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

Howie Carr actually finds a new line to cross (II)

Good thing I covered my asterisk when writing about Howie Carr’s gig at a Republican fundraiser in New Hampshire. Because, as I suspected, he has done it many times. The former journalist sleepwalks his way through the details here.

To repeat: this is solely about Carr’s status as a Boston Herald columnist — not his job as a talk-show host for WRKO Radio (AM 680). It’s long since become accepted that radio folks will do such things, even though I don’t think they should.

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A morally repugnant ban against a journalist


Howie Carr actually finds a new line to cross (III)


  1. Michael Pahre

    I’m waiting for Carr’s carrion to show up here (and your previous post) dumping their comments on you. You know, like that other talk show host’s people did in the not-so-distant past.

    Or, maybe, you’ve just made it obvious — if it weren’t already — why your current commenting policy is on target.

    To the topic: by publishing this column of Carr’s, the Boston Herald has made it perfectly clear that they have a political activity policy for their journalists/op-ed writers that is similar to the policy at Fox News, i.e., that it’s OK to speak at partisan political fundraisers. That makes them the exception among news organizations, not the rule.

    Your beef ought to be with the Boston Herald’s editors and their editorial policy, not Carr.

    This story ought to be front-and-center in Friday’s Beat the Press — if WGBH’s producers have the guts to have the rest of the panel tell one of the regulars that his paper’s policy is wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Steve Stein

    @Michael: Your beef ought to be with the Boston Herald’s editors and their editorial policy, not Carr.

    Not to speak for Dan, but I thought it was. (“Is there anyone at One Herald Square who can tell Howie no?”)

  3. Michael Pahre

    The title of the blog post states that Carr is crossing the line, but by publishing his column, the Herald seems to imply that Carr is not “crossing the line” of their paper’s policy on partisan political campaign activity.

    It’s the paper’s implied policy that crosses the line with journalistic standards, although Carr ought to know better, too.

    The question isn’t whether or not “there is anyone at One Herald Square who can tell Howie no,” but whether or not anyone at One Herald Square can figure out that they appear to have a policy that violates core journalistic standards and that needs to be changed.

  4. Bob Gardner

    I read the SPJ code and there is simply nothing there that distinguishes partisan political activity from any other activity which might compromise a journalist’s independence.

    There is a code which makes that distinction, but the Hatch Act applies to Federal Employees, not journalists. Maybe Dan is confusing the two codes.

    But unless Dan is talking about the Hatch Act, I don’t see that Carr has crossed any lines.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Bob: Hilarious. You should get an agent.

  5. Jeff Magidson

    I asked a question in response to the previous Carr post but I was a little late to the party so I will ask it again here:

    Why is is wrong for Howie Carr an “editorial columnist” to actively support a political party while it is a standard practice 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 to the concept that readers can make up their own minds as to who to vote for.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Jeff: Having written many candidate endorsements for the Boston Phoenix, I think the biggest problem is that they’re a waste of time. I doubt many people read them, and I’m sure no one is guided by them.

      But you raise a good question, and I’m not sure I can answer it very well except to fall back on the standards and traditions of journalism. When a newspaper endorses a candidate, it is an expression of institutional support, made by the paper’s opinion operation. In theory, it should have no effect whatsoever on the paper’s coverage. In practice — well, that’s another matter.

      Moreover, a newspaper endorsing a candidate can be seen as being the same as a columnist writing whom he or she is voting for. I don’t think it’s good practice, but it’s not unheard-of, and it’s certainly less problematic than diving into the tank with campaign donations, fundraising events and the like.

  6. Bob Gardner

    Go ahead, Dan, wipe that smile off my face. Show me where in the code of ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists that a distinction is made between partisan political behavior and other activity that compromises integrity. I used the link you provided and I didn’t find it.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Bob: There are obvious equivalents. For instance, if you’re going to cover abortion, then you shouldn’t belong to a pro-life or pro-choice organization. I just have no idea where you’re going with this.

  7. Donna Morris

    @Jeff – I share your opinion on newspaper editorial boards endorsing political candidates. It’s common practice here in Canada. In addition to your objections, I believe it creates a real or perceived conflict of interest in political reporting.

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