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

Howie Carr actually finds a new line to cross*

There are certain ethical rules that journalists — even rabidly opinionated columnists — try to follow. You don’t donate money to candidates. You don’t put signs on your lawn. You don’t put bumper stickers on your car.

Then there’s Howie Carr, who’s speaking at a fundraiser on July 31 for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. Such activities, unfortunately, have long since become acceptable for radio talk-show hosts, and that is Carr’s main job. But he’s still a columnist for the Boston Herald.

The Boston Globe has a great quote from Tom Fielder, dean of Boston University’s College of Communication:

You cannot call yourself a journalist — even as a columnist — and actively support a political party. It strikes me that the Herald should now report Carr’s salary to the Federal Election Commission as a contribution to the GOP.

Is there anyone at One Herald Square who can tell Howie no?

*No, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s done this before. But if he did, I didn’t know about it.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Time enters the reality-distortion zone


George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010


  1. Steve Stein

    Wait – Howie Carr has called himself a journalist?

  2. Laurence Glavin

    Does anyone at the Chicopee Herald actually EDIT Howie’s stuff? Absolutely EVERYONE with whom he disagrees is ALWAYS called a “moonbat”. He regularly opens his column with the pharase “come on down, “. Office holders who are now EX-office holders are described as “having left office due to sickness…the voters got sick of them.” Cronies who get state or city jobs are always described as being selected “after a nationwide search”. The only government agency of any kind that Howie doesn’t attack is the Post Office, because Howie always mails it in (on radio too).

  3. Steve Stein

    Scott Rasmussen isn’t a journalist, but I would imagine the appearance of objectivity is every bit as important for pollsters.

    Or maybe not.

    “Scott Rasmussen, who maintains he is reliable and independent despite criticism from Democrats that he tilts to the right, will in November speak for no fee on a post-election National Review cruise to raise money for the conservative magazine.”

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: I think there’s a huge difference between helping out an ideological magazine as compared to assisting a political party or candidate. National Review is a real magazine that does real journalism.

  4. Steve Stein

    You’re right, of course. But I imagine if Nate Silver was to present at NetRoots Nation, no one would see a problem with it.

  5. Michael Pahre

    It’s not just talk-radio hosts who make political contributions — it’s so-called journalists in every medium, including some columnists. (Though political and news columnists ought to be the targets here, not tech columnists.)

    I remember one report from a few years ago about what journalists have contributed money to political campaigns… maybe this is it from MSNBC’s website.

    Note that, while most media organizations have some kind of rule against it (or you’re supposed to ask for permission), “Fox does allow news employees to make political contributions.” Their policy goes against the grain.

    Hence why Sean Hannity could speak at a Rudy Giuliani fundraiser in the 2007-8 presidential election cycle. He wasn’t violating company policy. But Dan Rather was violating CBS’s policy when he spoke at a partisan event.

    Does the Herald have a policy? Or might they have a permissive policy hold-over a la Fox from their Murdoch days?

    @Lawrence: You missed another one of his name-calling repetitions: Howie routinely calls every single government employee a “hack.”

    The irony is that “hack” has a number of meanings, one of which is laziness — which typifies the formulaic construction of many of his columns: Hack writer Howie routinely uses hacks to hack up his “hack”-filled column.

    Let me translate: Hack writer [low-quality journalist/writer] Howie routinely uses hacks [comedic shticks] to hack up [put together hastily, often cut-and-paste] his “hack”-filled [using the word “hack” itself] column.

    If Howie also becomes an open partisan for GOP fundraising, we can add one more “hack” to that sentence — “political hack.”

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Michael: As you point out, journalists are nearly always violating the rules when they’re caught making political contributions. which make them very different from radio talk-show hosts.

  6. Chris Matthews

    Regarding your asterisk – Howie and Christy Mihos had an interview pretty close to the Republican Convention and Christy mentioned how he had been to a few fundraisers for Republican candidates at Howie’s house in Wellesley. Does that count?

  7. Nial Lynch

    Was Jimmy Breslin at The Daily News when he was a DNC delegate for George McGovern?

  8. Joe Keohane

    Breslin’s stint as a ’72 DNC delegate fell between his stretches at the Herald Tribune and the Daily News. So did his independent 1969 bid for mayor of New York with running-mate Norman Mailer–about whom he told a reporter, “That bum is serious,” and said of their opponents, “I wouldn’t even let Norman debate those fuckin’ bandits; he’d get arrested for consorting.”

  9. Bob Gardner

    First you link to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics and then you come up with this:

    “I think there’s a huge difference between helping out an ideological magazine as compared to assisting a political party or candidate.”

    Really? How come this huge difference doesn’t show up anywhere in the Code of Ethics that you picked out?

  10. CE Stead

    FWIW, I’ve met Howie at various GOP events over the years – addressed a lunch of the Mass. Assn. of Republican Town Committees, for example.

    Until this past January, the Boston media couldn’t be bothered to cover these events, so his presence went unnoticed. After all these years, NOW you tell him it’s wrong?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @CE: He knew it was wrong all along.

  11. Hartley Pleshaw

    Dear Dan:

    Assuming that you didn’t bring it up on last week’s show (which I missed–sorry!–and may have been before the story broke anyway), why wasn’t the Howie Carr/GOP story featured on “Beat the Press” last night? It would seem to be an obvious topic of discussion, and more important than some of the topics that did get discussed last night.

    Just to add fuel to the fire, longtime Howie Carr readers (like me; I will admit to being a big fan of his in his early glory days) will recall his frequent (and entirely justified) lambasting of Globe writers–including opinion columnists–for their closeness to such pols as Kevin White and Michael Dukakis. (Howie was particularly incensed over the allegation [I don’t know if it was confirmed; maybe you do] that the late David Nyhan once wrote a speech for Dukakis.) Apparently, to use a word he invented (I think), it’s okay for Howie to be a “rumpswab,” but no one else!

    So, what’s next? Revelations that Howie still lives with his parents, gets a third income by driving a Big Scary Truck, or will take a drink under extreme social pressure?

    I still remember and revere the Howie Carr who courageously drove the Bulger Mob out of state government (if anyone ever really deserved a Pulitzer Prize, it was Howie for that work), among other meaningful accomplishments. I also remember–and miss–how entertaining his radio show was in the 1990’s. (Howie’s crew–Virgin Boy, Butchie and especially Giles–was one of the funniest I have ever heard on radio.) But post-9/11, Howie has willingly become little more than a Rush Limbaugh clone, a mere cog in the Murdoch/Ailes/Rove propaganda machine. It’s a pity, because while Howie was always conservative, ideology and partisanship once took second place in his work to good journalism and entertainment.

    No more, it seems.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Hartley: You still give Howie too much credit. He did some gutsy reporting on the Bulger mob, but I would suggest this was more important. I have nothing to do with what topics are and aren’t discussed on “Beat the Press.”

  12. Jeff Magidson

    Maybe someone can answer this question for me? Why is is wrong for Howie Carr an “editorial Columnist”to actively support a political party and it O.K. for newspapers like the Boston Globe and Boston Herald to routinely come out and endorse political candidates in major elections?

    I have always found this idea of newspapers “editorial boards” endorsing particular candidates as an egotistical power play and a belittlement of the idea that readers can make up their own minds as to who to vote for.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén