By their own admission, WEEI’s Kirk Minihane and Gerry Callahan started going after Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen because he took a swipe at them in a recent column. But regardless of their agenda, and their delight in “taking someone down” — they have uncovered some troubling inconsistencies in Kevin Cullen’s reporting about the Boston marathon bombings.
Cullen has publicly said that he was “a mile away” when the bombs went off, but he also told an interviewer that “he heard something.” And in his columns, without saying he was there, his writing could lead a reader to believe he was. For instance, the day after the bombings in 2013 he wrote, “I saw an older runner wearing high rise pink socks, about to cross the finish line. He was knocked to the ground.” If Cullen was referencing the widely seen video capturing the explosion, he doesn’t say. And in Cullen’s recent column on the fifth anniversary of the bombings he writes: “I happened upon a house fire recently, in Mattapan, and the smell reminded me of Boylston Street five years ago.” He goes on to say, “I can hear it, whenever multiple fire engines or ambulances are racing to a scene. I can taste it, when I’m around a campfire and embers create a certain sensation.”
But beyond that, Kirk and Callahan have accused Cullen of wholesale fabrication. For instance they say he made up a story about a firefighter who picked up bombing victim Jane Richards off the street that day. We now know that account as told by Cullen is inconsistent with the facts. It’s quite possible that Cullen unintentionally included information that later proved inaccurate, and there is no evidence he was purposefully deceitful. Also, the WEEI duo have made their own problematic claims against Cullen. For example, they take an excerpt from an HBO documentary where Cullen appears to be saying he heard Krystle Campbell’s “death wail.” However, they edited out Cullen’s set up where says he heard the sights and sounds of the bombing on video and audio evidence that was presented at the marathon bombing trial in 2015.
Still, one might dismiss Minihane and Callahan as pushing a vendetta, but it’s not as easy to dismiss the question they’ve raised. And it’s one the Boston Globe appears to be taking seriously as well. In an editor’s note released Friday afternoon, Globe Editor Brian McGrory says: “The integrity of each of our journalists is fundamental to our organization. In light of questions that have publicly surfaced, Kevin Cullen has been placed on paid administrative leave while a thorough examination, involving a third party with expertise, is done of his work. We will be transparent with the results of the review.”