Times of London Whacks Irish Times for Kevin Cullen Coddling

As the hardworking staff has repeatedly noted, the Irish Times has been derelict in its due diligence about Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen’s reporting for that paper about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

And now the Times of London is agreeing with us.

Edited Boston bomb tale still online

The Irish Times retains report from columnist on the 2013 marathon blast despite review challenging its accuracy

The Irish Times is keeping an article by Kevin Cullen about the Boston marathon bombing on its website, even though a Boston Globe review has found some of the columnist’s reporting of the event was a “complete fabrication”.

Cullen, an Irish-American journalist who has been a regular contributor to Irish print and broadcast media, has been suspended from his Boston Globe job for three months after it reviewed his coverage of the 2013 terrorist attack.

The review concluded that Cullen had fabricated parts of stories about firemen that he told in broadcast interviews in America, the UK and Ireland. Of “particular concern” was an interview Cullen gave Newstalk in which he claimed a fireman called Sean had returned to the site of the bombing to…

Given the Times of London’s hard paywall (which when first initiated vaporized 95% of the paper’s web traffic), it would have cost us £1 to read further. So the hardscrimping staff stopped there.

But you get the picture. The (pay)walls have closed in just a bit further on Kevin Cullen.

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Irish Times Sentences Kevin Cullen to . . . One Correction

Back in April when the whole Kevin Cullen rumpus began, the headscratching staff wondered if the Irish Times would scrutinize its Cullen column that ran in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, a piece that featured unverified details different from the unverified details in Cullen’s Boston Globe column at the time.

We consequently sent this email to both the Times editor and the paper’s news desk. (We also sent it to  the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman.)

Dear Sir or Madam,

[We just posted this to Campaign Outsider], documenting discrepancies among Kevin Cullen’s multiple versions of the Boston Marathon bombings, from the Boston Globe to the BBC to The Irish Times.

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 . . .

To our utter amazement, we never heard back from any of them.

But yesterday we did come across this tweet from the sharp-eyed @gmolloy.

So we hied ourselves back to Cullen’s 2013 Irish Times piece and found this note attached to the bottom of it.

* A sentence (“When I looked at young Marty,” Seán told me, “I knew he was gone.”) was removed from this article on June 18th 2018 on foot of the findings of a review commissioned by the Boston Globe into the journalist Kevin Cullen’s reporting on the Boston marathon bombing. The review found that a firefighter’s account of the identification of the body of a young boy, Martin Richard, as originally reported, was disputed by the firefighter, who said he knew the boy as Martin and would not have referred to him as “Marty”.

O’Brien also said in that external Globe review that “he didn’t identify the boy’s body at that time,” which raises other questions but never mind.

At this point it will be interesting to see if other pieces Cullen wrote for the Times (such as this one) receive further scrutiny at the paper.

If so, let’s hope that effort turns out better than the porous internal review the Globe just submitted. Pompoms sold separately.

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Our Media Culpa to WSJ Columnist Jason Gay Re: Rafael Nadal

A week or so ago, the hardworking staff had some stern words for the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay over his latest cover story for WSJ. Magazine.

The hardworking staff yields to no man in our respect and admiration for Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay, but his cover story in today’s WSJ. Magazine is a flatout bad joke.

First, there’s the cover itself.

Reclaims his throne?

Not to get technical about it, but a certain Rafael Nadal is currently No. 1 in the ATP World Tour rankings.

Then there’s the hed/subhed of the piece.

Enjoying tennis too much to stop just now?


Roger Dodger is currently ducking the French Open after sitting out the entire clay court season . . .

In Monday’s Journal, however, Gay – in his usual smart, stylish manner – absolutely gave Rafa his due.

Nadal in Paris Is Ridiculous

Greetings from Paris, where I’ve been reading with amusement the fretting over the Golden State Warriors, who have provoked an existential crisis in basketball with an “overly dominant” team which has won three out of the last four NBA titles.

Three out of four titles. That’s adorable. The magic horsey won three big horsey races in a row? Way to go, horsey!!!.

Because Rafael Nadal won his 11th French Open Sunday.

I know, I know: different sport, different circumstances, shorter tournament, funky surface, no Kevin Durant. And he didn’t have to win the Preakness.

But still: if we’re going to talk about dominance in modern sports, the conversation must include Nadal, who has turned winning this majestic clay-court tournament into less of an accomplishment than an annual rite.

