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Dershowitz charges Boston Globe of racial double standard

magazine cover
A December 1997 issue of Boston Magazine with Smith (second from left) on the cover   
June 20, 1998
Web posted at: 1:13 a.m. EDT (0513 GMT)

From Correspondent Peg Tyre

BOSTON (CNN) -- The Boston Globe, after firing one of its most prominent columnists this week for acknowledging fabricating people and quotes, is now defending itself against charges of a double standard.

Specifically, The Globe has been accused of protecting Mike Barnicle, a white columnist, while firing Patricia Smith, an African-American, for the same kind of false reporting.

On Friday, Globe columnist Patricia Smith, an award-winning metro columnist known for her elegant writing and tough urban perspective, apologized to her readers and acknowledged fabricating people and quotes in four columns. She resigned from the paper Thursday after being asked to leave.

"From time to time in my metro column, to create the desired impact or slam home a salient point, I attributed quotes to people who didn't exist," Smith wrote in her final column.

The Globe issued a statement of apology, saying each of Smith's transgressions "violates the sacred trust that the Globe has with its readers."

Late Friday, prominent attorney Alan Dershowitz charged the Globe's treatment of Smith as being based on "race, gender and ethnicity."


In a letter faxed to news organizations, Dershowitz details two incidents in which Barnicle made up quotes for his columns and attributed them to people who never said them.

In the first case, in 1970, Dershowitz says Barnicle attributed a racist quote to a Jewish merchant. The merchant successfully sued, and Barnicle paid him $40,000, according to Dershowitz.

In the second incident, in 1990, Dershowitz said Barnicle made up a racial slur that he falsely attributed to Dershowitz. Dershowitz says Barnicle acknowledged that slur in a taped radio show.

Barnicle could not be reached for comment on Dershowitz's criticism.

In response to Dershowitz's allegations, The Globe issued another statement Friday, promising readers a full review of columns by Smith and Barnicle written since January 1996, when a formal review process was set up for all columnists.

That review would not include the two Barnicle columns Dershowitz described since they were written before 1996.

"The Globe believes that the past two days have vividly and painfully demonstrated that the Globe will apply vigorous standards to its employees, and no one will be exempted from those standards," the paper said.

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