Newspapers
MIKE’S COLUMNS IN NEW ANTHOLOGY “DEADLINE ARTISTS” AVAILABLE T...

Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns

Screen shot 2011-09-23 at 11.43.19 AM.png

Edited by John Avlon, Jesse Angelo & Errol Louis

At a time of great transition in the news media, Deadline Artists celebrates the relevance of the newspaper column through the simple power of excellent writing. It is an inspiration for a new generation of writers—whether their medium is print or digital-looking to learn from the best of their predecessors.

This new book features two of Mike’s columns from The Boston Globe. The book says, “Barnicle is to Boston what Royko was to Chicago and Breslin is to New York—an authentic voice who comes to symbolize a great city. Almost a generation younger than Breslin & Co., Barnicle also serves as the keeper of the flame of the reported column. A speechwriter after college, Barnicle’s column with The Boston Globe ran from 1973 to 1998. He has subsequently written for the New York Daily News and the Boston Herald, logging an estimated four thousand columns in the process. He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe as well as a featured interview in Ken Burns’s Baseball: The Tenth Inning documentary.”

Read the columns here (you can buy the book by clicking here)

“Steak Tips to Die For” – Boston Globe – November 7, 1995

Those who think red meat might be bad for you have a pretty good argument this morning in the form of five dead guys killed yesterday at the 99 Restaurant in Charlestown. It appears that that two late Luisis, Bobby, the father, and Roman, his son, along with their three pals, sure did love it because there was so much beef spread out in front of the five victims that their table-top resembled a cattle drive.

“All that was missing was the marinara,” a detective was saying yesterday. “If they had linguini and marinara it would have been like that scene in The Godfather where Michael Corleone shoots the Mafia guy and the cop. But it was steak tips.”

Prior to stopping for a quick bite, Roman Luisi was on kind of a roll. According to police, he recently beat a double-murder charge in California. Where else?

But that was then and this is now. And Sunday night, he got in a fight in the North End. Supposedly, one of those he fought with was Damian Clemente, 20 years old and built like a steamer trunk. Clemente, quite capable of holding a grudge, is reliably reported to have sat on Luisi.

Plus, it is now alleged that at lunch yesterday, young Clemente, along with Vincent Perez, 27, walked into the crowded restaurant and began firing at five guys in between salads and entrée. The 99 is a popular establishment located at the edge of Charlestown, a section of the city often pointed to as a place where nearly everyone acts like Marcel Marceau after murders take place in plain view of hundreds.

Therefore, most locals were quick to point out that all allegedly involved in the shooting—the five slumped on the floor as well as the two morons quickly captured outside—were from across the bridge. Both the alleged shooters and the five victims hung out in the North End.

However, yesterday, it appears, everyone was playing an away game. For those who still think “The Mob” is an example of a talented organization capable of skillfully executing its game plan, there can be only deep disappointment in the aftermath of such horrendous, noisy and public violence.

It took, oh, about 45 seconds for authorities to track down Clemente and Perez. Clemente is of such proportions that his foot speed is minimal. And it is thought that his partner Perez’s thinking capacity is even slower than Clemente’s feet.

Two Everett policeman out of uniform—Bob Hall and Paul Durant—were having lunch a few feet away from where both Luisis and the others were having the last supper. The two cops have less than five years’ experience combined but both came up huge.

“They didn’t try anything crazy inside. They didn’t panic,” another detective pointed out last night. “They followed the two shooters out the door, put them down and held them there. They were unbelievably level-headed, even when two Boston cops arrived and had their guns drawn on the Everett cops because they didn’t know who they were, both guys stayed cool and identified themselves. And they are going to make two truly outstanding witnesses.”

The two Boston policemen who arrived in the parking lot where Clemente and Perez were prone on the asphalt were Tom Hennessey and Stephen Green. They were working a paid detail nearby which, all things being equal, immediately led one official to cast the event in its proper, parochial perspective: “This ought to put an end to the argument to do away with paid details,” he said. “Hey, ask yourself this question: You think a flagman could have arrested these guys?”

The entire event—perhaps four minutes in duration, involving at least 13 shots, five victims and two suspects caught—is a bitter example of how downsizing has affected even organized crime. For several years, the federal government has enforced mandatory retirement rules—called jail—on several top local mob executives.

What’s left are clowns who arrive for a great matinee murder in a beat-up blue Cadillac and a white Chrysler that look like they are used for Bumper-Car. The shooters then proceed to leave a restaurant filled with the smell of cordite and about 37 people capable of picking them out of a lineup.

“Part of it was kind of like in the movies, but part of it wasn’t,” an eyewitness said last night. “The shooting part was like you see in a movie but the fat guy almost slipped and fell when he was getting away. That part you don’t see in a movie. But what a mess that table was.”

“We have a lot of evidence, witnesses and even a couple weapons,” a detective pointed out last evening. “But the way things are going in this country it would not surprise me if the defense argues that they guys were killed by cholesterol.”


“New Land, Sad Story” – Boston Globe – November 23, 1995

Three Cadillac hearses were parked on Hastings Street outside Calvary Baptist Church in Lowell Tuesday morning as an old town wrestled with new grief. Inside, the caskets had been placed together by the altar while the mother of the dead boys, a Cambodian woman named Chhong Yim, wept so much it seemed she cried for a whole city.

The funeral occurred two days before the best of American holidays and revolved around a people, many of whom have felt on occasion that God is symbolized by stars, stripes and the freedom to walk without fear. But a bitter truth was being buried here as well because now every Cambodian man, woman and child knows that despite fleeing the Khmer Rouge and soldiers who killed on whim, nobody can run forever from a plague that is as much a bitter part of this young country as white meat and cranberry sauce.

The dead children were Visal Men, 15, along with his two brothers Virak, 14, and Sovanna, 9, born in the U.S.A. They were shot and stabbed last week when the mother’s friend, Vuthy Seng, allegedly became enraged at being spurned by Chhong Yim, who chose her children over Seng.

There sure are enough sad stories to go around on any given day. However, there aren’t many to equal the slow demise of a proud, gentle culture—Cambodian—as it is bastardized by the clutter and chaos we not only allow to occur but willingly accept as a cost of democracy.

The three boys died slowly; first one, then the other in a hospital and, finally, the third a few days after Seng supposedly had charged into the apartment with a gun and a machete. He shot and hacked all three children along with their sister, Sathy Men, who is 13 and stood bewildered beside her howling mother, the two of them survivors of a horror so deep their lives are forever maligned.

At 10:45, as the funeral was set to begin, two cops on motorcycles came up Hastings ahead of a bus filled with children from Butler Middle School. The boys and girls walked in silence into the chapel to pray for the dead who have left a firm imprint on their adopted hometown.

The crowd of mourners was thrilling in its diversity. There were policemen, firefighters, teachers and shopkeepers. The young knelt shoulder-to-shoulder with the old. There were Catholic nuns and Buddhist priests. There were friends of the family as well as total strangers summoned only by tragedy.

A little after 11 a.m., Hak Sen, who drove from Rhode Island, parked his car by the post office and headed toward Calvary Baptist Church.

“I am late. I got lost,” Hak Sen said.

“Are you a friend of the family?” he was asked.

“No,” he replied. “I do not know them. I come out of respect and sadness. We all make a terrible journey to come here to America and this is very, very bad.”

Hak Sen said he and his family were from Battambang Province, along the Thai-Cambodian border. He said that he served in the army before Pol Pot took over his country and that he and his family were forced to flee but not all made it to the refugee camps.

“I am lucky man,” Hak Sen pointed out. “I survive. My wife, she survive and two of our children, they survive.”

“Did you lose any children?” he was asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I lost three boys, just like this woman. Three boys and our daughter. They all dead. The malaria killed them in the jungle. There was not enough food and no water and they were young and could not fight the disease and they died. They all dead. My mother and father too.”

The innocent children inside the church as well as the big-hearted citizens of Lowell along with the majority of people who will buy a paper or carve a turkey today simply have no idea of the epic, tragic struggle of the Cambodians. They left a country where they were killed for owning a ballpoint pen or wearing a pair of eyeglasses to arrive in this country where, each day, we become more and more narcoticized by the scale of violence around us.

At the conclusion of the service, Lowell detectives Mike Durkin, John Boutselis and Phil Conroy helped carry the caskets to the hearses. The procession wound slowly through city streets, pausing for a few seconds outside the Butler School, where pupils lined both sides of the road like grieving sentries as the entourage entered Westlawn Cemetery.

