Why is the Boston Globe Covering Up for Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker? (Updated)

Boston’s paper of record is effectively covering up for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker by failing to cover a growing pay to play scandal in New Jersey, with Baker as one of its central figures. David Sirota has been doing impressive sleuthing, and his latest report, which we’ll cover shortly, reveals that Chris Christie is persistine in his effort to hide information that presumably implicates Baker.

Some background from a post a month ago:

Sirota showed how that Baker made a $10,000 donation to the New Jersey Republican Party shortly before Christie officials gave Baker’s firm a pension management contract. That donation ran afoul of the Garden State’s pay-to-play rules that bar contributions from executives and partners of entities that manage state pension funds.

New Jersey launched an investigation into Sirota’s charges and announced that as a result, it was exiting the contract with Baker’s firm.

In a sign that Sirota is drawing blood, Christie himself, as well as members of his administration, have launched personal attacks on Sirota rather than making honest rebuttals to his charges (another strategy has been to misrepresent the stringent requirements of the state pay-to-play law). The paper of record in Massachusetts, the Boston Globe, has yet to deign to report on this scandal. [Update/correction: The Boston Globe has in fact reported on the story. Its only account was on Baker’s denial two months ago, which has been trumped by the investigation finding and the cancellation of the contract with Baker’s company].

Here are the latest developments in this sorry saga from Sirota late on Monday:

As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has helped Charlie Baker with millions of dollars worth of ads supporting his Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. But that’s not the only way he may be boosting the GOP candidate in the final weeks of a close election: Christie officials are blocking the release of the findings of New Jersey’s pay-to-play investigation into Baker…

When the campaign donations and subsequent pension contract came to light in May, Democrats criticized Baker, who was then launching his 2014 campaign for governor of Massachusetts. In response, New Jersey launched a formal investigation into Baker’s contributions. The Newark Star-Ledger reported at the time that Christie officials “said the review would take several weeks.”

Five months later, with Baker now neck-and-neck in the polls with Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley and backed by more than $5 million from the Christie-led RGA, Christie officials have denied an open records request for the findings of the investigation.

In a reply to International Business Times’ request for the findings of the audit under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, Christie’s Treasury Department said the request is being denied on the grounds that the documents in question are “consultative and deliberative material.” Despite officials’ assurances in May that the probe would take only weeks, the New Jersey Treasury said in September that the investigation is still “ongoing” — a designation the department says lets it stop the records from being released.

IBTimes is appealing the open-records denial to the state’s Government Records Council. Neither Baker nor Christie responded to requests for comment on the issue.

General Catalyst and Baker have denied that Baker had anything to do with persuading Christie officials to invest in the firm. To try to verify that assertion, IBTimes filed a separate request for any General Catalyst documents sent to the New Jersey Department of Treasury prior to its investment. Those documents would show whether General Catalyst specifically promoted Baker’s involvement in the firm when pitching its investment to New Jersey.

Christie officials are pushing back the due date to release those documents to Nov. 6 — two days after the election.

The failure of the Globe to take notice of this scandal, particularly given Christie’s heroic efforts to keep it under wraps, is a disgrace.

Particularly if you are in Massachusetts, please call or e-mail the Globe’s managing editor for news, Christine Chinlund and tell her the Globe is showing favoritism rather than acting as a news outlet by ignoring a growing scandal focused on a candidate for the state’s most powerful office.

Chinlund’s e-mail is: chinlund@globe.com and her phone is 617 929-3134.

It is also revealing that the Globe does not have an ombudsman. So much for its commitment to journalistic ethics.

The other approach is to show up the Globe by getting the word out through social media. Tweet the story, either our summary or Sirota’s latest account, and post them on FaceBook. If the press refuses to do its job, it’s time for the Web-savvy to do it for them.