Many thanks to Mr. Gay for that tribute, which has restored him to the good graces he’s so long enjoyed in this space.

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Pepsi Puts Its Commercial and a Movie Into the Same Can

Kyrie Irving is Pepsi’s choice of a new generation of ads.

And New York Times culture reporter Sopan Deb has been on the Boston Celtics star like Brown on Williamson for weeks now.

Start with this piece last month.

‘Uncle Drew’: Branding Vehicle or Feature Film? Yes

At first glance, the movie looks like another inoffensive summer road-trip comedy. In the trailer, there are stars like Nick Kroll and Tiffany Haddish ping-ponging punch lines with Lil Rel Howery. There’s a sense of escapism along with a healthy dose of slapstick.

“Uncle Drew” may be all of that. It is also the continuation of a corporate marketing campaign for a soda company.

An unusual integration of branded content and film, the movie is built around the N.B.A. star Kyrie Irving and is based entirely on a series of Pepsi commercials that went viral beginning in 2012. A heavily made-up Mr. Irving plays Uncle Drew, a septuagenarian driven to show up younger basketball players on the playground. He sets out to reunite with his teammates from decades ago for one more run at the Rucker Park tournament in Harlem.

The question Deb asks is this: Does anyone give a damn that Irving’s Pepsi-funded mashup is an ad in sheep’s clothing?

“Moviegoers might not realize or care that they are watching what is essentially a Pepsi commercial when they turn out for the June 29 release,” Deb writes. “Academics, meanwhile, believe ‘Uncle Drew’ is the first feature film of its kind, taking product placement one step further in a new avenue for branding and signaling the film industry’s willingness to — ahem — play ball.”

Product placement in cinema goes all the way back to Thomas Edison. According to the website Brands&Films, “[Edison] made the product placement in films into a very lucrative business. He created deals with advertisers to reduce ‘out-of-pocket production expenses while providing promotional services for customers of his industrial businesses’” [italics theirs].

Consider Edison’s deal with the Lackawanna Railroad for his 1903 film, The Great Train Robbery. In exchange for access to the railway and its trains, Edison made the heroine of the film the same actress – Marion Murray Gorsch – who played Phoebe Snow in Lackawanna’s Road of Anthracite ad campaign.

Then again, we’re guessing Ms. Gorsch never gave an interview like the one Kyrie Irving gave Deb in this Times piece last week . . .

Read the rest at Sneak Adtack.

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Some Serious Editorial Mishegas at the Wall Street Journal


First, there’s Kali Hays’s piece in yesterday’s WWD (tip o’ the pixel to The Missus).

WSJ Reorganization Continues as Editors Reapply for Positions

The Wall Street Journal has been slowing moving forward with its restructuring.

The Wall Street Journal is still reorganizing its newsroom and editors are taking the brunt of it.

Members of The Journal’s deep bench of desk editors have been asked to “reapply” for their positions, WWD has learned, as the News Corp.-owned title continues to lurch forward with plans to be more of a digital-first publication.

Many desk editors at The Journal have been at the paper for several years, according to some online profiles, and having them reapply for their positions, while demeaning, is a way to move people around or to different positions — or move them out.

It’s all part of the Journal’s “WSJ 2020” reorganization plan around digital and mobile, which is not about cost-cutting but rather “efficiency and cohesion” and a “new central editing structure,” according to a WSJ executive.

That exec happens to be editor-in-chief Gerard Baker who, coincidentally or not, happens to be exiting the paper, according to this piece by Lloyd Grove and Maxwell Tani in The Daily Beast.


WSJ Editor-in-Chief Leaves to Host Show on Pro-Trump Fox Business Network

Gerard Baker, often accused of being too chummy with Trump, will leave the Journal to host a show on Fox Business Network, arguably the most pro-Trump cable outlet.

The Wall Street Journal’s controversial editor-in-chief Gerard Baker—often accused of being too chummy with President Trump—is leaving the newspaper to host a show on the Fox Business Network, arguably the most pro-Trump cable-news outlet.

In a Tuesday press release, Newscorp announced that executive editor Matt Murray would replace Baker, who, in addition to his new FBN gig, would become the paper’s editor at large.

So Baker is leaving . . . but he’s not leaving.

Too bad the same can’t be said for the lowly desk editors about to get 30’d.