“This is as sad as it gets,” said Roger LaPointe, a cemetery worker. “We cut the first two graves the end of last week but the funeral director told us we better hold on. When the third boy died, we had to cut it some more. It’s an awful thing. That hole just kept getting bigger.”

MIKE ON MORNING JOE



Screen shot 2011-08-24 at 3.45.48 PM.png

Screen shot 2011-08-24 at 3.46.19 PM.png

Mike Barnicle reads from a Richard Cohen Washington Post column on Rick Perry’s opinion on global warming. Cohen writes: “Perry has given us a glimpse of what happens when his ideology collides with reality.”

Is Perry playing to constituency on global warming?

REMEMBERING MYRA KRAFT

With husband Bob, Myra Kraft attended many fund-raisers, smiling and greeting donors.
With husband Bob, Myra Kraft attended many fund-raisers, smiling and greeting donors. (1997 File/The Boston Globe)

Boston Globe Columnist / July 21, 2011

She was the conscience and soul of the Patriots, a woman who came to football reluctantly, through marriage, then used the currency of football fame to enhance her lifelong missions of fund-raising and philanthropy.

Myra Kraft was a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother. She spent her life trying to make things better for everyone else. And we can pay tribute to her here on the sports pages today because by any measurement, Myra Kraft was one of the most important women in the history of New England sports.

“Without Myra Kraft, it’s quite possible we’d be going to Hartford to watch the Patriots,’’ former Globe columnist Mike Barnicle said yesterday after it was announced that Myra succumbed to cancer at the age of 68. “Obviously, Bob Kraft has deeps roots in this area, but Myra was so much a part of this community – the larger community beyond the sports world – she was never going to allow her husband to leave.’’

We all knew Myra was failing in recent years, but she never wanted it to be about herself. Through the decades, thousands of patients were treated at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, but when Myra got cancer there was no announcement; instead, the Krafts announced a $20 million gift to Partners HealthCare to create the Kraft Family National Center for Leadership and Training in Community Health.

It was always that way. You’d go to a fund-raiser and Myra would be standing off to the side with Bob, smiling, greeting donors, and gently pushing the cause of the Greater Good. They were married for 48 years and had four sons who learned from their mom that more is expected of those to whom more is given.

It’s fashionable to enlarge the deeds of the dead and make them greater than they were in real life. This would be impossible with Myra Kraft. She was the real deal. Myra Hiatt Kraft was a Worcester girl, a child of privilege, and she spent her life giving back to her community.

Not a sports fan at heart, Myra was a quick study when Bob bought the team in 1994. Sitting next to Bob and eldest son Jonathan, she learned what she needed to know about football. When something wasn’t right, she spoke up. Myra disapproved when the Patriots drafted sex offender Christian Peter in 1996. Peter was quickly cut. She objected publicly when Bill Parcells referred to Terry Glenn as “she.’’ Like Parcells and Pete Carroll before him, Bill Belichick operated with the knowledge that Myra was watching. Keep the bad boys away from Foxborough. Don’t sell your soul in the pursuit of championships.

The base of Myra’s philanthropic works was the Robert K. and Myra H. Kraft Family Foundation. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston were a particular passion. Among its other missions, the Kraft Foundation endowed chairs and built buildings at Brandeis, Columbia, Harvard, BC, and Holy Cross.

BC and HC are Jesuit institutions. Myra Kraft was Jewish and worked tirelessly for Jewish and Israeli charities, but that didn’t stop her from helping local Catholic colleges.

“She was the daughter of Jack [Jacob] and Frances Hiatt,’’ Father John Brooks, the former president of Holy Cross, recalled. “Jack was a great benefactor of Holy Cross. He was on our board and was a very important person to the city of Worcester. I was a regular attendee of the annual Passover dinner at the Hiatt home when Myra was still living in Worcester. What struck me about Myra was that she was very proud and was a wonderful mother to her four boys.’’

During the 2010 season, Myra steered the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation toward early detection of cancer. Partnering with three local hospitals, the Krafts and the Patriots promoted the “Kick Cancer’’ campaign, never mentioning Myra’s struggle with the disease.

Anne Finucane, Bank of America’s Northeast president, held a large Cure For Epilepsy dinner at the Museum of Fine Arts last October and recalled, “Myra showed up at our event even though she was battling her illness and they were in the middle of their season. That’s the way she was. She could come and see you and make a pitch on behalf of an organization. There are people who just lend their name and then there are people who take a leadership role to advance an issue. She was a pretty good inspiration for anyone in this city.’’

Just as it’s hard to imagine the Patriots without Bob Kraft, it’s impossible to imagine Bob without Myra. After every game, home or away, win or lose, Myra was at Bob’s side, waiting at the end of the tunnel outside the Patriots locker room.

We miss her already.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist.

FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE

By Dan Shaughnessy

Globe Columnist

July 20, 2011   

Next time you feel like ripping Terry Francona, try to remember that the man has a lot on his mind. The manager’s son, Nick Francona, a former pitcher at the University of Pennsylvania, is a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, serving a six-month tour, leading a rifle platoon in Afghanistan. Twenty-six-year-old Nick is one of the more impressive young men you’ll ever meet. In a terrific piece for Grantland.com, Mike Barnicle asked Terry Francona how’s he doing as the dad of one of our soldiers at war. “I’m doing awful,’’ answered the manager. “My wife’s doing worse. I think about it all the time. Worry about it all the time. Hard not to. Try and stay away from the news about it. Try not to watch TV when stories about it are on, but it’s there, you know? It’s always there.’’

Mike Barnicle Remembers reverend Peter G...
By Jess Bidgood

 

Mar. 1, 2011

BOSTON — The Harvard community — and people the world over — is mourning the death of Reverend Peter Gomes, the man who ran the university’s Memorial Church for over forty years.

Gomes died Monday night because of complications from a stroke he had in December. He was 68.

The Reverend Peter Gomes died Monday at the age of 68, after a more-than 40-year ministry at Harvard University.

Gomes’ longtime friend, writer and columnist Mike Barnicle, met Gomes because the two would regularly spend early mornings at the same restaurant. “He was an education to sit with, next to, to listen to, a sheer education. Not just in terms of his moral values but his view on the world,” Barnicle told WGBH’s Emily Rooney on Tuesday.

A black, openly gay minister, Gomes was a decided rarity. He came out about his sexuality in 1991.

He was also politically conservative for most of his career, although he changed his political affiliation to Democrat to vote for Gov. Deval Patrick in 2006.

Barnicle said Gomes learned from his own experience being different, and set out to help others with theirs.

“He was was an expert at honing in on the demonization of people,” Barnicle said. “He could see people and institutions being demonized well before it would become apparent tthat they were being demonized.”

That, Barnicle said, gave Gomes a sense of fairness that underguarded his political and religious beliefs.

“It’s not fair to go after people because of who they are, or because of their sexual orientation, or because of their color, or because of their income, or because of their zip code. That’s who he was, he was an expert in what’s fair,” Barnicle said.

Gomes was known for his soaring, intricate speaking style. “I like playing with words and structure,” he said once, “Marching up to an idea, saluting, backing off, making a feint and then turning around.”

“His sermons were actually high theater in my mind,” Barnicle remembered.

Gomes did not leave behind a memoir; He said he’d start work on it when he retired, at 70. It’s a shame, Barnicle said. “We need more of him than just a memoir, we need people like him every day.”

Gomes reflected on his life’s work — and his death — on Charlie Rose’s talk show in 2007.

I even have the tombstone the verse on my stone is to be from 2 Timothy. “Study to show thyself approved unto God a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” That’s what I try to do, that’s what I want people to thnk of me after I’m gone. When I was young, we all had to memorize vast quantities of scripture and I remember that passage from Timothy I thought, ‘Hey that’s not a bad life’s work.’ And in a way I’ve tried to live into it. So my epitaph is not going to be new to me, it’s the path I have followed in my ministry and my life.

MIKE BARNICLE IN KEN BURNS’ “BASEBALL: THE TENTH INNING,” DEBUTING T...

Mike Barnicle talks about the baseball gloves he’s had since 1954. “The Tenth Inning,” is a two-part, four-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that premieres this week, September 28 & 29th at 8pm ET on PBS. A new chapter in Burns’s landmark 1994 series, “Baseball,” “The Tenth Inning” tells the tumultuous story of the national pastime from the 1990s to the present day.

Mark Feeney from the Boston Globe says, “Mike Barnicle, who toiled for many years at this newspaper, serves as representative of Red Sox Nation. One of his great strengths on both page and screen has always been what a potent and vivid presence he has.”


