Old News Is Not News (And Neither Are Rumors)

We received an e-mail this past week from one of our readers to which we feel compelled to respond.

The email is as follows:

“Hi…just trying to figure out why your latest newspaper would NOT include any information about Mayor Carlo DeMaria and the sexual harassment allegations…are we just used to sweeping this kind of information under the rug? Please enlighten me.”

The author of the email is referring to the recent story in the Boston Globe in which four women (three of whom are unnamed) make allegations of sexual harassment committed against them by the mayor.

In response to the email writer’s request that we enlighten him, we wish to make a few points.

First and foremost, as regards the only publicly-documented allegation of sexual harassment by a named victim, this newspaper fully covered that matter when it arose nine years ago. (Yes, nine years ago — that is not a typo.) The victim brought an application for criminal complaint against the mayor (who was a member of the Common Council at the time) for indecent assault & battery in his capacity as her employer at a Honey Dew Donuts store. The matter was heard first before a clerk-magistrate, who refused to issue a criminal complaint. The complainant then appealed the clerk-magistrate’s decision to a judge, who likewise felt there was insufficient evidence to issue the complaint after a full hearing. We wrote the news story about this incident fully and completely nine years ago (when it was news). Nothing was swept under the rug.

Second, as for the other allegations in the Globe article by three unnamed women, which likewise happened a number of years ago (though in some of those alleged instances, Carlo DeMaria was mayor), there is nothing in the public record, by way of criminal or civil court filings, or anything similar, for us to report upon.  Unlike the Globe, we are not going to write news stories that are based upon allegations provided by unnamed sources (nor, as the email writer seems to suggest, are we going write a story about a story based on anonymous sources with no support in the public record).

Third, every citizen should realize that the Globe articles say more about the state of journalism at the Globe these days than they do about Mayor DeMaria. It is clear that none of the women called the Globe and it also is clear that the Globe did not, just out of the blue, independently find them. What is left unsaid in the Globe article is who provided the information to the Globe about these allegations and why?  We think the answer lies in the Globe article itself with this statement:  “DeMaria, best known now as the political face and key supporter of Steve Wynn’s $1.6 billion casino proposal for Everett…..”

Really? Carlo DeMaria Jr. has been mayor of Everett, a major city in the Boston metropolitan area, for the past seven years, and the Globe apparently is just discovering that fact now with the casino issue at stake? It is obvious that there is an ulterior motive on the Globe’s part (as well as on the part of whoever got the Globe onto this alleged news story) that has nothing to do with allegations of harassment by Mayor DeMaria and everything to do with the casino issue.

The motive, in our opinion, is to deep-six the plans for the casino in Everett.

For our part, we will not write news stories (and we  would remind our email writer that the word “news” contains the word “new” for a reason) that either have no basis in a public record, or that are based solely on unsubstantiated allegations, or that dredge up long-past information, or that contain all three — as is the case with the recent Boston Globe articles about DeMaria.

The TV show Dragnet was famous for the line by Sgt. Joe Friday (played by Jack Webb): “Just the facts ma’am.” That’s what the newspaper business is all about and that’s what we try our best to do every week. If there’s news based on fact, we’ll report it. But we’ll leave the rumors and allegations to others.

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