Update: Late this afternoon, the Globe weighed in, but the headline spins the scandal as a Democratic tempest in a teapot: Democrats decry late release of investigation of Baker donation. And the opening section fails to mention that Baker’s donation looks to have been an example of “pay to play” and runs afoul of New Jersey’s stringent conflict laws. These are the first two paragraphs:

The New Jersey state treasurer’s office will not publicly release its review into the legality of GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s controversial donation to Governor Chris Christie’s state party until after the Massachusetts gubernatorial election, the Globe has learned.

Democrats, including aides to Baker’s Democratic rival Martha Coakley, are crying foul, noting that Christie — as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which has spent about $8.4 million in television ads to back Baker — has a vested interest in keeping the review under tight wraps until the campaign is over.

In the online version, “pay to play” does not appear until the third paragraph, and there’s a very large ad inserted in the article between the second and third para. I had to scroll down in my browser to get to the third para. How many readers will skip past the article, based on the headline, or not read it in full? And as before, the account is larded with defenses of Baker: “Democrats have tried to tie it to a $15 million New Jersey pension fund investment with a Cambridge-based firm where Baker worked.” Um, the person who has ferreted out the relationships is David Sirota, a reporter who is going after pay to play scandals in both parties.

Here’s how it formats on my machine. Note that the text doesn’t even appear above the fold; the large photo of Baker more than fills the height of the screen:

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 6.36.48 PM

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 6.42.38 PM

If the formatting is simply a mistake, it nevertheless turns out to be awfully convenient for Baker.

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  1. wbgonne

    “Why is the Boston Globe Covering Up for Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker?”

    Maybe because the Globe is now owned by fellow “savvy businessman” John Henry. Just a guess.

  2. James Levy

    I don’t know how or when the ideal of making news reporting as objective as possible morphed into the mindless stenography that now passes for respectable “high-end journalism”, but it has been a disaster. Newspapers and television outlets seem utterly incapable of calling a lie a lie. “Objectivity” is no longer the presentation of demonstrable facts and clear, verifiable timelines but the incessant rushing back and forth between one “worthy” and another (defined by political position and/or bank account, not expertise) writing down their every word with no independent verification necessary. The new ideal in journalism seems to be: talk to Republican, write down response; talk to Democrat, write down response; throw up hands, print.

    Oh, and to those “lefty” postmodernists who created the whole intellectual miasmic swamp of anti-rationalist ideology in the name of “liberating” people from those nasty meta-narratives and the tyranny of “facts”: fuck you. All this “who can know” bullshit is at your doors. Every quack who thinks that global warming is just a trick by those evil Western rationalist scientists to “oppress” us owe their stripes to your baloney. You emasculated a generation of intellectuals and stole their belief that the world was intelligible and morals were more than evanescent constructs, because you told them one set was as good as any other. Why shouldn’t the Koch Brothers do what they are doing? Who are we to say that their reality is less real than ours? What a sickening legacy.

    1. wbgonne

      Though I think you overstate it, you have a valid point. The Right has taken the worst elements of 60s-liberalism and twisted them to their own ends. But when one considers that it was primarily young people (immature by definition) driving the 60s, then one might be more forgiving of them and even less so of those who have now corrupted a good-faith attempt by people who didn’t know better.

    2. tomk

      I agree with your first paragraph, but whatever it is you’re insulting and arguing against in the second is a personal construction of yours that doesn’t have any relationship to “reality”.

      Trying to be aware of different perspectives, and how they play into the ongoing experiences we all have, is not the same as nihilism. Sure you can cherry pick quotes that make some postmodernists look ridiculous, and some are, but overall the constant questioning of one’s assumptions is a good mental habit.

      1. James Levy

        The followers of Foucault, Lacan, and Derrida that I went to school with did not say, question you assumptions–they said all thought is language, language is indeterminate and always fails, there was not such thing as “truth” (gotta add the quotes, they all loved putting words in quotes), and therefore all value systems were relative. Those were the key points of the postmodernist project. And they have come back to bight us on the ass. I, as a military historian, am too well aware that shells rip flesh and armies rape people. A man being shot or a child being herded into a gas chamber has no time to question reality–it’s too immediate. So I have no patient for the pretension philosophical assholes who preached postmodern radical skepticism and relativism.