BARNICLE INVOLVED IN AN MSNBC FAMILY “FEUD”

Hotline On Call/National Journal

By Rachelle Douillard-Prouix

During this morning’s broadcast of “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s Willie Geist had a (lighthearted) bone to pick with Mike Barnicle over sarcastic comments the latter made during the show’s Wednesday broadcast. To highlight the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center that took place last night, Geist reported live from the courtyard.

Barnicle, following Geist’s report from in front of the hulking tree: “I finally realized what I want for Christmas, Willie. I would like to see that tree fall right on you right now.”

Geist reported this morning on the show that he had received many emails regarding Barnicle’s comments, and demanded an apology.

Geist: “He said he wanted the tree to fall on me. I’ve received a number of emails, including from members of my own family, attacking Mike Barnicle.

Mike Barnicle, what say you, sir?”

Barnicle, reading from newspaper coverage of the statement golfer Tiger Woods released in light of his own recent controversy: “Willie, and all of you people out there, let me just say, I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all my heart. I have not been true to my values in that statement yesterday.”

Continued Barnicle: “And I’m far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior, and personal failings, behind closed doors with Willie and my family. So, I beg your forgiveness.”

Geist: “I forgive you for your personal failings. Thank you, Mike Barnicle. Apology accepted.”


BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Media coverage of those who sacrifice for our cou...

7/27/09: Barnicle tells the story of Marine Cpl. Nicholas Xiarhos, a local 21-year-old man who died recently in Afghanistan, and the minimal newspaper coverage of his and other soldiers’ deaths.

Listen here: http://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/07/27/72709-marine-cpl-nicholas-xiarhos.aspx?ref=rss

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.


BARNICLE’S VIEW ON WTKK: Michael Jackson funeral coverage over the top

7/8/09: Mike laments the over-the-top coverage of the Michael Jackson funeral service the day prior, citing the foolish and the fringes dominates the news.

Listen here: http://barnicle.969fmtalk.mobi/2009/07/08/7809-tv-coverage-of-michael-jackson-funeral-service.aspx

“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 6:55a & 8:55a.

MIKE BARNICLE TALKS TO BOSTON MAGAZINE

Read it here: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/barnicle/

   37528_article.jpg

Top of Mind: Mike Barnicle

Journalist, Long-Distance Commuter, Father of Seven, Survivor, Age 65, Lincoln

By James Burnett

Is it possible Mike Barnicle is still the most obsessed-about journalist in town? One could make the case: Consider the fuss when he joined Jack Connors and Jack Welch in trying to buy the Globe, and the further fuss that followed his rumored job talks with WBUR. Meanwhile, more than a decade after losing his marquee Globe column for sins against journalism, Barnicle is a fixture on NBC and MSNBC, and fields assignments from Newsweek and Time. On 12/5 at the Charles Hotel, he talked with Boston about those projects—and shared his thoughts on a few other topics, too.

James Burnett: For a Boston guy, you spend a lot time in New York.

Mike Barnicle: New York is about success. Boston is about resentment. In New York, there is only one question asked, “Can you get it done?” Then it’s up to you. But it’s a magnificent city. Just walking around Central Park, which I try to do every day that I’m down there, do 4 or 5 miles in the park, walking briskly, and the treasure that is Central Park—lots of cities have different treasures. Boston has its own treasures, but it’s pretty hard to beat Central Park.

Burnett: There’s an emerging debate about what to do with the Common, what role it should serve…Seems to me it’s good that people are talking about it at all. We take it for granted, but it seems like a good comparison.

Barnicle: Well yeah, if you look at the Common, that’s a good comparison. If you look at the Common, I think you’d find a lot of people that say the problem with the Common isn’t the Common, it’s downtown. Specifically Downtown Crossing, which despite every effort that’s been made over 30 or 40 years, has never really clicked. So you have one end, the Commonwealth Avenue, Newbury Street, Boylston Street end, that is attractive and has enormous appeal, both for people with money, looking to live in town as well as commercial appeal for people looking to shop. You look at the other end, and it’s pretty tough to look at, despite years of spending money and thinking the big thoughts about it. It’s not the Common’s fault. It’s that area of Downtown Crossing.

Burnett: One thing I found surprising…. Is how hard it is to get anything done.

Barnicle: Yeah, it’s a unique area. I mean, I’ve lived here all my life. I love it. I don’t want to “live,” in quotation marks, anywhere else, but it’s nearly impossible to get anything done as quickly as things ought to go get done in this particular state, in this particular area. There’s always another obstacle. There’s always someone with another obstacle once you’ve made that hurdle.

Burnett: Going back to the various things you’re working on these days. Which of them is most gratifying for you?

Barnicle: Writing. I’m working on a piece for Time magazine. I write occasionally for the Herald. Newsweek, written some stuff for them. Huffington Post, they call and ask for stuff. The writing is obviously the most rewarding.

Burnett: Given your background, and the work you did early in your career, tell us something most people miss, or misperceive, or get wrong about Obama’s speeches, as he’s considered the great orator of this moment.

Barnicle: I don’t know that they get anything wrong about his speeches. I think, you know, perhaps, given the past eight years in this country, they might have a little too much optimism when they hear him, which is not a bad thing. I mean, when you hear him speak, when you see him in person, when you see the crowds, he sort of puts a smile on the face of the country that hasn’t been there for quite some time.

I first noticed it in Iowa last summer, not the summer of ’08, the summer of ’07. When you would see people who would show up at his rallies, and if you looked at their feet, they’re all leaning forward, even though some of them were quite close to him. They didn’t have huge Secret Service protection. But people were leaning forward, and the metaphor back then would be: they’re leaning into this change; they’re looking for the door to open. The sense of optimism that that he brought to the campaign, the sense of promise, the sense of potential, I don’t think those are bad things, but we live in a culture that is so geared toward instant gratification. I mean, the TV clickers, and the drive-thru windows.

We teach history so poorly in this country, I just hope that a lot of people aren’t disappointed that the stock market isn’t up around 12,000 by Valentine’s Day. Oh my God, you know he’s a failure. What’s this thing about change? You know, he hasn’t changed it. Change will come, but it’s going to take a while, and I don’t know that enough people in this country, especially young people, are prepared to wait for the change.

Burnett: Are you going to the inaugural?

Barnicle: Yeah.

Burnett: Working?

Barnicle: Yeah, as one of 500 million people.


Burnett: You mention the Dow and the financial crisis. What are your conversations about that topic like with your wife [Bank of America marketing chief Anne Finucane], given your role and perspective, and person ideology, if you will.

Barnicle: I don’t speak to my wife about her business. I don’t understand her business. My wife is so much smarter than I am that, you know, I don’t go there. She gives me an allowance every week that I’m very grateful for, and that’s about it. I think I might understand a bit of the social and cultural appendages that spring off of the financial system, but everything else is way beyond me.

Burnett: You combine some of your comments on Obama, and the thought there… It doesn’t sound like you’re particularly hopeful for a quick or easy turnaround.

Barnicle: Actually, I kind of am. I am, if nothing else, an optimist. I think my optimism, along with a lot of other people’s optimism has already been rewarded, you know, in the sense that here we have a President of the United States, who, four years ago, the day after he gave his speech at the Democratic National Convention here in Boston, was pulled out of the line over at Logan Airport, going back to Chicago to continue his campaign for re-election, because of what he looked like and his name. Barack Hussein Obama. And now he’s President of the United States. And that’s a hell of a tribute to this country. It’s an amazing statement both about him and about us as voters. So I am optimistic. I’m not entirely optimistic that things are going to be terrific by Memorial Day, but I think he’ll slowly but surely, and the people around him, will turn the country in a direction that it needed to be turned for quite some time.

Burnett: Interesting contrast, perhaps, with some of the things in the headlines here locally. Couple of questions about local political scene. Who impresses you right now at the state or local level?

Barnicle: Sam Yoon, he impresses me. He’s young. He’s got energy. He’s smart. He looks to me not to be a career guy, in terms of, among the City Council, “What else can I run for?”, although I’m sure that’s within him. I met him once or twice. I like Michael Flaherty. I think he’s bigger than a lot of people think he is, and this is in no way to diminish Tommy Menino, who I think has done a pretty good job, given the increasingly meager circumstances that he has to deal with.

