Friday, October 25, 2002

Let 100 papers bloom II. No sooner had I posted an item yesterday praising Boston Herald publisher Pat Purcell for letting his community-newspaper editors endorse the Green Party's Jill Stein than I heard from two fellow pundits criticizing me for such naivete. Didn't I realize that Purcell was doing everything he could to undermine Democrat Shannon O'Brien? Since Republican Mitt Romney is presumably anathema in Boston's most liberal suburbs, Purcell obviously directed a few strategically placed Stein endorsements as a backhanded way of helping Romney.

A perfect conspiracy theory -- but wrong. Greg Reibman, the editor-in-chief of Purcell's Community Newspaper Company Metro Unit, tells me that the Brookline Tab has already endorsed O'Brien. (Again, no evidence on the Brookline section of CNC's Town Online website. Nor has the O'Brien-Gabrieli campaign noted it on its website, which is just stupid.) Reibman adds that the three papers that have already endorsed Stein -- the Cambridge Chronicle, the Newton Tab, and the Needham Tab -- chose to do so before last night's debate, since that is likely to be Stein's last extended television appearance. Most of the rest of CNC's 100 papers, he says, will publish their endorsements next week.

Another CNC source tells me he expects that of the 19 papers Purcell owns in the northwest suburbs, five or six will probably wind up endorsing O'Brien. "This time around," he e-mails, "CNC has been given TOTAL editorial freedom to endorse or even not to endorse if editors choose, although some editors have worked together on endorsements to save on time while others localize their endorsements."

There are times, it seems, when it's possible to be too cynical.

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