Earlier this week the hardworking staff noted the rumpus around Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen’s shifting coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Central to the issue is Cullen’s dual versions of the role he says Dorchester firefighter Sean O’Brien played in the immediate aftermath of the bombings. First there was this description Cullen gave to the BBC the following day.
“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.”
Several days later, however, Cullen told a different tale in a piece for The Irish Times.
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.”
WEEI’s Kirk Minhane said last week that he had talked to Sean O’Brien and O’Brien denied the first version and wouldn’t comment on the second.
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am a Boston-based media analyst and author of the Campaign Outsider blog.
I just posted this to the site, documenting discrepancies among Kevin Cullen’s multiple versions of the Boston Marathon bombings, from the Boston Globe to the BBC to The Irish Times : https://bit.ly/2r0ezXN
As you reported on Monday, the Globe has put Cullen on administrative leave “while an examination of his coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings is conducted.”
Is a similar examination occurring at The Irish Times?
Thank you for your consideration . . .
We also wrote to the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman.
We haven’t heard back from anyone.
Your conclusions go here.