At the state level, I don’t see a whole lot there. Something has happened slowly of the course of 25-30 years to diminish the industry, if you will, of politics. It’s no longer the profession that it used to be. You’d have to be out of your mind to run for public office today. Say you’re 32, 35 years of age. Say you were fortunate, you lucked out, you made a little money, or maybe not, but you have this great interest in public service. You want to be able to get a fire hydrant or a crosswalk, or a little league field in your neighborhood. So you run for City Council or State Rep., you know, but then two or three months over the course of your campaign or maybe after you win, someone like me, or someone like you, is going to come knock at your door, and say “James, we heard you smoked a joint when you were 19 years of age down at Duke University. Can you explain that?” And instead of having the wherewithal to tell people like us, “Hey, go fuck yourself, it’s none of your business,” you know, these poor people stand there and get hounded by us.

So I’ve got to assume there are a lot of other people out there with reasonable IQs who say, “I don’t want any part of that. I don’t want my kids reading about me in the front page of the paper that I smoked a joint when I was at Duke University. What has that got to do with anything?” So I think for that and a lot of other reasons, the level of talent in government is much lower than it has been, for a while. I think in too many cases, both in the State House and in various city councils, not just Boston, various city councils, you have a bunch of people serving, and they are holding the best job they’ll ever have. They’re not going to leave the legislature or the council and take the vice presidency of Google. That ain’t going to happen. And you can see the results. I think some of the results are obvious. The histrionics that we go through to get things done, and the other aspect of it is, once you are in public life today… everything and everyone is part of an interest group. There’s nothing you can say that won’t offend someone. There’s nothing you can try doing that won’t be attempted to be blocked by someone.


Burnett: It’s interesting how much of it you lay at the feet of the people in your business, the press.

Barnicle: I think, listen, it’s still a great, but vastly diminished business, due to economics and everything like that. I don’t think we treat people very well in the media. Both as customers, and I call them customers, of newspapers and magazines, or TV news, and we don’t understand that the greatest story that we could tell each and every day, is the story of the people around us. The people who buy the product, who buy the papers, who buy the magazines. And there’s an attack mentality, especially in newspapers, TV is basically skywriting, especially in newspapers, that makes people uncomfortable. It just does. And to ignore that, to deny, that that’s the case, is foolish. You know, I’m not saying every edition you have to have all good news in the paper, that can’t happen. But the things that we fail at, I happen to think, my opinion, are the most critical aspects of our culture. We fail to cover public education in the country, the way we should. Whether we’re talking about the Boston public school system, the New York, or the Washington public school system.

We fail to cover it, and I’ve always believed that you can go into a third or a fourth grade class in this city or any other city and you are going to be looking at the face of the future of that particular city. And we have no frame of reference for it. There are very few people working at the New York Times, or the Boston Globe, or theWashington Post, who have a couple of kids in public schools who are just scraping to get by. We live a pretty comfortable life, comparatively speaking, members of the media. We get a paycheck, and we’ve lost—I think, for no other reason than the demographics of the business—we’ve lost the capacity to feel part of the community where we grew up. That’s obviously the result of a lot of different things.

When I first worked at the Boston Globe, everyone in the newsroom went to places like Boston University, where I went, or Boston College. There were several people from Harvard there. They could tell you all the stops on the Red Line. They grew up here. They lived here for long periods of time. Their family was from here. They would actually know people who were firefighters, or cops, of school teachers. It’s nobody’s fault, and that’s happened less and less. It’s happened all over. It’s become like a prized profession. You went to Duke University. You’re from Pennsylvania. What are you doing here for Boston magazine? It’s a bonus of a job.

Burnett: When you were doing the column, you certainly wrote a lot about the people who were the readers, the customers… Does this represent an evolution in your own thinking about the role, and the effect of that kind of coverage?

Barnicle: No. I’ve felt like this for years. For years. If you look back, I don’t know what you’d call me attacking someone. I used to go to the State House to the office of the late [Senate President] Kevin Harrington, and sit on his couch, and smoke a cigar. I mean, Bill Bulger didn’t speak to me for about 10 years, because I accused his brother of being the kingpin of the drug trade in South Boston in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but I have had relationship with these people. I liked them. I liked politicians.

It was obviously a different time, a different atmosphere. I think we do a lot better job today of investigative journalism, oddly enough. I think, like the Globe spends more time, more money on it, but you’d be hard put to find better pieces that the old Spotlight team used to do on no-show jobs in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but there was less antagonism, [between] the subject and the newspaper people doing it.

The no-show jobs thing, one of the big elements of that series — God I remember it like it was last week — was Sonny McDonough, former Governor’s councilor, from South Boston, and he used to spend most of the year in Marathon Beach, Florida. The night before the installment that features Sonny, I called him up down in Marathon Beach, it was about 10 o’clock at night. I said, “Hey, it’s Mike Barnicle from the Globe, sorry I have to be a pain in the ass.” “Mike,” he says, right away, “Why change now?” I said tomorrow they’re doing the thing in the paper, the no-show job. You haven’t been to a council meeting in seven months. I said, you know, do your constituents have your phone number down there? Can they get a hold of you? How much would it cost to get a hold of you if they have a problem? He says, right away, “Mike, all my constituents use slugs.” It was better back then. You sound like you’re 110 years old when you talk about it, but there was less antagonism in the air than there is now.

And that’s just not the fault of newspapers. The appetite for cable TV, they’ll tell you cable is conflict, that’s added to it as well. The explosion of the Internet, that plays a part in it. Cable is conflict.


Burnett: You said Bulger didn’t talk to you for 10 years… Did something happen to break the ice there?

Barnicle: You know, I think what happened there was it had to be maybe the early ’80s when I wrote a couple of things about his brother, Jimmy, Whitey, basically saying you can’t move an ounce of cocaine in South Boston without his approval. Bill Bulger was furious, insisting to me that his brother was not a drug dealer, had nothing to do with drugs… In retrospect, clearly he believed that then. Somewhere along the line, I think he probably came to the realization that his brother was into a lot more than he wanted to believe. I don’t know how the relationship thawed, but it began to thaw, and I had lunch with him one day over in South Boston, probably a year before the 2004 gubernatorial election, and he was so very proud to take me out to the parking lot and show me his car, and the bumper sticker on his car, which was a “Deval Patrick For Governor” bumper sticker, and of course, part of the reason was, he hated Tommy Reilly, the then Attorney General. There’s a story to it all. But I think Bill Bulger probably went at least four or five years without talking to me because he was so offended by my inaccuracy about his brother.

Burnett: Ever any encounters with a guy like Dershowitz?

Barnicle: Alan! Sure! I see Alan a lot, I see him at Fenway Park a lot. As a matter of fact, I got him a couple of tickets to a play off game a couple of years ago… Alan’s a good guy.

Burnett: But famously someone that you sparred with.

Barnicle: Sure, yeah. The sun comes up every day, you know. Every day is new.

Burnett: So you guys have buried the hatchet?

Barnicle: Yeah, oh yeah.

Burnett: Where do you get your news from on a daily basis?

Barnicle: I read about four or five papers a day, the actual print product. Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, theTimes, Globe, Herald, and then the gift of the Internet. I look at several more. I don’t really browse many blogs.

Burnett: In some ways, do you think blogs have taken the place of newspaper columnists?

Barnicle: I realize this is the view of someone who has been in the print business for a long time. But I think blogging, by and large, is basically therapy. And I’m sure, and I know, that there are some terrific bloggers, and some legitimate bloggers. But I think by and large, a huge percentage of people who are blogging, are doing it for self-therapy. They have a voice. Who reads that voice? Who listens to that voice, reads, pays attention to that voice, I have no idea. My larger issue with blogging, is I think what it does, when it comes to newspapers, and I understand the cutbacks, the economics of newspapers, but when you take gifted reporters out, covering anything from a baseball game to a city council meeting and say, “You need to blog something on this, we need to get it on the website…” I think what you do, what happens, the danger is that you don’t get the opportunity to think enough about what you just witnessed or what someone just said.

One of the big shortcomings of the American newspaper industry, not so much magazines, because you have time, is this tendency to rush everything on the website, because you have to blog about it. In addition to it being a lot of work, writing is a lot of work, and [blogging] doesn’t give you the time to stop and think. To frame it up. There’s some reference point to what you just saw or what you just heard. Years ago, you’d go out and do the reporting for a column, something that happened in the morning or someone you saw in the morning. You’d have time to get a cup of at coffee the Java House on East Broadway in South Boston, go down to the water, sit there in the car, and think about what you just witnessed. And what it meant in a larger context. Violence in the city. Murder on Humboldt Avenue. What did it mean? Wasn’t there some other murder that occurred two blocks over? What did that have to do with that? Are they linked? Why is it that all of these things occur within six blocks of one another? But if you’re going to blog it, it’s going to go out of your mind. You’re not going to think about it. We don’t think enough in this business. Slow down. Think about things.