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WSJ = Worst Sports Judgment Ever in WSJ. Magazine Cover

The hardworking staff yields to no man in our respect and admiration for Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay, but his cover story in today’s WSJ. Magazine is a flatout bad joke.

First, there’s the cover itself.

Reclaims his throne?

Not to get technical about it, but a certain Rafael Nadal is currently No. 1 in the ATP  World Tour rankings.

Then there’s the hed/subhed of the piece.

Enjoying tennis too much to stop just now?


Roger Dodger is currently ducking the French Open after sitting out the entire clay court season, obviously because of this (via Amy Lundy of FiveThirtyEight).

Rafael Nadal is likely more dominant at clay-court tennis than any other athlete is at any one thing. Winning a set, let alone a match, against Nadal on clay can seem almost hopeless. As he nears 32 years old, he’s already won 56 clay-court titles and a record 10 French Open championships — with a chance to add an 11th next week.

Even so, as the Missus notes, you don’t see Rafa sitting out Wimbledon. (In Rogerspeak, of course, it would be Wimpledon.)

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, Gay does mention Federer’s feet of clay.

Federer has trimmed his schedule (this is the second year he’s skipped the clay court season) and remodeled his game, switching to a bigger racket, shortening points, turning his angelic one-handed backhand into a fearsome weapon.

We get it that Federer doesn’t want to spend any time at Stade Roland Garros.

We just don’t get the timing of Jason Gay’s mash note to him.

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Slate’s ‘Hang Up and Listen’ Totally Lacks 20-20 Heinz Sight

The hardworking staff yields to no man in our admiration and respect for Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin, hosts of the excellent Hang Up and Listen podcast. But we feel compelled to take issue with last week’s edition in which they talked with Atlantic writer John Swansburg about the late Tom Wolfe’s 1965 Esquire piece, The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes!

Around 1:08:41 Fatsis says this:

“[Wolfe] also understood how to write an effective piece of sportswriting. This is also the dawn of magazine-ery sportswriting. [George] Plimpton had already written some of his immersive books about playing professional sports, trying to reveal them to the public, but what Wolfe does is create a piece of literature about professional sports the likes of which people hadn’t read . . . “

All due respect, Stefan, they had.

Because the great W.C. Heinz had beaten Wolfe to the punch over a decade earlier.

Exhibit A: From Mark Kram Jr.’s New York Times review of The Top of His Game: The Best Sportswriting of W. C. Heinz.

Heinz was unsurpassed when he was working the offbeat corners of sports. It was in these unexamined shadows that he found his voice. In his classic column “Death of a Race Horse,” he compels us to look beyond the winner’s circle to an all-too-common event in horse racing, the sudden breakdown of a prized thoroughbred. Only 800 words or so, it is rendered with careful observation and unerring dialogue, hallmarks of Heinz’s style that would be so influential to David Halberstam and other practitioners of the New Journalism a generation later.

(You can read the 1949 “Death of a Race Horse” column here.)

Exhibit B: From the introduction to The Top of His Game by its editor Bill Littlefield, who noted that in the 1950s delivery trucks for the New York Sun featured banners saying, “W.C. HEINZ Read His Human Interest Stories On Sports Daily In The Sun Buy It Today.”

The work that appeared in the Sun under the byline “W.C. Heinz” can be categorized as “human interest stories” in the same sense that the work by William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ernest Hemingway can be so categorized.

Like Faulkner, Bill Heinz understood the significance of place . . .

Like O’Connor, he understood that the people at the edges of any endeavor offered, by necessity, original perspectives on a culture into which they would never fit.

Like Vonnegut, he wrapped his darkest observations in humor . . .

Like Hemingway, he never wasted a word.

Check out, for instance, Heinz’s 1960 piece for Sport magazine, The Floyd Patterson His Friends Know.

The strange thing about Floyd Patterson is that he wasn’t cut out to be a fighter. This sounds ridiculous, I guess, for here is a man who brings immense natural skill and complete dedication to his craft. He was the youngest heavyweight champion of all time; he is the only one ever to regain the championship. He must go down in the history of his sport as one who belonged to it as few men have.

If the record were to stop right now, it would show that Floyd has won 36 of 38 fights, 25 by knockouts. The public image of the man who fires the punches is not, however, a true representation of the man I know. What I want to try to do now is present Floyd as he is, the way the record book can never show him, but the way his friends know him.

