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www.celticslinks.com – I still can’t compose anything here. It’s going to take a little while to find the words.

 

Approval Ratings – Tony Massarotti

Tony Massarotti, come on down…

Massarotti has been with the Herald since 1989, as he joined the paper fresh from Tufts University. He was the Massachusetts Winner of the 2001 National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Sportswriter of the Year award.

He’s been covering the Red Sox since 1994, but in recent years has moved into more of a general columnist role. With a few exceptions, his columns on sports outside of baseball usually tend to be on the negative side, and his recent column attacking Patriots fans alienated many readers.

He is highly visible on the Boston sports media scene, appearing on WEEI, Comcast SportsNet, NESN and WHDH TV.

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Tony Massarotti Approval Ratings
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Approval Ratings – Steve Bulpett

Steve BulpettWith the NBA Finals tapping off tonight, it’s appropriate that we look at the man that his Boston Herald profile calls “the dean of NBA beat writers in continuous service with a team.”

Steve Bulpett has been on the Celtics beat since the Bird days, and has seen plenty of ups, but probably more downs during his time covering the team. The profile says that he has been on the beat for 23 years, but I’m not sure when that figure was last updated.

Bulpett is a native of Lynn and Swampscott is a graduate of the University of Dayton, where he played intramural hoops, winning a championship with teammate Dan Patrick.

Bulpett is not someone you see and hear all over your airwaves, he seems to pick and choose his spots, and just focuses on doing his job and covering the team. He’s made appearances on Comcast SportsNet, Celtics Stuff Live, and a few other outlets recently.  

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Steve Bulpett Approval Ratings
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Approval Ratings – Michael Felger

Michael Felger So is he a newspaper writer, radio personality or television host?

Felger holds all three roles at the moment, though his work at the Boston Herald has been scaled back considerably. He first joined the paper in 1989 and worked his way up to the Bruins beat where he served from 1997 to 1998 before being pulled off the beat after an incident involving the Bruins ownership. He was moved to the Patriots beat starting in 1999, and really started to make a name for himself as an early supporter of Bill Belichick’s decision to go with Tom Brady over Drew Bledsoe in 2001.

He became a regular on WEEI’s Big Show, as well as on WBZ’s Sports Final, where his battles with Globe writers Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo were appointment viewing for a time. In those battles Felger was viewed as a Patriots toady, and ironically, since that time he has pretty much done a complete 180 and is now among the team’s more outspoken critics.

In 2005, Felger jumped to the new 890 ESPN Boston where he was given his own drive-time show in competition to WEEI’s Big Show. In the last year he has also taken over as co-host of Mohegan Sun’s Sports Tonight on Comcast SportsNet, replacing Greg Dickerson, who moved to the role of sideline reporter for the Celtics broadcasts on the station.

Felger is originally from Milwaukee and a graduate of Boston University. He is married to former WBZ/WSBK news anchor Sara Underwood.

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Michael Felger Approval Ratings
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Tomase – Whoops He Did It Again

From the Herald’s Point After blog today, which carries the byline of John Tomase:

Andrews was pulled over in Lowell on Feb. 5, just two days after the Super Bowl, with three pounds of pot and over $6,800 in cash.

On Boston.com’s Reiss’ Pieces, posted by Chris Gasper today:

Andrews was pulled over by police in Lowell on Feb. 5 and found to be in possession of a half pound of marijuana and $6,808, according to a police report.

Tomase is going to be in the spotlight going forward, and can’t afford mistakes of this sort.

Edit: Tomase’s post has been edited to read:

Andrews was pulled over in Lowell on Feb. 5, just two days after the Super Bowl, with three bags of pot totaling a half pound.

No note or explanation was given for the change. Sort of makes the title of his post, “Andrews admits his mistakes” a little ironic.

Editor’s Identities Not “In The Best Interest Of The Paper”

Adam Reilly talks to Herald editor Kevin Convey about why the specific editors that worked with John Tomase on the story have not been named.

In answer, Conveys says to Reilly:

The issue of the editors’ involvement was on the front page and back page of the Boston Herald, and in my editor’s note. I think that’s the answer I would give to that question. I just don’t see it in the best interest of the paper and the staff to go more deeply than that.

Reilly goes on to speculate some more on the reasons why Convey may feel this way.

Seth Mnookin offers a defense of John Tomase

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As you might imagine, this whole story has been a huge topic of conversation on the BSMW message board. One poster went back through the archives of the board and found a post from October 7, 2007, in which a poster stated the following:

Felger mentioned on his show a few weeks ago that there was “talk” that the Pats had videotaped the Rams walk-thru the day before SB 36.