Burnett: Any columnists you consider a must read?

Barnicle: My friend Steve Lopez at the L.A. Times. I think pound-for-pound, he is the single best newspaper columnist going—city columnist. I think Kevin [Cullen]’s doing a good job [at the Globe]. But I don’t know that a lot of publishers want columnists.

Burnett: Well, it’s part of the Globe’s DNA.

Barnicle: If you look around a lot of newspapers, they’re in such critical shape. I don’t think a lot of publishers are looking for city columnists, metro columnists, someone to mix it up.

Burnett: Why not? Purely financial, or something deeper?

Barnicle: I think it probably is something deeper, and I’m not smart enough to figure it out, or see that deep. Part of it is financial, part of it is, I think one of the problems with the newspaper industry is that it’s run by a bunch of old white guys, and they think like old white guys. They’re just getting over the fact that TV is here to stay. They haven’t even gotten to the Internet, and what that’s doing to their business. And you know, it’s jump ball every day at four o’clock. What are we going to be tomorrow? And I’m not just talking this city. Other than the Times and the Post, and the Wall Street Journal, it’s: What are we going to be tomorrow? Are we going to be a city paper? A regional paper? What are we going to do about Condoleezza Rice in Mumbai? Where do we put it? On page one? On three? We have that great story about a baby being born on the middle of the Mass Pike. That’s a reader.

And the larger issue obviously is there is, and they’ll have to find a way to cope with it, is there’s no more news. You get it on your belt buckle. Fifteen seconds after it happens. Your toaster. Your blender. You’ve got 600 channels at home. That morning paper, the people who go out to the end of the driveway or to go into the variety store, to pick up that paper, they all look like Wilford Brimley. And these old white guys running these papers haven’t figured that out. They haven’t figured out that three blocks from here you have the Harvard Crimson, the Harvard Lampoon. And over there, hire some 23-year old kids, but bring them back into the building, show them a desk, take their phone away. Shut their phone off, and say “Hey kid, it’s 10 o’clock in the morning. Go out the door. Come back at five with a story.” And the kid will say, “What kind of a story?” Any fucking story. A story. Go get a story. Don’t sit here and call people up. Go get a story. Go ride the train. Go sit in the Boston Common. Watch people pass by. Try to imagine what they do for a living. Why is the guy wearing one brown shoe and one black shoe? Why is the 65-year old guy carrying a school bag? Why is the nurse crying sitting on the bench? Go write a story. People like to read about people. That’s never going to change.

Burnett: That’s something you obviously used to do. Collecting stuff. You’re still writing, but do you miss that stuff?

Barnicle: Yes, I do miss it. I was younger then, I like people. I still do it, I don’t write about it a whole lot, but I still do that sort of thing. I did it yesterday. I was in Greenwich Village, at a place called Viceroy, at 18th and 8th, sitting in there, having a cup of coffee with someone, just shooting the shit. Yeah, I miss the interaction that there used to be. I miss a lot of the people who are no longer in the business. I miss what the business used to be. I am glad it’s still around, I hope it’s around forever. I sometimes have my doubts. But the answer is yes. I don’t miss seeing my name in the paper.

Burnett: Why not?

Barnicle: I don’t know. I never really get a high out of it, the way some people do, I never sat there and thought, “I’ll show ‘em” or “I’ll change things” or “this will have an impact.” I never thought like that. In some ways I think I’m fortunate that I never thought like that.


Burnett: In some ways, the columns seem to be animated by that sort of thing, that there was an agenda. That you had something to say, things you wanted people to be aware of, powerful people you wanted to be held accountable. It wasn’t driven by that?

Barnicle: Not really, no, because I think one of the most difficult things to do. You can make people laugh. You can make people cry. But I think it’s a bridge too far to make people think. If they do, if they think about it, if they pause for a second, and think about something you’ve written, then that’s a real bonus. But to get into it, thinking, “I’m going to make them think about this one…” It never worked for me.

Burnett: Could you do it three times a week, if you had to?

Barnicle: I could do it seven days a week. Still today. I am constantly amazed at the number of people who think I’m on vacation. The people who call me with story ideas, or something that happened to them or some injustice, no exaggeration, on the average of four or five times a week, I’ll bump into someone at the airport, at the ballpark or wherever who says, “You know, you wrote a thing about my brother-in-law, or my father.” On the average of a couple of times a week, I’ll get calls from someone who says, “Hey, Mike, my kid’s having a tough time and something happened to him…”

Burnett: Giving you a tip, or pitching you for a piece. So the material would be there, clearly. Back to the newspaper industry, because you’ve got strong opinions about it, and I thought your comments were particularly relevant to the Globe… What should it be? If someone said to you, “Here’s the keys,” what do you do?

Barnicle: I don’t know if I would be doing a whole lot of things differently than what they’re doing right now. I think Marty Baron is a terrific newspaper editor. It’s a struggle each and every day to put that product out, given the diminishing resources, given the lack of energy that exists around the entire industry, given the cutbacks. I don’t know that I would be doing anything a whole lot differently. It’s still a pretty good looking paper. We get it in New York at 6 o’clock in the morning. Good-looking paper today. I have no idea how many people are in that newsroom today, but I’ll bet you it’s less than half the people who were in the newsroom 10 years ago. So, finding people who can write now, maybe a couple of stories a day, as opposed to a 10-15 years ago, people who would take 3-4 days to write one story. That’s tough. It’s a tough job.

I might try to beef it up with a little more humor. I might actually go over to the Lampoon and hire a couple of kids and have a “funny thing happened to me yesterday” page. Because at some point, if you don’t start attracting people your age to look at the paper, to buy the paper, then it is going to disappear, and it is going to only be online. So you have to keep thinking about ways to get new readers. And I’m not talking about 52-year-old guys who moved here from Battle Creek, Michigan. I’m talking about kids who go to school here, who might pick it up for the sports page, and eventually stay here, maybe live here, to get them to keep buying the printed product.


Burnett: I guess I’ll be honest and say I’m surprised that you went as easy as you did on the paper. Given, only a year or two ago, some serious talks about you, Jack Welch, Jack Connors [making an offer to buy the Globe]…

Barnicle: They [The New York Times Company] should have sold it to us.

Burnett: So, usually if you want to buy it, that means you think you could do a better job.

Barnicle: Well that has nothing to do with Marty Baron. That has to do with that the New York Times Company. To them, the Globe might as well be the St. Petersburg Times, or any other regional paper they own. There is nothing that instills more pride in a product than when it’s locally owned, and no matter what they say in Times Square, this is a step-child. It’s not their principal product. I understand that. If I were Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the thing I would be most interested in growing, would be The New York Times. So as a result, the Globe is treated like a step-child.

Burnett: You said they should have sold it to us…

Barnicle: Just economically.

Burnett: How serious was it?

Barnicle: Very serious. There was an offer on the table. A pretty good one too.

Burnett: It’s a big number, for most people, but it’s not the crazy number you might think it would be.

Barnicle: Well it wasn’t then. It was a different economy then. It was a different world then. They couldn’t get one third of what that offer was today.

Burnett: Of what you wanted for it. How much was it?

Barnicle: I think it was around $600 million.

Burnett: Where was that… did you have bankers lined up?

Barnicle: You’d have to talk to Welch and Connors about that, because as I said initially, finance is not my strong suit. I exist on an allowance. But I mean, it was an entirely different world. The economics of that time, five years ago, it was a totally different time. You could get money like that. [snaps his fingers] It was a money party.

Burnett: Whose idea was it originally?

Barnicle: Jack Connors. Jack Connors wanted to buy it. He wanted to have a locally owned newspaper. He wanted to try to restore the impact and influence that a locally owned newspaper once had in this market. I got him together with Jack Welch, and the two of them had a pretty good financial plan put together. And after a few months, the Times Company decided to turn them down. You can’t tell me they wouldn’t love to have the offer on the table today. Think of it this way: In 1993, the New York Times Company purchased the Globe for $1.1 billion. Today the market cap of the New York Times Company is just about a billion. So the market cap, the value of their company, is less than what they paid for the Globe.

Burnett: I knew those numbers, but hadn’t thought of it that way.

