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

Mike Barnicle is up to his old tricks

In the annals of modern political commentary, few phrases have been associated with one writer the way the ironic “it’s not about race because it’s never about race” is associated with Worcester’s own Charles Pierce, who writes a political blog for Esquire. For an example, see Pierce’s post of August 27, 2014, headlined: “It Is Never About Race: A Continuing Series.”

And by all means, trying Googling it so you can see all the references to Pierce.

Then there is former Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle. On February 22, 2015 (sorry, but I only found out about this a few days ago), Barnicle wrote a piece for the Daily Beast ripping Rudy Giuliani for making veiled racial remarks about President Obama. So far, so good. But then there was this:

Let’s pause right here in this off-the-cliff assault by the former mayor to remind everyone of something Obama’s loudest critics always insist is the case: This is not about race because it’s never about race when it comes to nut-boys attacking the President of the United States. Sure!

Fairly innocuous as these things go? Well, yes. But given that Barnicle has a history of helping himself to other people’s words and phrases, I thought it was worth pointing out.

I emailed the Beast‘s editorial and public-relations departments late last week asking for a comment from an editor, Barnicle, or both. Crickets are chirping (a phrase that did not originate with me, I hasten to add).

And a hat tip to Dave Weigel of the Washington Post, who not only nailed Barnicle back when it happened but worked in a sly reference to Mike Royko while he was at it. Royko memorably accused Barnicle of pilfering his work back in the day.

Correction: The original version of this post misstated the date of Barnicle’s Daily Beast column.

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  1. Mike Pardee

    Zinging Barnicle on the race quote is a bit of a stretch. The phrase, or variants of it, are often seen in social and political comment about racial issues.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Let’s have some exact-word examples, Mike.

  2. It’s not about plagiarism because it’s never about plagiarism.

  3. Mike Rice

    Those who plagiarize just plain suck.

  4. Rick Peterson

    Barnicle’s brother the homicide detective and his wife the Northeast President of Bank of America have usually figured in his amazing “scoops”. Meanwhile he’s the most judgmental guy on the planet. Remarkable lack of self-awareness..

  5. Bob Gardner

    Nine words? Can you copyright nine words? What if Barnicle wrote something like “Of course it can’t be about race. We know it isn’t–ever–about race.”

  6. Bill Kirtz

    Barnicle stealing others’ words? I”m shocked! Shocked, I tell you. Say it ain’t so, Mike!

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