Boston Globe denies blocking comments due to criticism of John Henry for White House visit

Alex Reimer
May 08, 2019 - 4:01 pm

The Boston Globe has blocked numerous comments to its articles about the Red Sox’ upcoming White House visit, including some that don’t appear to violate any editorial standards, unless one counts being critical of team owner and publisher John Henry as inappropriate. 

Northeastern journalism professor Dan Kennedy published on his blog Wednesday three comments on Globe White House stories that have been blocked. Two of them were sent over by the commenter, “Sam the Man,” who Kennedy says used his real name in their exchange. 

Both comments criticize Henry for green-lighting the visit in blunt, albeit fairly civil terms –– at least as far as Internet comments are concerned.

“I have less respect now for Henry, who has set up a divisive situation by agreeing in that there is now a racial division on the team,” the first comment reads. “Henry should back off, and if he doesn’t he’s no better than Trump butt-kisser Kraft.”

The second blocked comment from “Sam the Man” refers to Donald Trump as the “liar-in-chief” before saying Henry is allowing himself to be “manipulated.”

Kennedy identified a third censored message, from “Thoughtful1,” which called out Henry for being hypocritical in regards to Trump. “Note to John Henry: actions speak louder than words. Your newspaper condemns Trump’s divisive policies but now you are going to kiss his ring,” it reads. “You condemned the alleged racism of Tom Yawkey but where you have a chance to make a statement about the bigoted rhetoric of the President of the United States, you have chosen to back off.”

In a statement to Kennedy, the Globe says a third-party service edits its comments, and the screeds in question were flagged due to their inclusion of personal attacks.

“These comments were removed because they included personal attacks on an individual, which is a violation of our comment guidelines,” the statement reads. “While our guidelines allow for more leniency against public figures, attacks against a person’s morality (for example, the use of “Liar-in-Chief”) are against our standards.”

So the Globe is saying attacks against Trump, and not Henry, are the reason at least one of the comments was deleted. The third blocked comment, however, does not appear to contain any personal shots against anybody.

A brief perusal around the Globe’s comment section indicates blocking comments appears to be a regular practice at the paper. There are multiple shielded messages in a news story about Trump exerting executive privilege over the Mueller Report, for example.

It’s also worth noting the Globe has published several critical columns about the Sox’ White House trip, including one this week from Adrian Walker, in which he calls ownership disingenuous for claiming to support inclusion while visiting Trump.