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

The White House, the Herald and “The Mahatma”

Perhaps the dumbest aspect of the White House’s decision to snub the Boston Herald is that no one had to say a word. The Herald was not technically barred from covering a fundraiser by President Obama in Boston today. Rather, its request that a Herald staffer be a pool reporter was turned down. Not everyone gets to go.

But no. According to the Herald’s Hillary Chabot, a White House spokesman named Matt Lehrich felt compelled to put in writing his complaint about the Herald’s recent (boneheaded) decision to blast a Mitt Romney op-ed on page one. Lehrich demonstrated that he’s got a real problem with logorrhea, writing (and writing and writing):

I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters.

My point about the op-ed was not that you ran it but that it was the full front page, which excluded any coverage of the visit of a sitting US President to Boston. I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the President’s visits.

Clearly Lehrich has never heard of the great Martin Lomasney (“The Mahatma,” as he was called) and his first rule of politics: “Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.”

Lehrich also tells Chabot that the Herald will be considered for pool duty in the future, but the damage was done. The White House could send the right message of Lehrich is standing on an unemployment line by the end of today.

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Laura Crimaldi moves on to the AP


Reviewing the White House-Herald dust-up


  1. Mike Benedict

    How is this different from Obama snubbing Fox News, calling it (correctly) a mouthpiece for the GOP?

  2. Nancy Mades

    Unless this Matt Lehrich is in charge of actually deciding who gets into the pool, who, besides perhaps his parents and his undoubtedly similarly self-important coworkers cares what he thinks about anything?

  3. wilson tisdale

    Great historical reference! I’m impressed.

  4. B.A. DuBois

    Well, in Lehrich’s defense, all along it was claimed that this was going to be the most transparent Administration ever. So by publicly kneecapping the Boston Herald — in the traditional Chicago way of politics — Lehrich was just fulfilling a campaign promise….

  5. John F.J. Sullivan

    White House flacks ain’t what they used to be: competent.

  6. Heavens, the White House spokes people don’t even rise to the level of flack…which is a really low standard.

  7. BP Myers

    In answer to Mike, guess I’d say it’s no different, and then, as now, they have turned the media itself into the story, as opposed to the story they wanted to tell.

    This administration has demonstrated time and again it is it’s own worst enemy. Worse, things like this make them look small and petty, a far cry from being surrounded by Greek pillars.

    I think there’s yet time enough for them to pull something historically bone-headed, and believe it still only 50-50 Obama gets another term. Yes, even with the crazy cast of characters currently in the ring.

  8. Mike Benedict

    BP: Let me ask state that another way: Obama refused to kowtow to the rightwing media prior to the election, and it hardly cost him then. So why worry about it now? The Herald’s readers are NOT his base, and they aren’t voting for him anyway. So who cares if he offends them?

    I’d argue that fighting back against what has clearly been a rightwing agenda probably benefits Obama in the long run. The analogy is when Dictator Bush No. 1 lashed out at Newsweek for “The Wimp Factor” cover.

  9. BP Myers

    @Mike Benedict says: The Herald’s readers are NOT his base, and they aren’t voting for him anyway. So who cares if he offends them?

    I’m a Herald reader and I voted for him.

    Your point is invalid.

  10. BP Myers

    @Mike Benedict says: I’d argue that fighting back against what has clearly been a rightwing agenda probably benefits Obama in the long run.

    PS: How about fighting back against, you know, Republicans.

    Now THAT I’d like to see.

  11. Your credibility is shot, Dan.

  12. Aaron Read

    Quoted by Fox News?!?!

    So how dirty do you feel at the moment, Dan? And how much do you like it? 😉

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Aaron: I was on O’Reilly once. And I agreed with Bill-O!

  13. Mike Benedict

    @BP: n = 1. Whether you read the Herald, or own it even, and voted for Obama is irrelevant to the point.

  14. Mike Benedict

    @BP: The Republicans are the rightwing, and Obama does it all the time. Or did you forget this knockout blow he delivered last year?

  15. Rick Peterson

    Lehrich is David Axelrod’s nephew? Now THAT is funny.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Rick: Do you know who I am?

  16. Laurence Glavin

    Howie Carr phoned in another cliche-ridden column in the Chicopee Herald today. Here’s an idea: why doesn’t the Globe decline to print and deliver the Herald, even at some cost?

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