Leaving out whether Felger did in fact make that statement or not, it was a public topic of conversation at least as far back at October.

In Tomase’s explanation today, he said:

Late in the 2006 season, I was having a casual conversation about the Patriots [team stats] when someone I trust threw out the following tidbit.

“I heard the Patriots filmed the Rams’ final walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI,” he said.

It was just a rumor, and certainly not actionable intelligence, as they say. He had heard it from a friend of a friend. I filed it away, and then forgot about it. Reporters hear stuff like that all the time.

Little did I know that comment would resurface from a much stronger source in the days after the Patriots had been caught filming the Jets’ defensive signals in September 2007.

The rumor was certainly making the rounds during that time. Whether or not Tomase and Felger had talked about it, (It seems natural that they would.) it’s interesting that Felger is apparently one of the ones who was circulating the rumor as well.

In recent days Felger has said that Tomase’s only error was using the wrong verb. He says “monitored” should be used rather than “filmed.” This also has seemingly been proven false, as the statements from Brian Daboll and the NFL would seem to indicate.

Where Are The Editors? Tomase Abettors Need To Be Named.

I still can’t decide on the Tomase explanation. I’m sufficiently assured that Tomase knows he truly screwed the pooch on this one. I’m disappointed in it because it was so hyped by the Herald- clearly they’re tried to capitalize on all the publicity this is generating. They appear to be firm subscribers to the notion that there’s no such thing as bad publicity…except, it seems for Tomase.  

He plans to go right back on the beat, and the paper appears willing to let that happen.

A couple quick things that I don’t really understand:

While I have no regrets over going to print the day before the Super Bowl, this is a story I simply could not afford to get wrong. And I did.

I guess he could afford to get it wrong, because what punishment has taken place? What price has been paid, save the outrage of the fan base of the Patriots?

Also, while I do somewhat understand not naming the sources – it doesn’t seem like it would do any good anyway – why is Tomase being allowed to fall on the sword alone on this one? Why aren’t the editors that worked with him to put this story into the paper being named and held accountable for this error? As far as we know, there has been no punishments at all handed out for this entire episode.

There has to be some sanctions for punishment here, right?

It really seems to me that the Herald is content to sit back and enjoy the wave of increased exposure that this incident has brought them.

Some reaction from around the Internet about the explanation in the Herald today.

Dan Kennedy still has some questions after Tomase explained the process of how the story got into the paper.

Paul Flannery on the Boston Daily blog wants to know where the Herald’s editors were in all of this.

Awful Announcing is shocked that Tomase still has a job after this.

Mike Florio says that he can’t help but feel that this is all “part of a broader, and carefully calculated, P.R. effort aimed at ensuring that Tomase keeps his beat, and that various editors at the Herald keep their jobs.”

Neil Best of New York Newsday has a pretty good idea who Tomase’s source was, but he’s not talking, either.

Toni Monkovic on the New York Times Fifth Down blog asks “Who among us hasn’t screwed up?”

Michael David Smith says that Tomase didn’t really explain much of anything.

Deadspin wonders how long Tomase will be able to deal with all the comments and remarks after every single thing that he writes.

The Coffin Corner demands reprimands and punishments to be handed out.

Heck, even Jets fans think that the Herald has gone too far this week!

Tomase Explanation A Bit Light In Detail

(Edit: 10:00am – Tomase has also posted some specific apologies on the Point After blog as an addendum to the explanation story below.) 

Boston Herald Front CoverUm….so that’s it?

Really?

Here’s the thumbnail version of John Tomase explanation before you decide to go out and buy the paper or click and read the story yourself:

A couple people told me that the Patriots taped the Rams walkthrough. I checked it out,  it sounded good, though I didn’t have any proof. I thought the New York Times was closing in and I didn’t want to get beat. We ran with it. I was sure. I was wrong. Sorry.

No sources named.

I guess I need some more time to digest this, meanwhile, you can check out David Scott‘s analysis of the explanation, along with some Bill Simmons and Heidi Watney notes.

The Celtics are in Cleveland tonight still trying to get their first road win of the postseason and to close out the Cavs. Check all the coverage from CelticsLinks.com. I’ve also got an article over at the Metro where I miss Eddie House.

Herald, Massarotti Continue Alienation of Readers

There will be no approval ratings today. Instead, we’re going with this analysis of the Boston Herald’s ongoing apology.