Barnicle: Would have been good for them. Would have been good for the city. Would have been good for the paper.

Burnett: What kind of role did you imagine having?

Barnicle: No managing role, I can tell you that. One thing I’m not is a manager.

Burnett: Did you guys talk about it? Was that part of the process for you?

Barnicle: No. It never got to the stage, “You do this, and we’ll do that.” No.

Burnett: You think about that now and it’s a little bit of an albatross. They need to cut costs, but they can’t sell anything. Can’t get the money.

Barnicle: Who would want to buy it today? Who would want to invest in the newspaper business today? Right after you invest in Chrysler?

Burnett: It would have to be someone with a lot of local pride, someone with a real interest in the city…

Barnicle: That’s what it would have to be.


Burnett: The question that’s relevant here I guess is how you feel about it. Is it the Times Company coming in and being corporate raiders of a kind? The Taylor family [the Globe's founding owners] being greedy at the time, not anticipating where this would go? How it’s been diminished, now it’s a satellite.

Barnicle: I never sat around the table with the Taylor family and the [then co-owning] Jordan Trust, so I don’t know what pressures were brought to bear upon [former publisher] Bill Taylor to sell that paper. I understand it was pretty complex, with certain members of the family wanting to get out of the newspaper business. I think the Timesbought the paper with the best of intentions, obviously. They’re a great newspaper company. Think about it, it was 1993, we might as well be talking about.

Burnett: It certainly feels that way: different era, different era. Do you have a relationship with the family at all?

Barnicle: With the Taylors? Yeah. I used to see [former publisher] Ben Taylor. I haven’t seen him in several months. Bill Taylor I never see.

Burnett: Is it possible today for someone to have the influence, the readership and the audience that you once had?

Barnicle: I don’t think so. I think, in a 10-year span, when you think about the power and the reach of the Internet, basically it didn’t exist 10 years ago. When you think about the influence of the cable news channels: it was CNN, and Fox had just started, MSNBC had just started. They basically were not relevant in terms of news gathering, news dispensing, news devouring, ten years ago. BlackBerrys basically weren’t around. Cell phone news was in its very early stages. If you had 15 channels on your cable, you were thrilled.

Burnett: I guess I’m wondering, for columnists, someone to sort it all out for you, someone to bring a singular voice, that’s a different thing. Seems to me. at least, none of those things compete exactly with what a columnist can do.

Barnicle: Well yeah, but you have to break through all of that clutter, and there’s a whole lot more clutter now then there was then. A whole lot more clutter. Just look at the numbers. The Sunday paper was doing around 800,000. What does it do today? 500,000 maybe? The daily paper was doing 500,000 then, what does it do today, 300,000? Just the numbers alone would tell you that it’s going to be tougher today to do it. I still think the biggest obstacle to that is all of the other things that are out there competing for people’s attention. It was far easier to get people’s attention for something you wrote or something that happened years ago, than it is today.


Burnett: Kevin Cullen….

Barnicle: I helped him get his gig at the paper. He was at UMass. Curtis Wilkie and I were out there talking. Cullen was there. It was Ralph Whitehead’s class. Kevin had graduated, and he basically stood up and asked us, “How come [former editor] Tom Winship won’t hire Irish-Catholic kids that didn’t to go Harvard?” And we sort of said, “Fuck you. He does.” But we did mention it to Winship, Kevin came in, had a couple of interviews, and they hired him.

Burnett: Have you talked to him since he got the column? Has he come to you for advice?

Barnicle: I’m not in the advice business. I am not in the mentoring business. But I talk to him a lot.

Burnett: The thing with him.. it seemed at least, it’s too easy, admittedly, I always have reservations about journalists passing judgment, but we do. But he had a voice and has almost had to grow comfortable with this media and platform that he now has, as well as the power that comes along with it.

Barnicle: Well, that’s the way it is with anything. You could sign for $10 million a year to play over at the ballpark, and every day you go over there and say, “Jesus, I better go 2 for 3 today.”

The thing with media criticism is that if someone is criticizing you, who has never met you, has never shaken your hand, never looked you in the eye, never looked you in the eye, never introduced themselves in person, and they are going to spend a good portion of their life critiquing what your write, or what you do, in the larger sense of the meaning “do,” you should pay no attention to them. What would they ever be able to tell you about yourself and your work if they don’t know you, if they’ve never met you? There’s criticism, there’s book reviews, and there’s movie reviews. But the intensely personal outlook that a lot of these critics bring to the day, whether it’s Kevin Cullen, or whether me, or whether it’s anyone…

Burnett: And you’ve been on the other end of that.

Barnicle: I never gave a shit about that stuff. You know why? I never read it. Call me thickheaded or whatever, but I always came to it with exactly that point of view. How could they, anyone, sit there and say, “Oh, he did this because of this,” when I never met them? Never spoke to them. Was never in the same room with them. Call me up and ask me. So, I think Kevin probably feels a little similarly.


Burnett: Did you hold yourself to the same standards when you were critiquing the work of a public figure?

Barnicle: No. There were very many times, depending on the time of the day, when I would just bang a cheap shot at quarter of five. Boom. Many, many times.

Burnett: Regret any of those?

Barnicle: Oh, God. I can’t think of any one when it comes to elected officials. I can remember feeling little badly, this is years ago, writing something about Ken Harrelson, who was doing the commentary on Red Sox games [on Channel 38], and I wrote something particularly snarky about him. And you know, back to what I was just saying, I bumped into him at the ballpark a couple of days later, and he was pissed and said, “Why don’t you call me? Why don’t you ask me why I do this stuff, how I made that mistake? Jesus.” And he was right, and I am sure there other people who got lit up briefly by me or others who think the same thing.

Burnett: Is that as big a part of what you do now?

Barnicle: I might be delusional; I don’t think it was a big part of anything I ever did. I don’t think I was in it to light a lot of people up on a daily basis. I choose to think, and I’ve never done this, but if you go back and look at the body of work, a lot of it was about ordinary people you could go find today.

Burnett: I wasn’t suggesting it was the dominant theme. I was more getting at how you involved as a writer, with time, and how if you were doing it three times a week, or seven, How, if at all, it would it be different today?

Barnicle: It would be different today. Because of my age and what you accumulate during your life, your experiences, things you’ve witnessed, things that have happened to you, things that have happened to other people, I think today it would be a more personal column. I very rarely used the words “I” or “should.” I think I would inject myself more into the piece today than I ever did then.

Burnett: That’s something some of us have noticed in your TV commentary. A tonal shift that put you more in the—I don’t know how you feel about the term “elder statesman.” Is there a little bit of that in what you’re providing?

Barnicle: I think, as with some people, I’m probably more reflective today than what I used to be. I’m not as quick to jump the gun as I used to be. Hopefully because I’m older and I’ve had a few more experiences. I’ll throw that into the hopper and bring it to the table, hopefully, I don’t know whether that’s the case or not. I am more reflective than I used to be. I am certainly more aware of the shortcomings that everyone has.

Burnett: Aware and more forgiving?

Barnicle: Much more forgiving. Much more forgiving. I’m a Catholic. We’re in the forgiveness business. So, I think that’s probably been heightened over the past 10 or 15 years. Doesn’t make you anymore insightful. But it might give you the appearance of being more thoughtful.


Burnett: Wondering if there’s another word you might throw in there, more humble?

Barnicle: Well that’s an interesting adjective. Humble, humility. I think if you talk to people who know me, and who’ve known me all my life, I would like to think they would say I’ve always been humble. I’ve got a lot to be humble about. I’ve got a lot to be grateful about. But there’s this persona you can acquire by doing nothing, other than having people who dont know you, write about you or talk about you. I guess you could be given a coat of boastfulness, or seem a tough guy.

Burnett: With the Herald, it seems it didn’t play out exactly as promoted on their side?

Barnicle: That was a case of me having to many other things to do. If I didn’t have all the other stuff to do, that I still have, it probably would have been better for the Herald. I just couldn’t do it. I could do it. I could mail it in. But I didn’t want to do that. They were paying me an awful lot of money, and they don’t have an awful lot of money. I’m having dinner with [publisher] Pat Purcell tonight actually. It seemed to me after a while, it wasn’t a very good fit. Largely because of me, not them.

Burnett: In making the choice that you made then, you had a lot of other things going on, and chose to stay with those, rather than drop those. Why did you go that way?

