The rumpus over Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen’s Boston Marathon bombings coverage has gone trans-Atlantic, as this Irish Times piece illustrates.
‘Boston Globe’ columnist Kevin Cullen put on administrative leave
Journalist’s coverage of Boston Marathon bombings to be examined after complaint
Well-known columnist Kevin Cullen has been put on administrative leave by the Boston Globe, the newspaper has confirmed.
Cullen, an occasional contributor to The Irish Times and a regular contributor on Irish radio, has been put on paid leave while an examination of his coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings is conducted.
Right. Except the paper fails to mention that Cullen’s 2013 Irish Times piece about the Marathon bombings directly calls into question his credibility.
The firefighters of Engine Seven were just around the corner when the first bomb went off. They raced to the scene and found an eerie silence, and the dead and the wounded scattered. Some had their clothes blown off. Some had their legs blown off.
Seán saw one of his friends from Dorchester, Bill Richard, standing there in shock. Bill and his wife, Denise, had brought their three children, nine-year-old Henry, eight-year-old Martin and six-year-old Jane, to watch the runners cross the finishing line across from Boston Public Library. It is a great family tradition, something done by thousands of families. They were standing in front of what police believe was a backpack containing a pressure cooker loaded with ball bearings and nails when it exploded.
“I can’t find Denise!” Bill cried.
Seán kneeled down over Martin, a beautiful boy who was always kind to Seán’s daughter, his third-grade classmate at the local charter school.
“When I looked at young Marty,” Séan told me, “I knew he was gone.”
Compare that to what Cullen told the BBC the day after the bombings, via WEEI’s Kirk Minihane.
In yet another interview with the BBC, Cullen tells us about the firefighter who rescued Jane Richard:
“I just got off the phone, not long ago, with a young firefighter I’m very concerned about. He’s a young kid, he’s a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and he told me what he saw today was worse than anything he saw in a warzone. He carried a young girl who had a brother killed at the scene, I actually know the father, he just ran the race today … and the daughter, the girl, my friend Sean the firefighter picked her up and he carried her to an ambulance and he said when he put her down he realized her leg was missing. And he went back to the scene and he told me he crawled on his legs and his hand and his knees trying to find her leg and he couldn’t find it.”
The “Sean” Cullen is referring to is Sean O’Brien, a veteran Dorchester firefighter who was at the scene and did talk to Cullen the day after the bombing. O’Brien, though, said he never told Cullen he carried Jane Richard anywhere. That was Matt Patterson, a Lynn firefighter who was off duty that day. I spoke to Patterson last Thursday and he wanted no credit or praise for what he did. It was his job. And I could tell he had no desire, really, to go over the events of that day again. He told me he had never heard of Cullen until last week and had never talked to him. What’s also odd is that it became clear, pretty quickly, that Patterson was the man who had carried Jane Richard. NECN had a story. WBZ. NY Daily News. The city of Lynn honored him in May of 2013. How did Cullen not correct this?
The next question is, will the Irish Times correct it?
Beyond that, there are questions like this one from @DanKelley66 about other Cullen pieces in the Times.
The article in question.
Gerry Adams: The man behind the mask
US reporter Kevin Cullen recalls a SF leader who tightly controlled his public persona
I like to say I knew Gerry Adams before he was infamous.
I started reporting from Northern Ireland in the second half of the 1980s, when most American journalists and their editors had grown bored of the killing and the mayhem and the madness.
Somehow, at a fairly young age, when I was the main crime reporter for the Boston Globe, I convinced my editors that we were giving short shrift to the conflict in Northern Ireland, a tragic story, a human rights story, an international story that was, in fact, a local story for our readership, more than half of which claimed Irish ancestry.
Beyond that, I persuaded them that the fact that my grandparents were from Connemara, that I had spent a fitful year at Trinity College, and that I had managed to get myself lifted by British soldiers when I hitchhiked up to Belfast in 1979 and came across a patrol of nervous squaddies who believed my Boston accent was a put-on, somehow qualified me to report on the murderous, generational problem that the Irish in their quaint propensity for understatement called the Troubles.
It’s a major takeout with Cullen himself, as per usual, at the center of it.
So the headscratching staff is emailing this question to the Irish Times: Are you now wondering if anyone can verify any of that?
We will, as always, keep you splendid readers posted.
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