Top of Mind: Mike Barnicle
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.
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.