Barnicle: Because I knew most of the people I was working with at NBC, and I’m like a pack animal. I am comfortable with the familiar. I didn’t want to give up that comfort. I didn’t want to drop the things I was doing, and start doing things with a whole new group of people—many of whom I did not know. I didn’t want to end up screwing my two employers, the Herald and NBC, so I said, “See you later.” And I still enjoy the option of writing when I want to write. The main reason I went the other way is because I knew everybody, in Washington and New York.

Burnett: I guess the reason for my own fascination—the perception was that you were back as a Boston columnist. It would be such a priority, and pack animal or not…

Barnicle: The business is not what it used to be, for all the reasons we discussed previously. It just isn’t. So 15 years ago, I probably would have invested much more energy into it than I did, but it’s the change in the business was such that, we talked just a few minutes ago about impact, influence. You would want to feel you have a little impact, and if that’s not there, then, you know, Why am I doing this?

Burnett: You’re not a romantic about, you know, for print’s sake, which I might have walked in here thinking you might have been for some reason.

Barnicle: No. Maybe once was, but not anymore.

Burnett: The WBUR thing. [There were rumors] you might have some kind of recurring role there. What was that all about?

Barnicle: I have no idea.

Burnett: Serious job talks?

Barnicle: No. Apparently, apparently, there are huge numbers of people in the Boston media establishment who are so insecure in their own positions that they fear me coming in to see Paul La Camera for lunch, which I guess is sort of flattering, in a sense. But other than that…It is what it is.


Burnett: And it is a curious thing. None of the issues you get locally translates with these folks that you know on the national level or in New York or outside of 128. There’s a gulf there, or a disparity.

Barnicle: We live in perhaps the most parochial area of the United States. And clearly off the reaction of the WBUR thing, there obviously must be more than several people in the local media who think Lake Persimmon is the Pacific Ocean, that this is the entire media world here. And apparently some of them feel very threatened by anyone coming in the door. Not just me, but especially me. I have no explanation for that. I don’t know them. No one ever called me, from WBUR or anywhere else and said, “What are you doing? How can you think of coming over here? We’re better than you.” I never heard that. I never spoke to Paul La Camera about “I’ll do this three days a week, and you’ll pay me this, and I’ll do that.”

Burnett: How does all of that hit you on a personal level?

Barnicle: It doesn’t. I get amused by it when it happens. But I am extraordinarily lucky. I live a marvelously ordinary life. Most of the people I see over the course of the week are people I’ve known for years. We have seven children. We’re invested in all of our kids. They keep us very busy, and they keep us very happy. I have a wonderful marriage. So, if someone is going to get bent out of shape at WBUR because I show up there one day, I don’t really give a shit, and I don’t really think about it. I am sure maybe some of them, and not necessarily just at that particular place, and there are an awful lot of really small people in this life of ours. We all meet them, but I have no time for them.

Burnett: I was going to ask if you have any thoughts about semi-retiring?

Barnicle: When you retire, you’re dead.

Burnett: What’s something else that would surprise people about you?

Barnicle: I don’t know. I’m not cute or whatever. Maybe how ordinary my life is. Maybe that.

Burnett: You talked about your kids, your work. What’s it filled with, other than family?

Barnicle: Baseball. I have 10 season tickets. People were buying beachfront property. I was buying season tickets.

Burnett: How many games do you get to?

Barnicle: About 60. I usually arrange the work schedule around the baseball schedule. My work schedule is altered drastically from April through early October.

Burnett: How do you feel about the team? Any one player that fascinates you?

Barnicle: What do they need? They need a bat. They need a stick.

Burnett: I was surprised you agreed to this. Should I have been?

Barnicle: No. Why were you surprised that I agreed to do this interview?

Burnett: Because of the magazine’s history.

Barnicle: It gets to what we were talking earlier, and this is the truth, on my children. On my children… I guess on the average of 10 out of 12 issues a year, for a period of several years, I understand, you’d have one thing or another on the magazine, touching me up. On what? I don’t know. No insult intended, I never read it, never looked at it, and on my children, in the course of how many years it went on, I never had, I don’t think, more than three people mention it to me. And that’s no reflection on your magazine or your ability as an editor, and you probably weren’t even there then. So on my children, that’s an honest answer.

Burnett: Do you still smoke cigars?

Barnicle: I do. Cubans. Cohiba Robustos.

Burnett: Your doctor cannot like that.

Barnicle: I smoke maybe two or three a month ’cause they’re so expensive.

USA TODAY: TIM RUSSERT GETS A FINAL TOAST FROM WASHINGTON

USA TODAY

Russert gets a final toast from Washington ; Politicians, journalists remember a ‘patriot’

Craig Wilson, 19 June 2008

WASHINGTON — Tim Russert would have loved it. Lots of stories, lots of politicians, lots of laughs. There was even a nun for good measure.

The host of NBC’s Meet the Press, 58, who died of a heart attack Friday, was praised, ribbed and mourned at a memorial service at the Kennedy Center Wednesday afternoon after a private funeral in Georgetown.

Washington’s elite turned out, including former president Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and enough other senators to field a baseball team, including John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Chuck Schumer; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor under Clinton, Madeleine Albright; and enough journalists to make the politicians nervous.

Tom Brokaw set the tone. He hoisted a Rolling Rock to his longtime friend and said the afternoon was going to be done “Irish style. … Some tears, some laughs and the occasional truth.” He then went on to say Russert had a “strong sense of right and wrong. He came here to be a patriot.”

Brokaw was followed by nine other speakers who, over 11/2 hours, agreed that Russert loved his life, loved his job and loved his family, but not in that order. “There was nothing as important to him as being your father,” Brokaw said to Russert’s son, Luke, 22, who was the final speaker and received a standing ovation.

Luke told the crowd that his father embodied optimism and believed that with “faith, friends and a little folly, anyone can withstand anything.”

Old friend and fellow journalist Al Hunt said Russert, at a time when the news industry struggles to find its way, went the old- fashioned route through “preparation, integrity … and chalkboards.”

Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor for whom Russert worked before entering journalism, said Russert believed politics “could be a saintly profession.”

“It’s not enough to think of him as a great journalist,” Cuomo said. “How else could you explain this outpouring of love?”

Another friend and journalist, Mike Barnicle, said Russert treated everyone “as if they all grew up in the same parish.” California first lady Maria Shriver echoed the thought, talking of the “Russert radar. … He always knew who needed help.”

Sister Lucille Socciarelli, Russert’s seventh-grade teacher who started his journalism career when she named him editor of the school paper, backed that up. She said Russert, when choosing teams in school, “always picked the kid he thought might not be chosen.”

Even Bruce Springsteen, whom Russert adored, showed up via video from Europe to offer a Thunder Road solo. One could almost hear Russert reciting his favorite phrase from above: “Go get ‘em!”

MIKE BARNICLE IN THE BOSTON GLOBE: On Tim Russert, “he had a joy in him &#...

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/06/14/tim_russert_tenacious_journalist_dead_at_58/

The Boston Globe, Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert, tenacious journalist, dead at 58

Tim Russert, a powerhouse of broadcast journalism who made interviewing both an art form and a contact sport on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” died yesterday of a heart attack at age 58 after collapsing at the network’s Washington bureau.

Former Globe columnist Mike Barnicle – a longtime friend of Russert’s whose 15-year-old son, Tim, is named after the newsman – happened to be in the NBC bureau yesterday because he had been asked to guest-host MSBNC’s “Hardball.” He stopped in for a visit with Russert, after which he went to another office to prepare for “Hardball.” Suddenly an intern rushed in with the news that Russert had collapsed and was being taken to the hospital.

“Tim was uniquely without a mean bone in his body,” Barnicle said last night. “He had a joy about him that was nearly unmatched. At the end of the day or the end of the week, there was a part of him that would pinch himself: ‘Can you believe I’m allowed to do this show?’ “

MIKE BARNICLE IN THE BOSTON HERALD: On Tim Russert, “In a mean-spirited professi...

http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1100723

Boston Herald, Saturday, June 14, 2008

Barnicle had just left Tim Russert in D.C. office

Boston newsman Mike Barnicle was at NBC’s Washington news bureau yesterday and was joking around with close friend Tim Russert 15 minutes before the “Meet the Press” host collapsed.

Barnicle, an occasional columnist for the Boston Herald, had made the trip to Washington, D.C., to substitute host for Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” last night.

When Barnicle got to the bureau, he went down to see Russert, who was godfather to Barnicle’s 15-year-old son – and Russert’s namesake – Timothy.

