The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966. These selections, culled from our back files, were compiled by Dan Peleschuk, Ian Sands, and Eva Wolchover.
Silent treatment | 5 years ago | October 26, 2001 | Dan Kennedy found the media was holding its tongue on the issue of electoral corruption in Florida.
“So, did George W. Bush really win the presidency? Or was Al Gore cheated out of his rightful victory in Florida? In the post–September 11 world, the contested 2000 election seems like a dusty historical artifact. Bush has, for the most part, been reassuringly steady in the early days of the war on terrorism. And Gore himself recently said, ‘We are united behind our President Bush.’
“But the truth — especially about something as important as a presidential election — has intrinsic value. Which is why it’s distressing to learn that the media consortium recounting the Florida ballots (the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and CNN, among others) has put its million-dollar-plus project on hold.
“The recount was suspended with little comment in the media. Eric Boehlert recently wrote a detailed piece for Salon in which he suggested that the consortium members were spooked by the notion of undermining the commander-in-chief at a time of national crisis; but there’s been damn little elsewhere. . . .
“Bush is the president. That’s not going to change. But the mess in Florida was an ugly episode. Bush entered the White House despite having lost the popular vote nationwide by 500,000 ballots, and despite no one’s having any real idea who won Florida. It’s important that the record be set straight, if only to reduce the chance of such a thing happening again.”
Race train | 10 years ago | October 25, 1996 | Amid charges of racism and violence at Amtrak, Sarah McNaught reported on the company’s attempts to remedy the situation.
“In the wake of a Phoenix report two weeks ago (‘Hate Train,’ October 11), Amtrak has launched internal investigations into 16 incidents of racism and violence at the engineering division of the company’s Boston commuter-rail operation, which it runs under contract for the MBTA.
“Documents obtained by the Phoenix, as well as interviews with several workers, revealed a 10-year pattern of public humiliation and physical assault, as well as racist jokes, slogans and posters.
“Amtrak’s initial reaction, the day after the Phoenix report appeared, was to assemble a task force of four executives from the company’s Northeast headquarters in Philadelphia. The task force spent three and a half days in Boston interviewing workers about the incidents in the story, and is responsible for preparing a plan of action for dealing with racism and violence in the company. . . .
“[Senator John] Kerry, for his part, was notified about the problems at the engineering division this past April, and followed up with a letter of inquiry to Amtrak. But the senator has not responded to several calls from the Phoenix about the recent developments, and Kerry campaign spokesperson Larry Cartman could say only, ‘The senator’s staff are following this.’ Cartman says he is going to suggest to Kerry’s staff that the Justice Department be informed of the incident at Amtrak.