Bill Heinz profiled athletes from jockey Eddie Arcaro to major league outfielder Pete Reiser (“The Man They Padded The Walls For”) in numerous magazine pieces. But his first love was boxing. From a previous post:

I was fortunate enough to interview Bill Heinz ten years ago in his Dorset, Vermont home. He talked about being a World War II correspondent and his “unpayable” debt to the soldiers fighting and dying all around him. ( “For the writer, implanted weaponless in war,” Heinz once wrote, “his two personal enemies are his guilt and his fear, and after a while it was only our guilt that sent us out against our fear.”

And he talked about his preference for boxing above other sports:

Now I gravitated to boxing because I found the comradeship between fighters in Stoney’s gym and elsewhere, very similar to the comradeship I found among GI’s in battle during the war. They were both experiencing things that were difficult to take.

. . . although I’m a great admirer of football and what it brings, I’m a great admirer of team sports, there’s always somebody else you can lay it off on and you can’t lay it off in a fight.

Memo to Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin:

Remember W.C. Heinz.

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We Have a Winner in Our NYT Money-Making Sweepstakes!

The air has been electric around the Global Worldwide Headquarters ever since we announced our latest Campaign Outsider Sweepstakes (pat. pending).

It was occasioned by this ad in the New York Times touting the paper’s umpteenth foray into revenue-enhancing sidelines.


That’s in addition to Times Journeys, Times Store, Times Wine Club, Times Talks, Times School, Times Crosswords, Times Cooking – everything but Times Tables. (If you want links, go here.)

Thus, the Sweepstakes.

Campaign Outsider Sweepstakes: What will be the next thing the Times tries to monetize? Best guesstimate will receive a dedicated post from the hardsweeping staff, which would, of course, be the dream of a lifetime for any of you splendid readers.

And the winner is . . .

Excellent commenter (and great friend of the hardworking staff) Carol O’Reilly.

Not to mention your board friends!

Congrats, Carol.

P.S. Before any of you jealous readers accuse us of favoritism, let it be known that Carol was the only one decent enough to enter our sweepstakes. So stick that in your smipe and poke it. (Tip o’ the pixel to Laurel & Hardy.)

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New York Times Puts on the Blue – Sorry, Grey – Apron

As the hardworking staff has noted on multiple occasions, the New York Times has for the past several years been casting hither and yon for new sources of revenue.

Call the roll:

• The Times Journeys travel agency has offered adventures from Around the World by Private Jet: Cultures in Transformation (which came with considerable controversy) to  The Canyons of the Southwest, in Deep and in Depth (which did not)

• The Times Store features chotchkes ranging from custom birthday books to NYT coffee mugs. Representative ad:

• Also . . . Times Wine Club, Times Talks, Times School, Times Crosswords, everything but Times Tables.

So it’s no surprise that the Grey Lady has cooked up a new offering – Meal Kits, as presented in this full-page ad.

Given the widespread popularity of the Times Cooking app, this New York Times Cooking Meal Plan looks to be, yes, a recipe for success.

Campaign Outsider Sweepstakes: What will be the next thing the Times tries to monetize?  Best guesstimate will receive a dedicated post from the hardsweeping staff, which would, of course, be the dream of a lifetime for any of you splendid readers.

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Riffs Round Midnight at the Global Worldwide Headquarters (Great ‘Colorado’ Bakeoff Edition)

As you splendid readers might remember, the hardriffing staff has long had a soft spot for The Flying Burrito Brothers. As we once noted, “Back in 1971, the hardsmoking staff glommed on to the Flying Burrito Brothers – one of the endless Byrds spinoffs (we’ll get to Dillard & Clark soon) – and never let go . . . ”

Lately, this number has been dropping in the jukebox of our mind.


At the YouTube link, we encountered these comments.

So we checked out Linda Ronstadt’s version.


Here’s our bakeoff scorecard.

Instrumentals: Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s steel guitar on the Burrito’s version totally blows away Ronstadt’s band.

Vocals: Rick Roberts buries the needle on the Regret-o-Meter. Ronstadt just nudges it.

Final score: We’ve loved Linda Ronstadt ever since her Stone Poneys days. But Roberts wins this ‘Colorado’ bakeoff going away.

Bonus tune:


You’re welcome.

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