Curious timing at the Times
Must be tough going through life with a neon sign over your head, like "former White House intern" or "Big Dig contractor," one that the mainstream media can light up when it suits their purposes.
When the Cape Cod Times reported last week that "Big Dig big shot" Jay Cashman wants to build the Cape Wind project, Cashman was described as "a major player in the Big Dig project in Boston, and his 2,000 employees have worked on some of the state's most critical construction projects.
"He already had contracts worth $2 billion for the Central Artery and tunnel contracts that went back a decade before he absorbed rival Modern Continental last September," the story went on to say.
"His company has also handled the country's largest-ever dump capping, on Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor, overseen substantial projects on Deer Island and, closer to Cape Cod, dredged 40,000 cubic yards of soil near the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth," the story reads. "One thing he's never done, though, is erect a wind turbine. That will change when the company helps raise a turbine at Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, where Cashman also rebuilt the academy's crumbling pier along the edge of the Cape Cod Canal."
And that's as far as the story goes in describing Cashman's work on the Big Dig.
Yet on Friday, a few days after the story ran, Anne Brennan, assistant metro editor for news at the Times, was a guest on Mindy Todd's weekly radio news roundup on WCAI-FM in Woods Hole.
Brennan gave a brief description of Cashman's work on the Big Dig and the first question from Todd, dutiful journalist that she is, was this:
Todd: "Now of course, Modern Continental, there was a lot of controversy with the Big Dig, was that before his time?"
Brennan: "Well, he purchased the company about a year ago, so it was after the work that was done on the tunnel and that's, I guess, the controversy was whether they did substandard work and they're behind the leaks in the tunnel. It's apparently, from what we understand, it was subsequent, ah, it was prior to him purchasing the company."
Todd: "So more to come on this one."
Whoa, did Brennan say "it was prior to him purchasing the company"? (and in answer to my own question, yes, she did, because I taped the show and at this point have listened to the conversation several times).
Does it strike anyone else that this bit of information is, ah, what's the word I'm looking for - relevant - to a story about Cashman?
And the reason I have not until now mentioned the names of the reporters who wrote the story - David Schoetz and Kevin Dennehy - is that for all any reader knows, they mentioned Cashman's lack of involvement with the tunnel problems and it was edited out.
Or it could be that the reporters were not aware of this aspect of Cashman's background when the story first ran on Sept. 27. But Brennan was clearly aware of it three days later when she appeared on Todd's show and, as previously mentioned, it was the first thing that Todd asked about.
I'll give the editors at the Times the benefit of a doubt - the information wasn't available when the story ran. But in fairness to Cashman - after all, this is a man's reputation we're talking about - this was not a next-day story anyway. The Patriot Ledger in Quincy ran the same story in late August.
Then there is always the more sinister interpretation - can't help it, I used to work there - which is that the information was in the story and edited out for not aligning with the Times' vehement opposition to the wind farm.
Since in the view of the Times' editorial board, Cape Wind's Jim Gordon is an unscrupulous money-grubber who wants nothing more than to defile the fair maiden off our southern shores, anyone who does business with him is just as bad. And what better way to impugne the reputation of someone willing to associate with Gordon than by tattooing "Big Dig big shot" on his forehead while holding off on information that might make him look good.
Then again, maybe there's a follow-up story in the works at the Times to point out, based on what Brennan said Friday, that the leaky Big Dig tunnel had nothing to do with Cashman.
But you're not holding your breath on that, are you?
(as published at winfarmblog)