Correction: Fox News called John Boehner, not Nancy Pelosi, a lush. We regret the error.
Correction II: Boston.com, not Fox news, called John Boehner, not Nancy Pelosi, a lush. We regret the error.
[We’re just trying to get hired by Boston.com]
A Boston.com story that made light of a threat against House Speaker John Boehner has drawn the ire of the Ohio congressman, prompting an apology from the website.
Posted online Tuesday night, the story suggested that Boehner has a drinking problem and asked whether anyone would have noticed if Boehner had been poisoned. That comment was in reference to news that a former bartender at an Ohio country club where Boehner is a member has been arrested for allegedly threatening to kill the congressman.
“Stories about Boehner’s drinking have circulated for years,” wrote Victor Paul Alvarez, one of a handful of associate editors at Boston.com, in a passage that has since been removed from the website. “Had he been poisoned as planned, perhaps his pickled liver could have filtered out the toxins.”
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, fired back in an e-mail Wednesday.
“I would have thought it would be obvious to any sentient human being that your item mocking the threats against the speaker and his family was completely insensitive and inappropriate,” Steel wrote. “Should you wish to offer an explanation, or – better – an apology, feel free to respond.”
Mike Sheehan, the chief executive of Boston Globe Media Partners LLC, said he spoke with Boehner’s office and sent a note of apology Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s very difficult to hit the epicenter of tasteless, mean-spirited, and humorless in one fell swoop,” Sheehan said in an interview.
In a statement released Wednesday, Boston.com general manager Corey Gottlieb said the Alvarez piece did not reflect the site’s values.
“The original column made references to Speaker Boehner that were off-color and completely inappropriate,” Gottlieb wrote. “We are sorry, and we will do better.”
Boston.com is owned by Boston Globe Media Partners LLC but operates independently from The Boston Globe and BostonGlobe.com.
“There is a really fine line between tongue in cheek . . . and what’s unfair or hurtful,” Gottlieb said, but Alvarez’s story clearly crossed that line. He declined to say whether Alvarez would be disciplined for the story.
Since threatening the life of a Republican is hardly news (until the culprit is awarded a Nobel Peace Prize), you may not have heard:
Last October, Hoyt allegedly told police he was going to kill Boehner, who he claimed was responsible for the spread of Ebola.
Hoyt allegedly said he planned to shoot Boehner and suggested he could poison one of his drinks.
Freedom of the press trumps all to me, so if the snide comment was in an opinion piece, I would defend it from the outside, even if I would have spiked it from the inside. (I run a blog, not a supposedly respectable news site. As editor the latter, I would never have allowed it, even if I might have written something like that here.)
But then, it has to go both ways. You can’t make fun of Boehner’s liver and Sarah Palin’s special needs son, and not let me have a go at Obama’s nicotine addiction, Pelosi’s Botox addiction, and John Kerry’s John Kerry addiction.