Friday, March 26, 2004

BARNICLE APOLOGIZES. Boston Herald columnist Mike Barnicle today apologized on his WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) program for using the word "Mandingo" on Tuesday in referring to the marriage of former secretary of defense William Cohen, who's white, and former Boston television news personality Janet Langhart, who's black.

I didn't hear the original reference on Tuesday. This morning, though, Barnicle said he was referring to an old movie of that name about the marriage of a white man and a black woman, that he's friends with Langhart and knows Cohen slightly, and that he meant no offense.

The only film I could find at the Internet Movie Database called Mandingo was this one, made in 1975. According to the description, "A slave owner in the 1840s trains one of his slaves to be a bare-knuckle fighter, unaware that his wife is demanding from his champion services of a different kind." Not quite the same thing. And check out this user comment:

Like titillating porn, Mandingo is the kind of film you rent and hope no one you know is looking. Then you hurry home, lower the blinds, make sure the kids are in bed, then turn on the VCR in anticipation. This film is so politically incorrect it's worth it on that merit alone! Black and white stereotypes are played up to the hilt and everybody is running around "pleasuring" any thing that moves.

Nice! Well, maybe Barnicle was thinking of another movie called Mandingo. Is there one?

Anyway, Media Log's instant analysis is that Barnicle was an idiot to toss off a racially charged term like "Mandingo" (which he essentially acknowledged); that he's a recidivist (he recently referred to an Iranian actress and an African-born actor as "terrorists"); but that his apology at least puts him ahead of his 'TKK colleague Jay Severin, who uses terms like "wetback" and "towelhead" without consequence.

We'll be kicking this around later today on Greater Boston, on WGBH-TV (Channel 2) at 7 p.m.

CLOSED QUARTERS. Jack Wilson might prove that he's a terrific choice as the new president of UMass, but the process, or lack thereof, reeked. Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh explains why.

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