It was ten days ago that Howard “Howie” Carr published a scathing article attacking the Bulger family entitled, “Whitey In the Dock.” He is a talented scribe, no doubt about that. He also fails to disclose that he is scheduled to testify in the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger.
In this article, Carr employs dramatic and biting language, noting how “…the 83 year-old Alcatraz alum isn’t the only one on trial in the federal courthouse…” He asserts that this is not only the Trial of Whitey Bulger but instead, “The local FBI office, which aided and abetted Whitey’s reign of terror, is also in the cross hairs.” He also suggests that “on trial in the federal courthouse” is another surprise defendant: “the state’s Democratic political establishment…”
Previously, I pointed out the flaws in Jeff Jacoby’s argument that, “Political Elite Should Shun Bill Bulger,” as well as the false headline stating that William Bulger is a “mob boss” currently standing trial, and suggesting that he is a “ruthless murderer.” Now, Howard further claims that the Massachusetts “Democratic establishment” is something which William Bulger “ruled with an iron fist in his almost two decades as the state Senate president.” Then, Carr asks the Reader to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: William Bulger worked with John McCormack, and John McCormack was in Washington, DC because he happened to be Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Like former Boston Mayor and U.S. Ambassador to Vatican City, Ray Flynn, McCormack was from South Boston. Like William Bulger, McCormack was also an army veteran. Next, Carr reveals that J. Edgar Hoover was the FBI Director who also had his own office headquarters in Washington, DC. Please note that Carr does not appear to go so far as to suggest that Pope John Paul II was involved with Whitey Bulger. However, Carr has made connections between Whitey and Georgetown University Law School Professor, former U.S. Representative, and former Dean of Boston College Law School, Father Robert Drinan.
McCormack also allegedly “kept close watch over Whitey during his 1956-1965 stint in prison.” Now, if we just established that McCormack was based in Washington, DC, how did he keep “close watch” over Bulger, incarcerated in San Francisco’s infamous Alcatraz Island? On top of that, Howard also points out that while Whitey was serving time there, “he took massive amounts of LSD in the CIA’s infamous drug experiments.” Now if McCormack and Director Hoover had this “close watch” over him, why was Bulger subjected to these types of experiments? Or perhaps that was why he had the great privilege of being fed acid like candy, as Carr depicts here?
Then Carr starts talking about convicted FBI agent John Connolly but refuses to refer to him by name; instead, he calls him “Zip” — not to be confused with the song from Mary Poppins. Like a page taken right out of his nonfiction books, Howie gives us “Whitey,” Stevie “Rifleman” Flemmi, and John “Hitman” Martorano, as Carr entitled his book about Martorano’s life. Published last year, the full title is: Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger’s Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld. On the cover, Bill O’Reilly even wrote his own enthusiastic endorsement declaring, “Howie Carr weaves a frightening tale of unlawful conduct, and it’s all true!”
However, it was also ten days ago that Martorano, who openly confessed to killing 20 people, “…testified that he split a $110,000 advance with Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr, who wrote on Martorano’s life. The killer testified that the title — “Hitman” — was Carr’s idea, not his.” Martorano said that he was no hitman and merely murdered people free of charge to help out his friends, noting the following about Carr choosing the title, Hitman: “He thought it would sell better.”
The following day, Carr penned a reply, declaring, “And by the way, Johnny was absolutely correct on the witness stand yesterday. I did name the biography about him “Hitman” — actually, it was one of my neighbors in Florida. And yes, it is named ‘Hitman’ because I thought that title would sell more.” Not to judge a book by its cover, but when its cover isn’t even true, what else is in a book with its higher purpose being to “sell more” and “sell better”?
Of course, Carr had to support Martorano, or else he could be on the hook for perjury, which could even taint his entire testimony. Some may know about one expression used by the courts: “Falsus in unum, falsus in omnia.” In other words, false in one thing, false in all. So Howard proudly announced that his book title was just a big marketing strategy. What does this suggest about his other books? In the beginning, there was Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century, which suggests that William Bulger somehow conspired with James to “terrorize” Boston. Now, was that title worded to “sell more,” too?
Bear in mind that this is in spite of the gentle and welcoming reception of Bill Bulger at former Governor and U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci’s funeral service recently. Perhaps Mayor Menino was frightened of Bill Bulger, and that’s why he was seen on camera with him? The view which Carr espouses suggests as much. Most recently, Carr also published Rifleman: The Untold Story of Stevie Flemmi, Whitey Bulger’s Partner, released just over a month before the James Bulger trial began.
As the facts indicate, William Bulger hardly “ruled with an iron fist” and disagreed with his Democratic colleagues on many issues. Readers of his memoir, While the Music Lasts, will be given a tour of numerous episodes in which William Bulger disagreed with his colleagues. For example, he disagreed with then-serving U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) on the issue of forced busing in the 1970’s. Democrat William Keating (D-MA), who once served in the State Senate and now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives, even attempted a coup against Bulger on another occasion.
In addition to his book earnings and advances, Howard Carr reportedly secured a $7 million five-year contract with WRKO, his radio station. Yet he wanted more money by 2010 and began to act out before he was suspended by his employer, WRKO, for “publicly and repeatedly using his program to bad-mouth the station.” Ultimately, Carr even filed a lawsuit claiming he was a victim of “indentured servitude” and sought to be released from his $1 million annual contract. Yet, he has often criticized William Bulger’s $900,000 severance package and $200,000 annual state pension. As noted above, Carr’s WRKO yearly salary alone was more than 7 times what William Bulger ultimately collected after his own nearly four decades in public service, when he chose to leave his position as UMass President.
When did this all begin? It was one rainy morning in Room 2154 of the Rayburn Office Building in Washington, DC. The date was June 19, 2003 – a decade ago. That was the day that William Bulger appeared before the House Committee on Government Reform and answered questions about the whereabouts of his brother. Video footage of the hearing shows what appears to be Carr signaling and mouthing phrases to members of Congress during the hearing, particularly when William Bulger was being questioned by U.S. Representative Dan Burton (R-IN).
On that occasion, William Bulger unequivocally stated that he did not know where his brother was, as noted in a prior entry. His words were, “I do not know where my brother is. I do not know where he has been over the past 8 years. I have not aided James Bulger in any way while he has been a fugitive. Do I possess information that could lead to my brother’s arrest? The honest answer is no.”
During more than one somber dialog about murders committed by members of the Winter Hill gang, drug dealing, and “gun running,” Carr’s face wandered from smirking gleefully, to what appeared to be signalling to members of the Committee, to sticking out his tongue, to vainly trying to reposition his combover.
It was that hearing which launched Howie Carr’s crime author career, and one cannot help but wonder what else he would do to “sell more.” The motive is obvious: Money.
Is that why he couldn’t stop smiling?