Why WhoWhatWhy’s Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage Is Important - WhoWhatWhy

Why WhoWhatWhy’s Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage Is Important

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Boston Globe Columnist Kevin Cullen. Photo credit: Harvard University.

Boston Globe Columnist Kevin Cullen. Photo credit: Harvard University.

“Conspiracy theorist” is a convenient term for dismissing people who don’t blindly accept any official story that appears in the media.  It’s also used as a smokescreen—to steer people away from the inconvenient truths that sometimes lurk behind those official stories.

At WhoWhatWhy, we specialize in asking hard questions when something doesn’t seem to add up. Now that traditional news outlets have all but abdicated their responsibility to keep our officialdom honest, this seems like an increasingly important mission.

A case in point is the current coverage of the Tsarnaev trial by the Boston Globe. You would think such a venerable newspaper would go out of its way to conduct an independent investigation of the government’s claims concerning the 2013 Marathon attack in its hometown, and the massive ramping up of security state authority in its wake.

But it has not. Indeed, it has done something worse—served as a virtual extension of the official propaganda machine. There has been almost zero investigation of key elements, including the established prior relationship between the FBI and the elder Tsarnaev brother, Tamerlan.

Nowhere is this preference for boosterism over inquiry more on display than with the Globe’s  opinion columnist Kevin Cullen, who is providing a big piece of the paper’s trial “coverage.” Cullen is a veteran newsman who shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandals in 2003. But his reporting at the Tsarnaev trial doesn’t even come close to meeting standards of responsible journalism.

As a columnist, he’s of course assumed to have his biases—and to state them clearly, especially in tweets. But Cullen’s blatant favoritism in a life-or-death case—before all the evidence was in—is still unexpected from a Pulitzer winner whose stature puts him in a position to influence The Globe’s daily coverage.

Keep in mind that the judge has barred direct radio and TV broadcasts from the courtroom. So the first channel of information on what’s happening has been the tweets of people in the courtroom.

The Empathetic Mr. Cullen

On Monday, while tweeting about the testimony of police officers involved in the Watertown shootout, Cullen left no doubt that he has abandoned any pretense of providing impartial coverage:

I’m sure Officer Reynolds’ family and friends would agree that he is a “good guy.” And he may well be. But that’s not really what a reporter should be writing, or even thinking, when Reynolds took the stand. Indeed, to reinforce his solidarity with the testifying policemen, Cullen went on to refer to Reynolds simply as “Joe.” In the same way, Sergeant John MacLellan became “Mac” and Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese was plain old “Jeff.” No last names, because it’s all one “Boston Strong” family. Forget the history of problems with law enforcement testimony, in Boston and elsewhere. Cullen also evinces absolutely no doubt at all about any of the claims made regarding a wild firefight with the defendant and his brother—including one where a police officer was critically injured…by other officers. And when several witnesses stated that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could have easily avoided hitting his brother while escaping in a SUV, Cullen tweeted:

It’s safe to say we cannot expect Kevin Cullen to uncover any inconsistencies in the police testimony, much less pursue those wherever they might lead. Why am I so sure? Because Cullen himself revealed as much in a column he wrote after defense attorney Judy Clarke admitted—in a bid to spare her client the death penalty— the culpability of  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev:

Clarke broke the hearts of the conspiracy theory wackos who have held handmade signs outside the courthouse and filled the Internet with absurd tales of the government using actors to stage the Marathon bombing, that the Tsarnaevs were patsies in some grand conspiracy orchestrated by an Orwellian government.

Now, I’m a political journalist, and I have not followed the bombing, the subsequent investigation, and the trial as extensively as some of my colleagues at WhoWhatWhy. I don’t know for sure what happened in those chaotic days back in April 2013, but I have good reason to find credible the documented assertions that some parts of the official story don’t add up.

There is, however, one thing I’m absolutely sure of: That we should all be glad there are people who are asking the tough questions and probing into the irregularities. Because it’s clear we cannot expect professional distance from the likes of the empathetic Mr. Cullen and others behaving in a similar manner.

It’s easy to get ahead of the parade on an emotional issue involving horrific violence and tragedy. It is not, however, the right thing to do when you are a journalist (or a juror), and all the answers are not in yet.

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

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14 responses to “Why WhoWhatWhy’s Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage Is Important”

  1. Title

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  2. Avatar oh_look says:

    You’re facebook share button does not working. Just letting you know…

  3. Avatar John Cathy says:

    Judy Clark is all part of this show trial. There is a reason she is involved in so many of these fables. She is a key part of it.

    Worst defense ever. And the defendant is clearly medicated and in a trance.

    • Avatar oh_look says:

      How do you know he is in a trance? This was not a Hoax. The people who keep saying it is a hoax are actually helping the prosecution and ensuring that rational questions and dissent are lumped in with the Hoax crowd.

    • Avatar John Cathy says:

      How do I know. The guy hasn’t blinked in 10 days of trial.
      I know its hard to get your head around, but people who have their legs blown off BLEED when they are carted around in a wheelchair. (putting aside the fact that a high school kid knows you elevate a wound and you don’t sit the person in a wheel chair)
      Is that a rational enough question? Why don’t you use your reason to figure that one out.
      And there are dozens more if you have an open mind to look.

      How do you know its real? The conspiracy would have to be so enormous that it is unbelievable…. Yes that is true. But you have to put that aside and look at all the anomalies.

