believes that only Republicans detest the press should have checked the scene
outside Boston City Hall today. Maybe reporters aren’t as biased as talk-radio blowhards
allege; in the wake of City Councilor Chuck Turner’s arrest, even liberals who cheer
when we expose right-wing tomfoolery are tormenting us like Howie Carr does union
Like any shrewd
politician, Turner knows when to manipulate the media and when to blast us; and
he simultaneously did both this afternoon in front of several dozen journalists
and droves of eager loyalists. But before doing so, the secondary object of Turner’s
aggression, City Council President Maureen Feeney, used a similar tactic.
Feeney got the
jump on Turner’s 2:30pm Government
Center rally with a 1pm
press conference in City Hall’s Curley Room. At the onset she indicated that
she respects Turner’s right to claim innocence, but soon after iterated that the
current situation and FBI investigation compromise his councillorship.
was mostly clear: Neither she nor her peers will negotiate Turner’s future at
this juncture. Still, her attempt to defend the hypocritical decision to preemptively
strip Turner of his committee assignments caused her to fumble some.
It’s good that
Turner’s representatives relayed Feeney’s blunders to him. Her implication that
she canceled this afternoon’s council meeting because his supporters might “turn the session into something that it is not” is absolutely noteworthy – even
if she subsequently denied the statement and blamed the press for provoking her
fear of pandemonium.
I only wish
Turner’s informants also told him that several reporters questioned Feeney about
her double talk. Since nobody delivered that message, though, Turner challenged
the press to confront her as if we’d bought her nonsense wholesale. It seems journalists
are not the only ones who are merely interested in half the story.
with Feeney’s calling off today’s meeting, Turner stepped to his crowd as
planned. Even before a working microphone arrived, he launched into a condemnation
of his colleagues and the pad-and-camera-wielding culprits who he deems responsible
for his predicament.
The crowd was
energized. Everyone expected fireworks, as the councilor’s operatives circulated
an announcement declaring war against the media. “My main concern is that I am
not being tried by a jury of my peers, I am being tried by the Globe, the Herald, Fox News, Channel 7, Channel 5, etc…,” Turner wrote and
went on to say.
rang loudly. Some folks belted pro-Chuck chants, while others were noticeably angrier.
When it became obvious that the sound system was busted, one participant
suggested that evildoers “Stop controlling the truth and let him be heard.” “Get
him a mic,” another person yelled.
reacted enthusiastically as Turner spoke about his dedication to constituents
and objective to “liberate [his] people.” But the heaviest roars came when the
councilor attacked reporters for harassing his family to the point that he had
to call police yesterday. Turner even blamed the media for forgetting to zip
his pants this morning.
For the record –
many “employees of rich media corporations” understand why so many people are
enraged. Some of us have indeed dropped unfavorable opinions about the circling
scandals. The remaining question is if Turner’s supporters will in turn understand
the inevitable backlash that results when politicians refer to journalists as “criminals.”
In a line that I’m
sure will be remembered long after this ordeal is over, Turner said: “Obviously,
the press is working to publicly destroy my reputation before I even have an
opportunity to have a day in court. Since I am being tried by the media and my
fellow Councilors, I have made the decision to publicly defend myself. That is
I will act as my own lawyer in this media trial in which I find myself.”
I can’t speak
for other reporters in this city, but I’m willing to face Turner in his
metaphorical courtroom. The only problem is that he already acquitted himself by
predicting that he might go down for a crime he did not commit. In his eyes,
and as far as many of his devotees are concerned, he’ll emerge a persecuted martyr
regardless of whether he’s found guilty in the court of law or the court of
As for his
battle with Feeney, so far it looks like Turner might be winning that bout too.
Not just because of her unilateral move to strip his committee assignments, but
because of her piss-poor justification for doing so. Few would disagree –
including those of us who are out to ruin Turner for no reason whatsoever –
that he saw Feeney’s soft spot and stuck his finger in it.
This is one shit fight that holiday spirit will not blow over. If you’re a
member of the media or a citizen who’s interested in or concerned about Turner
and the fate of black leadership in this city, the only thing to look forward
to is a 10-way winter war and accusatory hail storm that will most likely last
well into next year. Dress warmly. This one promises to be contentious and quarrelsome.