Howie Carr’s mysterious liberal foil
LOVE HIM or hate him, Howie Carr puts his name over his rantings.
That’s not true of the blogger on Bluemassgroup.com who called upon readers to boycott Carr’s WRKO radio show and its advertisers.
The blogger, who goes by the handle “Ernie Boch III’’, got results. Some advertisers started getting calls asking them to stop sponsoring Carr’s show. Unhappy advertisers, in turn, called Ernie Boch Jr., the car dealer, thinking that he must be related to the blogger. He isn’t.
In response to criticism of this attack by pseudonym, “Ernie’’ blogged: “Stay focused people. The issue is not about who started the boycott. The issue is Howie Carr.’’
But the issue is also the Internet’s ability to give cover to critics who don’t have to do what Carr does - own their opinions. The blogosphere opened up the public conversation to new, thoughtful voices, but it should not provide a shield to hide biases and private agendas.
Contacted via his e-mail address, “Ernie’’ gave this reply when asked why he believes it’s right to launch an anonymous attack against anyone, including Carr:
“Ernie Boch III is a character created to express opinion. Anonymity of its author is a red herring when the opinions are not such as yelling fire in a crowded theater, and are based on fact. The anonymity allows the author freedom from being handcuffed by outside attack if his or her writings gain a following. It is the words within the four corners of the writing that count. Not who the author is. If there are any biases they do not matter when non-biased people agree with the opinion based on facts.’’
The Boston Herald column that “Ernie’’ didn’t like was classic Carr. It dripped with his usual venom for Democrats and public sector employees. In this case, the victim was Judge Thomas E. Connolly, who denied an emergency request by state Republicans to stop Governor Deval Patrick from appointing a US Senate replacement for the late Edward M. Kennedy.
Carr listed his usual grievances against “this future enabler of sordid Democrat machinations,’’ such as political contributions Connolly allegedly made to secure his judgeship. Then he pushed the attack another notch below the belt. After mentioning that Connolly spent five years in the early 1960s at St. John’s Seminary, Carr noted that “most of the worst pedophiles in the archdiocese attended St. John’s during the same years.’’
He buttressed his casual link of Connolly to pedophilia by referencing a Globe column that demanded Connolly recuse himself from the trial of a Catholic priest with whom he attended St. John’s. But in that opinion piece, former Globe columnist Eileen McNamara did not stretch to make any connection between Connolly and pedophilia. She merely wrote that the judge should avoid “the appearance of partiality’’ and recuse himself from a case involving a former classmate.
In a phrase Carr might admire, “Ernie’’ called the Herald columnist’s attack “journalistic man on man rape.’’
David Kravitz, a founder and editor of Bluemassgroup.com, said he does not know “Ernie’s’’ identity. All that is required of Bluemassgroup bloggers is a valid e-mail address.
“That’s all I know about him. . . . For all I know he could be Judge Connolly himself,’’ said Kravitz, of the incisive, but often cutting blogger. Indeed, “Ernie’s’’ account was suspended once because of attacks the Bluemassgroup editors deemed “too personal’’ - a common complaint about Carr.
Kravitz has no problem with Ernie’s smackdown of Carr’s recent column. “Insinuating that Judge Connolly is a pedophile is way, way over the line,’’ said Kravitz. As a lawyer who clerked for Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court and worked in the governor’s legal office under the Weld and Cellucci administrations, Kravitz also argues, “There’s no doubt that what Connolly did was correct. The (GOP) lawsuit was a joke.’’
“Ernie’s’’ critique of Carr’s act as a generally mean, narrow-minded, liberal-hating, chauvinist and homophobe is accurate. He could also add Globe basher.
But, everyone knows exactly what Carr is trying to do: shock and awe his readers with outrageous opinions. And Carr doesn’t hide his bitterness behind a pseudonym. His agenda is clear: readers and ratings.
“Ernie’s’’ is much more of a mystery.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.