Has the Boston Herald been carefully orchestrating this whole walkthrough apology in order to generate the most attention (and revenue)?

It would appear so.

Yes, I certainly wanted more from the paper than simply the statement that was issued retracting the story and apologizing to the Patriots, but in addition to the apology, I would also expect some humility, contriteness, and sincerity to be a part of that package.

Dan Kennedy wonders how anyone could doubt the Herald’s sincerity, but he also admits that he believes Curt Schilling’s shoulder is a bigger story than the Super Bowl…

Herald editor Kevin R. Convey issued the following statement in regards to the episode.

A newspaper’s bond with its readers rests on credibility and accountability. When a mistake is made in reporting a story, that bond can remain intact, but only if the mistake is acknowledged, and acknowledged boldly, clearly and unequivocally.

The Herald did just that yesterday with its unprecedented front-page apology to the New England Patriots. We thought our story was solid. It wasn’t. And we owned up to it.

Nevertheless, I continue to stand behind the work of the Herald sports department and John Tomase, a talented journalist who has dealt with this difficult matter professionally while continuing to do his job under intense pressure.

In the end, as editor in chief of the Herald, I take full responsibility for the publication of this story, and I offer my own apology to our readers and our staff.

In tomorrow’s Herald, you’ll hear from John Tomase directly. And I hope that you’ll see, as our coverage of this story and others goes forward, that our dedication to accuracy remains unchanged, and that our first priority will always be maintaining that bond of trust with our readers.

I might be a bit too sensitive here, but his line about the “unprecedented front-page apology” strikes me as just a tad self-congratulatory. Look at us! We shouted it from the rooftops! Why couldn’t he have called it their “sincere” front page apology? Or just said “our apology?” Now is not the time to bask in your deeds.

He praises John Tomase for dealing with this “difficult matter professionally.” I’m just glad he didn’t laud John for his courage under “intense pressure.” Tomase brought this “difficult matter” and “intense pressure” upon himself by his lack of professionalism. We can’t forget that.

How about that last line: “our first priority will always be maintaining that bond of trust with our readers.” A little late for that, I’m afraid. Rather than maintaining, you’re going to have to build it first.

One sure way not to build a bond and trust with your readers is to publish pure garbage and hate like that spewed by Tony Massarotti this morning.

Not in New England, now the official home of yahoos, hero worshipers and gutless suck-ups. To this entire group, it was all about whether there was a tape; anything else doesn’t matter so much.

I don’t know about you, but reading that in the Herald gives me the warm fuzzies. I’m feeling a warm bond of trust building between the Boston Herald and all Patriots fans. Not that Tony is very specific. He says “this entire group” can’t see that the Patriots broke the rules. That means YOU.

Now let’s get to the stories behind the story, the stuff nobody wants to talk about for fear of being exposed. The media is a sordid business. Professional and personal relationships frequently collide. Patriots coach Bill Belichick gives Christmas gifts and holiday cards to some members of the media, cyanide-tipped glares to others. You’re either a Belichicklet or you are not, and there is no base-level membership.

If you’re going to buy in, you have to sell out.

Thanks but no thanks.

Right. Tony’s not going to sell out. I said Tony’s not going to sell out. Really. He’s above all of that material bullsh*t. He would never allow his personal and professional relationships to collide or get involved with a subject he covers. Never.

Whoops. I guess it really is a material world and Tony is a material girl.

As you are a member of the public, we strongly urge you to review all media stories (particularly this continuously developing one) with a cynical and skeptical eye. Try to discern which members of the media show up to work wearing Patriots Super Bowl jackets, and which of your pathetic, repressed middle-aged neighbors wear their Tedy Bruschi jerseys on Sundays.

I think he’s writing about my friend Matt here, but I can’t be sure. Oh wait, Matt has a Vrabel jersey. Can’t be him. Again though, the Herald is just cuddling me in a warm blanket of trust. A pathetic, repressed blanket of truth.

Oh, I see, he’s talking about Glenn Ordway, Pete Sheppard and Fred Smerlas. Do they also qualify as “pathetic, repressed” and “middle-aged?” Check. (according to Tony.)

Meanwhile, take time to wonder if those same neighbors are blogging and posting on message boards while spending hours on hold so they might hear their voices on the radio.

Listen, mom!

Just like karaoke!

Ah…now we’re into it. It’s the bloggers fault!

