Howie Carr, scourge of hacks


Looking for some other stuff on the web, I came across something about Howie Carr.

Howie Carr is a favorite of mine. Howie is a columnist for the Boston Herald and a radio talk show host. Oddly, I don't remember reading him during my time in college. I became aware of him a couple of years later, during the 1988 presidential campaign. Howie was doing the rest of the country a great service by telling the truth about Michael Dukakis' maladministration of Massachusetts, at a time when PeeWee (as Howie calls him) was running on a platform of "competence, not ideology". Howie exposed the reality behind the "Massachusetts Miracle", called attention to the frantic financial fudging that was going on to avoid Massachusetts showing a deficit a month before the election. A friend bought me a mail subscription to the Herald, and I had a great time reading Howie's hilarious dissections of Bay State politics.

Howie's central focus is on government corruption and cozy deals, reporting things that the political "hacks" (a favorite word) would just as soon keep quiet. Howie doesn't just talk about what other people report. He does his own digging and comes up with the documentation. He regularly calls attention to ex-legislators and relatives of politicians who have landed cushy high paying jobs in the state bureaucracy, reporting their salaries and job "responsibilities". Many of Howie's columns feature info from the "hack hotline" -- whistle-blowing reports from government employees.

Howie's closely followed the career of mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, who has been implicated in the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. In fact, on the X Files section of his website, Howie has the court document spelling out Steve "the Rifleman" Flemmi's racketeering guilty plea -- the part of the plea pertaining to Wheeler is on pages 8, 9, and 10.

Critics decry Carr as a bombthrower, fueling the fires of public cynicism with his irreverent tone and exposure of dodgy deals, making politicians targets for public anger. But the reason the public gets angry is that Carr is reporting on things that ought to make the voters angry. We could use more anger and less apathy here in Tulsa.

I used to say that Tulsa and Oklahoma needed a Howie Carr. I suspect there's nearly as much funny business going on behind the scenes here as there is in Massachusetts. At long last we've got KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno and the Tulsa Beacon to shine the light of truth on local politics, and I am grateful.

Here's one of Howie's recent columns, comparing John "Liveshot" Kerry to Michael "PeeWee" Dukakis.

MORE: In looking up some of Howie's work, I learned that a pioneering Boston radio talk show host, Jerry Williams, passed away back in May. In the '80s, Jerry used his bully pulpit to lead a tax revolt. Here is a tribute to Williams by Howie Carr, who credits Williams with getting him started in talk radio:

But he did give me my start in the biz, back at the Democratic convention in Atlanta in '88. Peachtree Street was crawling with payroll patriots from Boston, many more than could be listed in a week's worth of columns. So every afternoon, Jerry would have me on the show for a while, reciting names and salaries of the Hotlanta Hackerama. And I thought nothing more of it until I got back to Boston and was approached by a young Dukakoid delegate and Mike Connolly coatholder named Marty Meehan - yes, that Marty Meehan. [Meehan was later a congressman.]

"Thanks a lot," he said, "for mentioning me and my salary."

Marty, I said, you got left on the cutting-room floor. You didn't even make the column. "The column?" he said. "I'm talking about the radio."

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 12, 2003 11:03 PM.

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