In the old days, that was sound advice — don’t get into public arguments with newspapers. With the explosion of new forms of media, it’s still pretty good advice — especially when the guy who doesn’t like you is a newspaper columnist AND a radio talk-show host who’s syndicated around New England, AND who arranges for his radio show to be streamed on the internet.
Such a guy is Howie Carr. Howie is a long-time “ink-stained wretch,” a newspaper guy from way, way back. He also dabbled in TV news and commentary, and has had his own talk show for a good ten years or so. Howie knows pretty much all the dirt around Massachusetts politics, and has absolutely no compunction about sharing his knowledge. And he shares it in every way he can find — despite his public persona as a bit of a technological Luddite, he’s pretty much up on the web.
Lair Simon briefly used the tag line “Piss me off, and I’ll name a subdomain after you.” He’s done Dear Abby Is Full Of Crap, Arianna Huffington IFOC, Saddam Hussein IFOC, Yassir Arafat IFOC, John Kerry IFOC, George Bush IFOC, and Tom DeLay IFOC.
Howie does it one better: he puts up whole domains about those he despises.
Boston’s mayor is a truly miserable hack, as well as borderline incoherent in public. Years ago Howie stuck Thomas M. Menino with the name “Mumbles,” inspired by the Dick Tracy villain, and it’s stuck like a thorn in Menino’s paw. Recently, as he ran for his fourth term as Boston’s mayor (he ran the first time on a vow to serve no more than two terms), his campaign bought up all the variants of his name and nickname they could think of to keep his detractors from using them.
But they missed one. Howie and his gang grabbed it, and plastered it with every horrifying, hilarious sound bite they could get their hands on.
But Mumbles is local, small potatoes. Massachusetts has two Senators who have national prominence, and Howie can’t stand either of them.
Years ago, when John Kerry was struggling to make his mark and get outside the considerable shadow of Massachusetts’ senior senator, started showing up on local news programs at the drop of the hat. It was almost impossible to turn into an evening newscast without seeing some kind of comment from Senator Kerry. Howie hung the nickname “Liveshot” on him, and it’s stuck ever since. And that’s wwhere Howie’s “tribute” to the failed 2004 Democratic presidential nominee got its name.
Finally, there’s that Senior Senator mentioned above. Howie has a special loathing for Ted Kennedy. Others have referred to Edward Moore Kennedy (named after Edward Moore, the family chauffeur) as “Senator Splash” or “Chappaquiddick Ted,” among others, but Howie goes for the simple whenever possible And he’s collected as much dirt on Teddy as he has, and stuck it all on a very special tribute page.
Forget the “buys in by the barrel.” Nowadays, it’s a microphone and a web site that you need to fear.