By the way, Tony would sell his firstborn child for a permanent co-host position on WEEI. When Eddie Andelman left the station, Tony badly wanted the job which eventually went to Bob Neumeier. He was so disgruntled, that he abandoned WEEI and jumped over to 1510 because they would give him more hours. Eventually when 1510 started to go South, he came back to the WEEI fold. I guess Tony likes to hear his voice on the radio too.

If WEEI calls and wants him on the Big Show this afternoon to capitalize on this story, he’ll gladly take the $75/hour (or whatever they’re paying Big Show co-hosts these days) and sit right next to those media members “wearing Patriots Super Bowl jackets.”

Also, isn’t it just amazing how much these bloggers and message board posters get under skin of these media types?

These are the people who preserve the sports fantasy world that justifies their own sorry existence.

Tony goes to the games, watches the athletes play sports, eats well, gets quotes from the athletes, writes snide columns, and gets paid. Who’s living in the sports fantasy world here? For most people sports is a fun subset of their life. They work in the real world. Sports are an escape. For Tony, it is his life. Does Tony feel he leads a sorry existence? Is that what this is about?

Somewhere along the line during this Golden Era of Boston sports, maybe we all went soft. In the past year or so, the Pats have been fined and stripped of a first-round draft pick, had two players arrested for drug possession and another suspended for the use of human growth hormone. Then the Pats went out and lost one of the biggest games in the history of professional sports against a team they were favored to beat by two touchdowns.

How dare anyone criticize them?

Let’s move the goalposts on what the subject is this week. Who said the Patriots couldn’t be criticized? That’s not remotely what this is all about. This outcry is about the fact that Tony’s paper ran a story that wasn’t true…and one they didn’t check their facts on. This isn’t about criticizing the Patriots, it’s about shoddy journalism.

Speaking of which, Convey emphasized the “dedication to accuracy” at the Herald. So much for that. The Patriots didn’t have two players arrested for drug possession this offseason. Kevin Faulk was not arrested. Small point, yes, as Faulk did get in trouble, but this “dedication to accuracy” should dictate that Massarotti and the Herald get their facts straight.

What was the point of this column?

My instinct tells me it’s the Herald capitalizing on the publicity that this whole incident has generated. Tony writes angry column. Fans can’t help but read it. They respond by commenting and talking about it with others. More papers are purchased. More ads are shown online as more pageviews are generated. The comments fly in on the page. People return again and again to read them, creating even more page views and thus ad views. The column gets analyzed on blogs and on sports radio.

Get ready for groundhog day, as the same thing is going to happen tomorrow. Tomase’s explanation of what happened and where the story went wrong is on tap. The paper is teasing it, getting people talking about it, building anticipation.

I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to say. It should be interesting, seeing as how he’s still been playing the antagonist with his reporting this week, even having a post removed from the Point After blog -(the one with the lede about Walsh admitting to spying on the Rams) either by himself or by the higher-ups at the paper. We’re supposed to believe he’s suddenly contrite and humble about the whole thing? I’d like to see Tomase address the issues laid out by Scott Benson. We also should see the source named. We will be waiting to see what he has to say.

Which is exactly what the Herald wants.

Yes, the Herald is orchestrating this whole event so as to capitalize on the publicity. I guess you can’t blame them. If they’re going to get all this attention they might as well make some money off it, right?

Boston Herald Apologizes To Patriots – Is It Enough?

After yesterday’s testimony by Matt Walsh to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Boston Herald has issued an apology for their erroneous story the day before the Super Bowl which said that the Patriots taped the St Louis Rams walkthrough the day before Super Bowl XXXVI. The story caused a nation-wide furor which has continued since that day. Here is the apology:

On Feb. 2, 2008, the Boston Herald reported that a member of the New England Patriots [team stats]’ video staff taped the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI. While the Boston Herald based its Feb. 2, 2008, report on sources that it believed to be credible, we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed.

Prior to the publication of its Feb. 2, 2008, article, the Boston Herald neither possessed nor viewed a tape of the Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI, nor did we speak to anyone who had. We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification.

The Boston Herald regrets the damage done to the team by publication of the allegation, and sincerely apologizes to its readers and to the New England Patriots’ owners, players, employees and fans for our error.

As you can see at the top of this post, the apology is prominently mentioned on both the front and back cover of the Herald.

Is it enough? David Scott has some pretty thorough analysis of the situation over at Scott’s Shots.

Here’s my beef: You certainly remember how, when the whole spygate thing originally went down, and Belichick remained silent on the matter outside of just a single statement? That he steadfastly refused to answer questions about it, no matter how many times they were put to him.

