And thus spake Martin Meehan
Media types will tell you they view public relations people, who they often refer to as flacks, as necessary evils. PR folks will say the same about journalists, except for the necessary part.
Usually, though, there is an acknowledgement from both sides that they’re just doing their jobs, which makes a recent episode involving the Lowell Sun and the University of Massachusetts president’s office press people noteworthy.
Last week, new UMass President Marty Meehan met with students at the Boston campus for a roundtable discussion on his first day on the job. The Sun had a keen interest in the event because Meehan, the son of a former Sun compositor, is their guy, a Lowell native who represented the city in Congress for more than 14 years before becoming chancellor of UMass Lowell for the last eight years.
Shortly after the discussion ended, Meehan’s new office sent out a press release that was written as a story about the event. “As a UMass graduate and thus as someone who once sat where you sit today, it is important to me to begin this journey with students,” Meehan said to the students, according to the release.
Feathers subsequently called Scott and said Meehan never said any of the things the UMass press release put in his mouth. “He called me a short time later and said, ‘Marty didn’t use any of these quotes, it wasn’t even close,'” Scott told CommonWealth.
Scott decided the situation was worth noting in the paper so he wrote an item for the Sun’s Sunday political notes column, which had a bit of bite to it. Scott focused on a couple quotes that he says were red flags to anyone who knows Meehan, including using the word “thus.”
“Ignoring the horrible grammar (there were English majors at the event who can teach you how to use semicolons, UMass), the quote is utter baloney. Meehan never said it, and that’s not the way he speaks,” wrote Scott. “Does anyone, much less a guy who grew up poor in Lowell, use the word ‘thus’ in speech? The real shame is that Meehan is an eloquent person and provided plenty of good quotes Wednesday.”
So why did Scott put the UMass-generated story on the newspaper’s website when he later called it “utter baloney?”
“The press release captured in spirit what Marty was saying even though it didn’t use the exact quote,” Scott said. “In this day and age, there’s a great demand to be first. I saw it, I had no reason to doubt that Marty said these things.”
University spokesman Robert Connolly, a former ink-stained wretch himself, said he was flummoxed by the item and had some email exchanges with Scott. “I thought it was a little harsh but it was a point that they felt was worth making,” Connolly said of the Sun story. “Everybody has a right to their own opinion; that’s the way the world works.”
Connolly admits that if his office had it to do over again, it would have made changes and pointed out the comments were statements. “In hindsight we could have done a better job to make it clear these were prepared remarks,” he said. “It was a hectic day and the release went out as it was. Press releases can contain comments that were not actually spoken in the world.”
“No one has covered themselves in glory here,” says Leccese. “If you’re going to send out these press releases, you put actual quotes in – or make sure your guy says these things.”
House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg tout their prudence in passing the budget and discuss what has to happen for them to get on-board the Olympic bandwagon. (Greater Boston)
A Boston Herald editorial urges Gov. Charlie Baker to veto the $10,000 pay raise included in the budget for “members of the utterly useless Governor’s Council.”
The harsh winter nets Worcester $40,000 in snow shoveling violations. (Telegram & Gazette)
The mystery figure whose letter spawned the state Ethics Commission probe of Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman Stephen Crosby is identified as Charles A. Baker III, a lawyer and Democratic political operative who last year represented rivals of Wynn Resorts in the competition for a Greater Boston casino license. (CommonWealth) The Globe follows up on the story it originally broke.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s legal challenge against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission survives a procedural challenge, but the city is also dealt setbacks. (CommonWealth)
Support for Boston hosting the 2024 Olympics doesn’t seem to be gaining, according to a new poll. (WBUR)
Quincy residents bat back and forth the proposal for Olympic beach volleyball at Squantum Point, with most expressing skepticism of the plan. (Patriot Ledger)
The New York Times takes a look at the decade-long occupation, thought to be the longest vigil in Catholic church history, of the desanctified St. Frances X. Cabrini Church in Scituate by parishioners who refuse to give up their protest despite legal pressure from the Archdiocese and the Vatican.
Federal officials say the hacking of government computers believed to initiate from China was far more widespread than initially thought, with the personal information including Social Security numbers, health information, and fingerprints of 21.5 million people being compromised in the security breach. (New York Times) The new estimate suggests information belonging to 7 percent of the US population was hacked. (Time)
Governing tries to explain why five state attorneys general are under legal clouds right now.
Jeb Bush‘s super PAC, for which he has helped raise money to support his presidential bid in appearances questioned by opponents and campaign finance experts, has hauled in more than $100 million in the first six months of the year. (U.S. News & World Report)
Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter has ordered his DPW director to investigate whether City Councilor Jasiel Correia, who is running for mayor against Sutter, pulled the proper building permits for renovations of an office for his Internet start-up business. (Herald News)
The MacArthur, Mott, and Open Society foundations, three of the nation’s highest-profile nonprofits, have been placed on a “patriotic stop-list” of two dozen charitable organizations by Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider whether they are a threat to that country’s government. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
A new elliptical-shaped glass tower rising in Boston’s Seaport district is getting positive reviews, including from Mayor Marty Walsh. (Boston Herald)
Joanna Weiss unpacks why PARCC is in trouble and how the battle over Common Core has become a proxy for the testing debate more generally. (Boston Globe)
A new drug developed by Cambridge-based Novartis offers improved outcomes for the millions of Americans suffering from heart failure, but it will come at a steep price. (Boston Herald)
Websites that claim to help people diagnose ailments show wide variation in reliability. (Boston Globe)
Guy Sorman, writing in City Journal, says the Paris taxi drivers and their government backers who have been on a rampage against Uber are modern-day Luddites. The new issue of CommonWealth features Argument & Counterpoint pieces from representatives of the local taxi industry and Uber.
Some Massachusetts coastal towns are installing shark-detection buoys at their beachesas the reports of sightings continue to increase. (Patriot Ledger)
A dollop of new greenspace in East Boston helps to right some of the decades of wrongs done by Massport, writes Renee Loth. (Boston Globe)
Oregon has begun installing GPS devices in the electric cars of owners who volunteer for a pilot program to track and tax mileage of those vehicles that do not pay a gas tax. (American Spectator)
Gov. Charlie Baker files legislation designed to increase the amount of hydroelectric power that the state uses. (MassLive)
Falmouth is still spinning its wheels over its two wind turbines. (Cape Cod Times)
The Globe tracks the comings and goings of a major drug trafficker who got freed because of the Annie Dookhan drug lab scandal and ended up back in Lawrence after being deported to the Dominican Republic.
Six Plymouth high school students were arrested on child pornography charges after an alleged “sexting” incident in which they passed around pictures on their phones of a nude teenage girl one of the boys had allegedly threatened. (Patriot Ledger)
Craig Vaille, an anti-violence advocate from Lowell, is beaten to death after trying to stop a fight between two men. (Lowell Sun)
A 72-year-old woman dies after being shoved and falling and hitting her head in Chinatown. The 24-year-old woman being charged in the case says the woman bumped into her and she shoved her back. (Boston Herald)MEDIA
The Globe has appointed Veronica Chao as editor of the Sunday magazine. (Media Nation)