The pair fooled around for a few minutes before Barnicle headed upstairs and left Russert to record some tracks for Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”

About 15 minutes later, an intern came running into the “Hardball” office and said Russert had just collapsed downstairs. He’d been taken to the hospital.

Barnicle got the intern to give him a ride about a mile away to Sibley Memorial Hospital. “I got down there to the emergency room and they had just pronounced him,” Barnicle said.

Barnicle had known the 58-year-old Russert for about three decades. A few weeks ago, they celebrated Russert’s son Luke’s graduation from Boston College with dinner in the North End.

“He was not a mean person,” Barnicle said. “In a mean-spirited profession, he was not a mean person.

“And he came to the job and to his life and to his family and his faith each day with just pure joy,” Barnicle said.

Russert’s doctor said the newsman was aware he had asysmptomatic coronary disease and had taken steps including medication and exercise to control it.

MIKE BARNICLE IN THE BOSTON GLOBE

A regal funeral closer to home

Mike Barnicle, Globe Staff

7 September 1997

The Boston Globe

Long before yesterday’s funeral began, a huge crowd assembled inside the magnificent church where everyone gathered in a crush of sadness over the death of a sparkling young mother who touched many lives before she was killed in a horrific car crash a week ago, across the ocean, far from home. Mourners came in such numbers that they spilled out the doors of St. Theresa’s Church, onto the sidewalk, and across Centre Street in West Roxbury as police on motorcycles and horseback led two flower-cars and three hearses to the front of a beautiful church filled now with tears and memory.

Yesterday, the wonderful world of Mary Beatty Devane was on display to bury her along with two of her daughters — Elaine, 9, and Christine, 8 — who also lost their lives on a wet road east of Galway City as they headed to Shannon Airport at the conclusion of their vacation. Her husband, Martin, their daughter Brenda, 5, and their son Michael, 2, survived the accident and, after the hearses halted at the curb, Martin Devane emerged from a car, his entire being bent, injured, and slowed by the enormous burden of his tragic loss.

The Devanes represent one of the many anonymous daily miracles of this city’s life. They lived around the corner from where Mary grew up in a house headed by her father, Joe Beatty, the president of Local 223, Laborers Union, who arrived in Boston decades back from the same Irish village, Rusheenamanagh, where Mary’s husband, Martin, was born.

He is a construction worker. She was a nurse. They were married 11 years and their life together cast a contagious glow across their church and their community.

Now, on a splendid summer Saturday, when the world paused for a princess, up the street they came to cry for Mary Theresa Beatty and her children. There were nuns and priests, cops and carpenters, plumbers, teachers, firefighters, and nurses side-by-side with farmers who flew in from rocky fields an ocean away. A global village of friends inside a single city church.

Bagpipes played while 16 pallbearers gently removed three caskets from the steel womb of the hearses. The weeping crowd formed a long corridor of hushed grief as the caskets were carried up the steps and down the aisle toward 17 priests who waited to apply the balm of prayer to the wounded mourners.

Mary Devane worked weekend nights in the emergency room at Faulkner Hospital. When she was not there, she was either caring for her own family or tending to the dying as a hospice nurse.

During her 31 years on earth, she was many things: wife, mother, daughter, sister, nurse, neighbor, healer, helper, compassionate companion to the suffering, angel of mercy for the ill, smiling friend to an entire community that stood yesterday in collective silence in a church cluttered with broken hearts.

As the pallbearers transported their precious cargo, 22 boys and girls from St. Theresa’s Children’s Choir rose alongside the parish choir to sing “Lord of All Hopefulness.” No cameras or celebrities were present — simply the pastor, the Rev. William Helmick, along with all the others there to celebrate a life lived well and taken too soon.

The 70-year-old church swayed with psalm, hymn, and gospel; with the “Ave Maria”; with voices of youngsters struggling to sing for their classmates Christine and Elaine, who had been scheduled to start third and fourth grade at St. Theresa’s grammar school, 50 yards away.

Larry Reynolds stood in the choir loft, high above the congregation. With strong, rough carpenter’s hands, he gently held a fiddle and began to play “The Culan,” a 400-year-old Gaelic song. As communion commenced below, each of his notes echoed a tear throughout the immense stone building.

Reynolds himself is from the County Galway village of Ahascragh. He has known both families, the Beattys and the Devanes, for 30 years, and after he finished, Mary Twohig, a nursing school classmate of Mary Devane, walked slowly to the podium to recite “A Nurse‘s Prayer” and share an elegant eulogy with all those devastated by these three deaths.

Then, the Mass ended. Incense caressed the air as the pallbearers retreated through the church and out to those hearses idling at the curb before the big crowd drove off in thick traffic for the sad trip to St. Joseph’s Cemetery, where Mary Beatty Devane and her two precious little girls were set to final rest, three members of a truly royal family.

MIKE BARNICLE

MIKE BARNICLE IN THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kempton’s World

BOSTON GLOBE

May 8, 1997

In the days before curiosity died — killed by TV and a dwindling attention span — imagination and a wider world arrived in two basic forms and cost about five cents. Daily newspapers and voices over any radio walked readers and listeners through murders, wars, ballparks, different cities and foreign countries as well as intricate universes woven by electronic neighbors like Sam Spade, The Shadow, and Dick Tracy.

It was a world of bulletins and breakfast-table talk where the dated phrase “Stop the presses” actually meant something significant had just occurred. It is hard now to believe but life was so much simpler then that it could take hours, perhaps a day, to learn that MacArthur got fired, Bobby Thompson homered, Sam Sheppard was guilty, or Ike was hospitalized with a heart attack. CNN was something out of science fiction Impressions — visual as well as verbal — meant more and lasted longer. Travel was defined as leaving the block and few could measure events beyond the borders of small, proud lives bounded by the bus stop and the bedroom, so the captains of any voyage became people like Walter Winchell, Harry Wismer, Curt Gowdy, John Cameron Swayze, Bob Considine, Westbrook Pegler, Bill Cunningham, Red Smith, Jimmy Cannon, and Murray Kempton.

Kempton died the other day in New York. He was 79 and had been writing for newspapers for 60 years. Most of you probably never read a line he wrote because the bulk of his work was largely restricted to five boroughs of the big town with all the bright lights. And to those familiar with the man’s constant efforts, I bet there was a part, perhaps a paragraph or two, of any Kempton piece that felt like homework because it was heavy and made you pause and go, “Huh?”

That’s because Kempton was different: He was thoughtful. In a business where so many occupy the pages and airwaves of our life simply to beat the same drum loudly, over and over, Murray Kempton was a symphony all by himself. Who else could describe Walter Reuther, the late head of the United Auto Workers, as a guy “capable of reminiscing about the future?”

While the media have become magnets for boasters and shameless self-promoters, Murray Kempton managed to present his audience a daily gift of modesty married to insight. In the introduction to a collection of his own essays on the 1930s, he wrote: “I have my own stake in the thirties. I was in high school when Roosevelt was inaugurated; I belonged for a little while to the Young Communist League . . .

“The thirties were a part of my life like any other; I am aware that there are things in it for which I must apologize; I am also aware that in the whole of my life there will be many things for which I must apologize, under what have to be compulsions stronger than a Congressional subpoena.”

The final time I saw him, he was standing on a street corner in the sultry dusk of a July evening last year near the federal building in lower Manhattan. A greeting quickly became a conversation that encompassed topics ranging from his respect for the honesty of Jim Kallstrom, an assistant director of the FBI, to his admiration of Bob Dole’s integrity, his disgust at Bill Clinton’s charming duplicity, and his fondness for those in his newspaper life who remained attentive and eager for each day’s developments as a chance to educate, entertain or inform a reader, rather than assassinate a subject.

The last time I spoke with him, in January, he was thrilled that Pete Hamill had taken over the New York Daily News. Hamill was an unusual pick as editor, chosen at a period when more and more media conglomerates are managed by accountants thrilled to hire those who seem incapable of curiosity and write with a trowel, their sentences totally interchangeable with the copy of a Ralph Lauren ad.

Murray Kempton was a warm and generous soul. He represented honor in an industry quaking beneath the weight of whores, in it only for ego, riches, prizes, or the kill. He would have been pleased by Hamill’s latest novel, “Snow in August,” because the book captures the magic of a childhood Kempton represented each time he tapped out a column: Simply a wonderful story and well told.

An argument can be made today that there is no more “news” in the shattering sense of decades past; there is only a constant coverage of process, procedures, and trends. And with Murray Kempton’s death, you sure can make a solid argument that there is far less elegance and genteel wisdom on our printed pages because a great man is gone.