Back in April I wrote about Kevin Cullen, the Boston Globe columnist who did a 5-year anniversary piece about the Boston Marathon bombing, where he lied about being at the scene when the bombs went off:
I can smell Patriots Day, 2013. I can hear it. God, can I hear it, whenever multiple fire engines or ambulances are racing to a scene. … Five years later, we feel the grief like a sixth sense.
This in spite of the fact that in his column two days after the fact, he’d talked about where he was, and it was nowhere within miles of the finish line. And to add color, he described scenes of himself having beers with Boston cops, toasting the memory of slain MIT police officer Sean Collier. And to claim he just happened to have a longtime friendship with Collier, who is tragically not able to confirm or deny. And to exaggerate his relationship with Dic Donohue, the officer who nearly died in the Watertown shootout, calling it one of “these little connections, friendships made.” When I had just emceed a fundraiser for the Sean Collier Foundation put on by Dic and his wife Kim, who confirmed short of some Twitter conversations with Cullen, they’re not exactly exchanging Friendship Bracelets. And by talking to them, I did roughly 100 times the research Cullen did.
Subsequent digging by the Kirk and Callahan on my old station WEEI turned up interviews with outlets like the BBC where Cullen described in full detail what he witnessed that day. And virtually every detail was factually deadballs inaccurate. Again, because he was nowhere near there.
Not small details, either. Giant, raging lies like Martin Richards (God rest his soul) hugging his father Bill Richards as he crossed the finish line just before the blast, which would have been tough for him to do since:
1) No one is allowed on the course but the runners. And
2) Bill Richards did not run the Marathon.
So under public pressure, the Globe suspended Cullen with pay and launched an investigation into his claims about his involvment bombings and a slew of other seemingly fabricated bullshit he’s written in the past. And, in striking a blow for the integrity of capital J-journalism in 2018, dumped their findings at 6:30 on a Friday night. With an announcement that they’d not only caught their top columnist completely making crap up to make himself the hero of other people’s stories, but that they are really, really looking forward to bringing him back.
The Boston Globe said Friday that it will suspend columnist Kevin Cullen without pay for three months after an examination of his work found significant problems in a series of radio interviews and some public remarks he made in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. …
[One] story Cullen told involved him bumping into a fire official, Joe Finn, outside the Eire Pub in Dorchester on the night of the bombings.
Cullen told the gathering that Finn handed him his phone and asked him to persuade a firefighter named Sean O’Brien to join them for a drink. After O’Brien declined, Cullen said, Finn told him that “Sean found the kid,” referring to 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the blast.
Fiedler and Carroll wrote: “It is clear from interviews with the firefighters Mr. Cullen has cited that the episode simply did not happen.” …
The report also criticized Cullen for relating another story in a radio interview on April 16 that involved O’Brien searching in vain for the missing leg of a girl, later identified as Jane Richard, Martin’s sister. Carroll and Fiedler said O’Brien disputed the story and called it “crazy.”
The report quoted Cullen as saying, “These were interviews I gave when I’d been up all night. I’d been drinking. And I was really upset.”
So there you have it. A once-major news outlet isn’t going to let a little thing like their guy making up conversations he never had with people who were actually at the scene - stepping through the puddles of blood, recovering other people’s blown off body parts, putting tourniquets on their limbs and rushing them to hospitals – get in the way of his really good stories. Even if he had the unmitigated, borderline evil audacity to claim HE is suffering from “a sort of second hand PTSD.” And to inject himself into the horrors that the Collier, Donohue and Richards families will be struggling with forever, just because it sounded better than admitting “I watched in on TV” like the rest of us. The guy writes a column that makes the 65+ plus demographic that still reads newspapers happy. So let’s not let worry too much about the fact it’s all stuff he just pulls out of his ass when he’s drunk and “upset.”
Not that it matters much in the long run. We are at most five years away from wondering how anyone ever got their information from ink printed on dead trees and left on their front steps. I just want everyone to keep this in mind the next time an outlet like the Globe questions Barstool or wants someone fired for making a dick joke on the radio. And not to make it all about me – I’ll leave Kevin Cullen to do that – but the one time I posted a Sex Scandal Teacher blog on WEEI’s site, the Globe editors put their sports media reporter up to calling the bosses to ask if that’s the kind of thing they approve of, and pressured them to take it down. Although now I get where they’re coming from. Try to entertain people on a funny sports and lifestyle site with satirical putdowns of sexual deviants, and you’re a monster. Interject yourself into someone else’s tragedy in a shameless attempt to garner sympathy, and there’s a job for you at the Boston Globe. And they wonder why their industry is dead.