Joe Curtatone Is Suing Kirk Minihane and Barstool

The Somerville mayor says a fake phone interview with him was against the law.

Kirk Minihane photo via WEEI | Mayor Curtatone at the Micro Museum by KAdam on Flickr/Creative Commons

Kirk Minihane, the former WEEI shock jock and current Barstool Sports contributor, really wanted to get Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone on the phone. After some choice words were exchanged between Curtatone and Barstool founder Dave Portnoy over the Bruins’ controversial decision to distribute Barstool-branded towels at the Stanley Cup finals, he apparently wanted to confront the politician on air.

He claims he reached out to Curtatone for an interview, but the mayor declined. So Minihane got a bright idea for a way to interview him anyway: He would pretend to be Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, ask Curtatone some questions, record the whole thing, and then post it online. Which is exactly what he did. Earlier this month, Minihane shared video of himself chatting up the mayor over the phone and peppering him with questions while doing his best to mimic Cullen’s accent.

And now Curtatone says he’s taking Minihane and Barstool to court. In a Facebook post on Monday, Curtatone announced that he has filed a lawsuit accusing Minihane of violating the state’s wiretapping law, which prohibits recording conversations unless both parties being recorded provide consent.

“[Y]ou can’t obtain that consent through fraudulent means,” Curtatone writes on Facebook, adding, “Barstool flaunts its lack of respect for most things, but it needs to respect the laws that govern the business it conducts.”

He is seeking damages, but pledged to donate any award to Respond, Inc., a women’s shelter in Somerville. In his complaint, Curtatone says he “never received any request from Minihane for an interview.”

Minihane, who was an incendiary voice on the WEEI sports talk radio show Kirk & Callahan, announced in May that he would soon be working for Barstool. The first episode of his new podcast for the company was published Monday.

Curtatone, the outspoken eight-term mayor of Somerville who seems to relish picking fights online, had criticized the Boston Bruins for partnering with Barstool, accusing the company on Twitter of serving up “misogyny, racism & general right wing lunacy under a ‘sports’ heading.”  The site’s founder, Dave Portnoy, responded by publicly accusing Curtatone of being “a professional criminal.”

So this apparently caught Minihane’s attention. In a video posted to the Barstool website on June 6, Minihane explains his decision to conceal his identity to get Curtatone to answer questions. “I attempted, as Kirk Minihane, to talk to Curtatone and I got no response. So I did what any honest journalist would do: I lied, and I said I was Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe,” he says into the camera.

In the interview, Minihane can be heard pressing Curtatone on why the mayor holds such a dim view of the company, and asks him to provide specific examples of sexism, racism, or homophobia in its programming. Curtatone sputters at the barrage of questions and highlights some of the online abuse that critics of Barstool inevitably face, but does not seem to realize he’s been had, referring to Minihane as “Kevin” throughout the roughly 15 minute phone call.

Minihane denies that his conduct broke the wiretapping law, but declined to elaborate when asked for comment. “My statement is I hate Boston Magazine,” he said in a text message.

Portnoy also claimed in a tweet that Minihane did not work at Barstool when he called Curtatone.