Remember the heat he took for it? He was virtually crucified by the media for not even reading the statement, or addressing it “live” or taking questions about it. Consider some of the comments from that week:

I’m no sports expert.

But I know a coward when I see one. And a coward is what I saw scowling behind the podium Friday at the New England Patriots’ press conference.

Bill Belichick, the legendary coach who demands fearlessness from young men bashed and smashed all over a football field, was too afraid to get the words out of his mouth: “wrong” or “sorry” or “mistake.” Or even “mistakes were made,” the preferred term of 21st century politicians also too afraid to tell the truth.

With the world watching, Belichick hid behind his “statement,” the one he actually deigned to admit he wrote only after two questions in a row about it. But the leader of the gridiron behemoths lacked the courage to read it aloud.

Yeah, that one was from Margery Eagan – of the Boston Herald.

How about this one, which begins:

On behalf of the sports enthusiasts of New England, the Boston Herald today issues the following statement:

While we find formal releases like this to be cold, impersonal and lacking humanity and humility, we felt compelled to address the recent actions of the New England Patriots, one of the most celebrated and supported teams in sports.

So the Herald here is firmly and deliberately placing themselves on the moral high ground to pronounce judgment. Yes, they felt compelled to address the Patriots behavior. Later on in the article, the writer, one Tony Massarotti, says:

In the days immediately following disclosure of the Patriots’ unethical behavior, both Belichick and Kraft issued statements apologizing for the incident and the shame it has brought on our region. We found those admissions to be hollow and completely meaningless. Whatever words the Patriots printed on a sheet of paper and distributed to media outlets throughout the nation, not a single team official has stepped up and said the most important words – “I’m sorry.” Consequently, there has been absolutely no attempt on the part of team officials to explain themselves and show any remorse whatsoever.

Regret, after all, is an emotion. It cannot be replicated or replaced, even by a color laser printer. In any apology or admission, the words are not as important as the feeling behind them, and the written word can frequently come off as corporate, sterile and devoid of all human feeling. (On this matter, the Herald, among other print media outlets, has particular expertise.) In short, we have questions that we had hoped would be answered. Communication is important in any relationship, even one between the followers of a football team and the team itself.

At a time like this, forgive us if we cease being mindless lemmings who have filled football stadiums in Foxboro from September through January since Mr. Kraft took over the franchise.

While we understand that no person or organization is perfect, we have found the events of the last week to be quite troubling because they violate the first rules of human decency. In the end, the only thing that connects us all is our vulnerability. We all make mistakes and we all look to move on at the appropriate time, but not until we all acknowledge that we ultimately share one responsibility.

It’s called accountability.

Unlike the Patriots, we hope to discuss this matter further.

So the Herald was right there in front leading the cries of accountability in the days following spygate, demanding an explanation, wanting more than just a simple, issued statement.

In this current incident, all we’ve gotten is a simple, three paragraph statement, which doesn’t even name John Tomase or the editor responsible for letting the walkthrough story get through.

If a football team is being castigated for not being accountable to society for their actions, how much more should a newspaper, which is held and bound by the ethics of journalism?

The Herald will have to forgive us if we cease being mindless lemmings, who read the paper daily, trusting that due diligence is being done in bringing us the news each day.

The Herald’s apology is also weird on a number of fronts. Yesterday, material was flying on and off the Herald’s website at a dizzying rate. A post from Tomase was removed from the Point After blog, a story was given a number of headlines, the first one focused on Walsh admitting to “spying” on the Rams at the walkthrough, with little emphasis placed on the fact that the event had not been recorded. Headlines were reworked, and the “spying” material taken out.

If they were still sticking to their story and angle, why the sudden changes and then the apology? Did the Patriots statement from yesterday give them a bit of a jolt? Who was the original source, and what does it say about the Herald that they trusted that source enough to run with the original story? It appears we won’t know, since the Herald isn’t talking.

There’s plenty more coverage of this out there, but I’ve already used most of my time here. Check in at PatriotsLinks.com for all the headlines on this subject. Also, over at Patriots Daily, Scott Benson weighs in on the events of the day as well.

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The Red Sox dropped another one last night, this time in Baltimore. Get the news at RedSoxLinks.com.

The Celtics play a crucial game five with the Cavaliers tonight at the Garden. On the BSMW Full Court Press, Matt Richardson and Kevin Henkin team up for some observations on the series. Get your Celtics news and headlines at CelticsLinks.com.