific. It shows some ignorance on your part to believe that humility is always a foundation of those who grew up in a certain place in a certain economic group.

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