The FBI’s Most Pundited
WHEN JAMES "WHITEY" BULGER WAS ARRESTED and returned to South Boston, he was greeted by police motorcades, armed Coast Guard boats, and scores of gawking onlookers. As the runaway gangster’s case works its way through the court system, the media circus will only grow more intense. So which pontificators should you be paying attention to, and which should you ignore? Here’s a Bulger commentator tip sheet.
PRO The Herald columnist is a court rat — meaning he’ll slog through the long trials. He works like a beat reporter, and has been a forceful advocate for Bulger’s victims in their long-running battles with the Department
CON A perpetually shrinking news hole at his paper leaves little room for in-depth coverage.
PRO Lehr was part of the Globe Spotlight Team that first reported on the FBI-Bulger alliance in 1988, and later described the bureau office as thoroughly corrupted by Whitey. Those reports led to Black Mass, the authoritative book on the mobster.
CON Lehr’s out of the newspaper game now and teaching at BU, so he won’t be writing regularly. When he does pop up, it’ll probably just be as a talking head.
RATING **** ½
PRO Cullen came up at the Globe covering cops, and stories about wiseguys are the best part of his column at the paper. He once stared down a threat from the FBI before putting his byline on the piece that exposed Bulger as a government informant, so he’s likely a bit suspicious of the government’s role here.
CON When he strays from street stories, his purple prose can seem straight out of a Lifetime drama.
PRO The Herald columnist and radio host turned Bulger-bashing into a lucrative career. He has an encyclopedic command of gangland arcana, but it’s his decades-old ability to weave himself into the Bulger narrative that’s made him a hot interview lately.
CON Howie likes to tweak Whitey for frequenting Bay Village gay bars, a nice reminder of Carr’s penchant for homophobic-sounding rants and, more generally, of what an intolerable boor he is.
Illustration by André Carrilho