        1. Sluggeaux

          You, sir, are spot-on. It was the Left that led the charge to deny objective reality, truth, and ethics. Morality became situational and subjective, and corrupt, self-serving, blood-sucking punks like Mitt Romney and the Charlie Baker are encouraged loot with complete impunity by a lazy, cowed, and monopoly-owned mainstream press.

        2. wbgonne

          I don’t recall the Left urging that relativism be applied to journalism. In fact, the 60s and 70s seem to be the heyday for investigative journalism in America. That others took certain principles and misapplied them for their own aims is on them.

        3. tomk

          I appreciate your response. What I don’t follow is how the postmodernist project you describe has contributed to the sorts of atrocities you invoke. And the fact that pretentious philosophical assholes were the supporters of certain ideas doesn’t say anything at all about the validity of those ideas.

          One of my favorite books dealing with this topic is Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity by Richard Rorty, which managed to be entertaining and thought provoking. Years after reading it I looked forward to a radio interview with him and was shocked to find him a pompous condescending bore. As an autodidact reading postmodernists resonated with me, affirming childhood suspicions of the arbitrariness of all culture, but if I’d had to encounter them in person in an institutional setting, I might feel as negatively as you.

  3. Working Class Nero

    In ten minutes of research I found the following articles about this issue in the Boston Globe. I’m not saying any are particularly hard hitting but they are not ignoring the story.








    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t know how I missed the September 15 story but I did, and I did do a couple of searches on the Globe site when my older post ran. The headline is “NJ reported to sell investment” and the subhead is “The New Jersey State Investment Council is said to have sold its stake in an investment fund managed by a firm where Charlie Baker was listed as a partner.” You’d have to know this was a scandal to even recognize why this was a story.

      However, the other stories you cite don’t disprove the pattern, in that the Globe, which is far and away the most powerful paper in Massachusetts (no paper in New Jersey is so dominant) has largely chosen to ignore the story. The last previous reporting was in June, with another bury the lead headline and story: “Charlie Baker making headlines, but in N.J. and not Mass.” and the subhead: “Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker is making big headlines in New Jersey, but not so much here.” That article bends over backwards to defend Baker, for instance: “Baker’s donation, made at a Christie-sponsored event in Boston, would likely be of little notice in New Jersey if it weren’t for the political maelstrom swirling around the New Jersey governor.”

      I didn’t go back as far as you did because the older stories were well before the final weeks of the election, when voters are engaged. Political studies repeatedly say that many voters make up their minds right before the election. Yet the New Jersey Investment Board acknowledged that there indeed was likely a problem by selling the investment, which means this scandal has escalated as a story.

      By contrast, Charlie Baker calling a female reporter “sweetheart” got 18 mentions in stories in the Globe, six of the in the headline or subhead. So it appears the Globe deems political correctness to be more important that possible corruption.

  4. Larry

    Tweeted, emailed, and called.

    I suspect but don’t know that the reason they’re staying away from the story is that it’s an “ongoing” story and they don’t want to appear to unduly interfere with the election. News organizations are often more about not upsetting the apple cart than delivering useful information.

    1. wbgonne

      Back when news organization actually presented news we would call a story like this “investigative journalism.” How quaint. But that was back before news organizations became profit centers and vanity projects. Also back before I canceled my longtime Boston Globe subscription. Now we’ll just wait until AFTER the election and then be positively scandalized that we elected a crook governor. Oops. Who could have known?

      1. sd

        Newspapers have long been used for political ends to influence self-serving interests (see: Hearst). The problem today is the lack of an opposing view. All of the newspapers hold one view and one view only and it belongs to the 1%.

        1. wbgonne

          Hearst was the exception. Now he is the rule. The Boston Globe used to be decent. Now it is a neoliberal propaganda organ. The old Globe would have been all over this Charlie Baker corruption story.

