In this week's Phoenix, I size up the ongoing feud between Herald columnist Howie Carr and "Ernie Boch, III," his mysterious Blue Mass. Group-based tormentor. (Note: EB3, as he's frequently called, is no relation to car magnate Ernie Boch, Jr.) In the process, I argue that Carr doesn't really seem to understand his nemesis--and that, despite some strong ideological and biographical differences between the two, there are some noteworthy similarities as well.
While I was working on the piece, EB3 and I conversed a bit over email. Here's an edited transcript of our conversation. (Carr didn't respond to a request for comment.)
DQM You recently made a piquant distinction between your M.O. and Howie's that I didn't quite get. Can you elaborate on what you meant?
EB3 I only attack people willingly in the spotlight and for their actions in these roles. Have I crossed the line? Sure. I have regrets. I think I’ve written some things about Mrs. Sal DiMasi, Jarrett Barrios, and Michele McPhee that probably went to far. But for the most part I just crack wise at some local political or media type who deserves it. What I don’t do is hit people below the belt over and over and over and over again when they’re down because their’s or family members’ personal mistakes, frailties, and weaknesses.
DQM Had you been contemplating a Carr boycott before his column on Judge Thomas Connolly?
No. Not at all. I was actually getting ready to post on the proposed residential and commercial development of land smack in the middle of Fells Reservation. This is a tragedy whose significance I don’t think many, including the governor, understand. The governor’s office has green-lighted it after rightfully being held up for years by the previous Republican administrations.But the Howie’s column on Judge Connolly got me sidetracked. I’ve always believed that the majority of Bostonians find Howie not polite to the point of being shameless. He has been showcasing this act for over three decades. Nothing to do with his political beliefs. Simply the unnecessary and constant personal barrages he’s paid good money via advertising dollars to unleash. This isn’t about Ted Kennedy or Tom Menino or Jane Swift.. This is about common decency and the private lives he drags in to his web. At least I try. Without of course sacrificing humor for the feelings of a public figure who needs to be tickled.
DQM As Howie mentioned in his column firing back at you, a successful boycott could, in theory, get him off WRKO and free him up to go to WTKK, which he's wanted all along. In fact, his last line was: "Good luck, 'Ernie.' If you can get me out of here, you’re a better man than me. So go ahead, make my day. Please. I beg you." Does that give you pause?
EB3 Well, by definition the boycott would follow him to his new station. That is why I listed WTKK 96.9 and WRKO on the list to call and complain about Howie. The idea is to get Howie off of a major media radio outlet.
DQM Howie really played up the "moonbat" angle in his column--but as a fan of your work, I know that description isn't quite right. In fact, back in '06, your comments about Deval's supporters--cultlike, far-left kool aid drinkers, etc.--were actually a bit Howie Carr-ish. How do you identify yourself, politically?
EB3 Politically moderate not committed to anything and always willing to listen to the facts. Like many I am a Democrat upset with what has happened to the Party over the last few decades.I started blogging at Blue Mass Group because it was a terrific opportunity to bug people. It did not disappoint. I was considering blogging the Paris, Texas High School Football Team Blog. You know, bug the Friday Night Lights people and tell them their football team sucks. Couldn’t run the option if their lives depended on it. Blah blah blah. But those Texans carry guns. Blue Mass. Group is safer. They just carry pepper spray. Some of the guys carry rape whistles (just kidding). Because as everyone knows I am an anonymous blogger.
I should stress my appreciation to Blue Mass. Group, a/k/a Charley, David and Bob [the site's editors]. They have not stifled me. Kudos to them.
DQM Why’d you pick a handle that honors Ernie Boch Jr.?EB3 I think it was Dan Kennedy's blog about four years ago. I was commenting on something I read and the Ernie Boch, III signature made the comment funny. At least I thought so. Something to do with privilege perhaps? Anyway, I was so proud of myself for thinking of it I used it again when I signed on at Blue Mass. Group. The funny thing is I've never attacked, or mentioned for that matter, Ernie Boch, Jr. in my postings.
DQM A commenter at BMG responded to Globe columnist Joan Vennochi’s piece on the feud by casting your fight with Howie as a kind of archetypal old media-new media struggle. Do you see it that way?EB3 No. I just see it as something that needs to be done and I'm just the cartoon character to do it. All I ask is if people feel the same way as I do about Howie and want to use this as a teaching moment for what our free-thinking community finds acceptable in local major media outlets, then they should let Howie’s financial supporters know how they feel. Think of this anti-Howie movement as sorbet cleansing the protest palate in between more important courses.