    • Avatar oh_look says:

      Are you at the trial? Not many people are able to get in. Just because there were people like the guy in the wheelchair does not mean it was a hoax. There may have been a drill going on, but that still does not mean it was a hoax. Sometime during the “drill” a real bomb actually went off.

      These people that do “psy-ops” or “psychological warfare” are not dumb. After every shooting event (or bombing, etc) people are now all over the internet screaming “it didn’t really happen, it didn’t happen, it’s a hoax”….. and then anyone who has rational questions is quickly linked to these nutcases. The people shouting “it’s a hoax” and “it didn’t really happen” are actually part of the psy-ops. Because guess what? You cry wolf too many times and ALL OF THE TIME, nobody listens. The Hoaxer crowds are inadvertently helping the Prosecution.

      Those in positions of power within the various “agencies” are then able to pull off some of the most heinous crimes, pinning it on some patsie or innocent person (or group or nation), and then tell the public non-nonsensical scenarios without any evidence to back it up and actually fabricating information and scenarios that they cannot even prove…..And the public buys it, because any other way of thinking has already been linked with the kooks spouting “it didn’t really happen”.

    • Avatar John Cathy says:

      That was a long justification for not answering my one question about the leg. Granted there are dozens of similar anomalies. Crazy “screamers” are no doubt part of the pay op, but if simply pointing out that his legs are not bleeding constitutes “screaming” then we should get in line and salute.

      I really don’t think you are looking at the issue with an open mind. Sometimes people are so afraid of being called a “crazy” that they have a bias towards the group think. I think that may be your case or you are a disinformation agent.

  4. Avatar John Cathy says:

    You say you have not followed the trial? Yet you are writing a story about the coverage. Well, do some research. take a stand. Is it fake or not. It doesn’t take that much if ou are looking,

  5. Avatar jane24 says:

    Great perspective and thanks , Klaus Marre. Good to see Kevin Cullen and his ilk called out on their very one sided coverage of this case. Wonder at what point KC lost interest in investigative journalism and, more to the point, why?

  6. Avatar sfulmer says:

    WhoWhatWhy (or, good old “Who”) specializes in asking the hard questions. Is there an outlet that specializes in describing the true “narrative”, one that would answer those hard questions? Clearly, Tsarnaev’s defense team (good old “Judy”) has not subscribed to it, if so.

  7. Avatar onetree says:

    Truly, I can’t find any parts of the story that do add up. I’m absolutely amazed that anyone takes the entire charade seriously. It’s the most obvious, blatant, and malicious manipulation I’ve ever seen. Every aspect of it is corrupt and is not to be believed by anyone who is using critical thinking skills.

    If there’s any justice in this world, this will eventually be declared a mistrial and the whole thing can be done in a location where people have not been quite so mind controlled and who can access their critical thinking capacities. In addition, Judge O’Toole should not only be disbarred but imprisoned, along with all other participants in the farce.

  8. Avatar oh_look says:

    Today; When defense attorney, Watkins, was cross examining FBI Special Agent Michael Nealon, he asked him if his team had found a gun or ammunition in the boat. Both times asked, the Prosecution Objected to the question and the Judge O’Toole SUSTAINED it.

    And that sums up the entire trial. The Defense is really not pressing anything, or really providing a Defense at all. It is TOTALLY relevant to ask if they found a gun and ammunition in the boat. The only reason they sustained it had to be there WAS NO GUN. To say there was no gun would bring into question WHO and HOW Jahar was either shot thru the throat or cut. They want to kill this kid but he can’t get a decent defense.

    An interesting “theory” about Danny possibly being a handler to the brothers, and who was the initial contact and part of a sting to kill the brothers was written by a guy in 2013 I think:

    https://edwardmd.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/two-fbi-agents-murdered-over-dannys-235000-the-closing-of-loose-lips-sinks-ships/

  9. Avatar MarkTenneyNewMathDoneRight says:

    There is tremendous pressure to go along with the official narrative. For MSM, the pressure is so great, they can only be open cheer leaders for gov. They’ve chosen sides and the public was never going to be their side.

    At this point, every little inconsistency should be pushed. We are on the ropes right now and need to jab back on the small things until we can get off them.

  10. Avatar Delta Rodgers says:

    I am trying like heck to have any people who might not have heard any of the Boston Bombing Material to look at it ** TODAY, TOMORROW AND UNTIL THE TRIAL IS OVER * I am posting on bostonglobe.com and boston.com, where they are doing daily updates, just in the comments sections, and they are getting left up, even the links. Right now, deltatd2 is me but not too many other people are questioning anything, just going “rah rah” to the police or trying to insult “conspiracy theorists.” Anyone want to help me out on those two pages? Peekay’s got great vids but I think one from PlasmaBurns is the most convincing. It’s at the bottom of my next post. You have probably seen it, but it’s one I shared with Boston Globe readership. My next post here will be long but I think well argued enough to read all the way through. I am a professional writer. My thesis at this point is to draw attention to the fact that the Defense is showing no interest at all in alternatives to the prosecution, and it is their DUTY to do so. I don’t expect Judy Clarke, government master-actor, to do so, but I do hope SOME readers wonder why this kid is not getting any defense at all.

    • Avatar MarkTenneyNewMathDoneRight says:

      A commission needs to be appointed to look into Boston Marathon Bombing, FBI, CIA and NSA files, Todashev, etc. They should disclose the secret hearings on Todashev shooting and look into the inconsistencies. Public hearings with gov witnesses under oath.

      The higher levels of DOJ should have to answer questions in public under oath and they can’t just walk out like FBI does to Congress.