          1. Procopius

            You’re saying Joseph Pulitzer and Horace Greeley didn’t use their newspapers to influence politics? Hmmm.

            1. wbgonne

              What I am saying is this. I am very familiar with the Boston Globe, over a period of 30-plus years. The Globe used to be decent; now it sucks. The Globe used to do investigative journalism; now it doesn’t. The Globe wasn’t owned by financier John Henry; now it is.

              I agree that newspapers have historically been power centers and also that certain newspapers have been used for personal purposes over the years. The problem now is that it has become epidemic. And the larger problem, IMO, is that news organizations previously had interests that were sometimes in competition with the political and business elites. With consolidation and financialization, those power centers have merged.

  5. Northeaster

    Posted on FB, as this is my neck of the woods. In full disclosure, Coakley is just as bad (i.e. Fraudclosure sellout), so we’re voting for the lesser once again. There is a debate, but the politics and owned media here are not letting Independents, who will be on the ballot, participate.

  6. yenwoda

    [Update/correction: The Boston Globe has in fact reported on the story. Its only account was on Baker’s denial [in May 2014]

    The story certainly seems under-covered, but the Globe also ran this piece in June.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Please see my reply to Working Class Nero, above.

          As the scandal has escalated, and we are entering the final weeks of the race, which is what counts in elections, the Globe’s reporting has declined to zero. There are a full 200 articles on Charlie Baker after its last one on this topic, Sept. 15. Studies repeatedly say that the last three weeks, at the very outside, the last six weeks, are critical in campaigns. A large swathe of voters don’t make up their minds until then.

          1. wbgonne

            Yes. And not only that, most people didn’t know who Charlie Baker was then, nor did people have much reason to pay attention then. This is when the governor will be chosen. This is when it matters. I’m not much of a Coakley fan (are there any?) but, you know what, she appears to be a relatively honest career civil servant who is not in politics to enrich herself. That in itself is a refreshing change, and decisively separates her from her opponent.

            1. Brooklin Bridge

              Martha Coakley is an Obama-bot of the worst possible order. She was falling all over herself to compromise every stated position she had ever publicly taken during her bid for the remainder of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, including being wined and dined by the Insurance Companies in Washington while her public persona was that health care should be about individual’s health and not corporate profits. She stated openly that she would go along with what ever compromises were in the bill (such as seriously restricting abortion rights) so that the “perfect wouldn’t be the enemy of the good.”

              What a choice. This is a distilled lessor of two evils farce where Coakley may have a better appearance in terms of corruption, but the end result is as bad or worse since she will sell her constituents out – probably – more thoroughly than any Republican ever could.

              1. wbgonne

                Yup. I agree with everything you said. I don’t think Coakley is a money-grabbing crook using political office simply for personal gain. That’s all I can say for her. I guess that’s something notable these days.

            1. ChrisPacific

              Even that is pretty anodyne. The Globe isn’t taking a position, the Democrats are, and loudly enough that the Globe feels obliged to report it, which they duly do by printing the Democrat claims followed by the Republican responses. Nothing more. There’s no attempt to actually get to the bottom of the story, or even review the earlier work (reading Sirota or even mentioning him would be a good start). It perfectly fits the journalistic ideal described by James Levy in his comment above.

              The only discussion of Sirota I can find is in the opinion piece on BetaBoston from back in May, which is pretty good but seems fairly far out in left field as far as the Globe family is concerned (and there is no follow-up since then).

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              It didn’t come out till this afternoon, so the post is correct as written.

              Moreover, people who read the Globe regularly (as in Boston residents) and are keenly into politics, as in they’d look for this sort of thing, say that the Baker stories on the pay to play scandal have never appeared among the headlines presented when you visit the site or in the overview of the major sections of the paper. Even at the time they ran, you had to dig to find them.

  7. Northeaster

    New headline on The Boston Globe site: “No finding on legality of Baker donation until after election”

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