Mike Barnicle, Fraud and Plagiarist, Helps Guide America Through Baseball’s Era of Shame

Speaking of baseball and its scandals , the other big question I keep hearing from people who did watch Ken Burns’ “Tenth Inning” is: why did Burns give so much screen time to the cheaters? Not the baseball players—the baseball experts.

Was it some sort of subtextual commentary on the era of steroid cheats that Burns turned to Mike Barnicle to talk about the Red Sox? While we’re having history lessons: long ago, back when Roger Clemens was still pitching for Boston, Mike Barnicle was a columnist for the Boston Globe. Does anyone know why he is not a columnist for the Boston Globe anymore?

I wish that were just a rhetorical question. But since Mike Barnicle keeps showing up on people’s televisions and talking about stuff , apparently it isn’t. Mike Barnicle had to stop being a columnist for the Boston Globe because he got caught plagiarizing and fabricating, over and over again . And because he lied about it.


Mike Barnicle is a fraud and a liar . He didn’t even have the excuse of being in over his head and strung out on drugs, like Jayson Blair. He had a nice, easy columnist spot. He fabricated and plagiarized because he was lazy and dishonest , and because he had contempt for his $200,000-a-year job and his readers.

Inviting Mike Barnicle to talk about what the Red Sox mean to Boston is like inviting Janet Cooke to discuss the problem of drug abuse among young people. He wasn’t even a sportswriter, unless you count the time he ripped off a joke from George Carlin about the pope giving baseball scores.

Barnicle’s speedy crawl out of his journalistic grave has been one of the great ongoing mysteries of the business. He stole and he made stuff up, and he writes for Time magazine . Time magazine doesn’t care if a person steals or makes stuff up. He’s all over MSNBC. MSNBC doesn’t care. Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews don’t care about hanging out with a liar and a fraud and letting him talk to their viewers.

Joan Walsh, over at Salon, offered a theory about why Burns gave Barnicle the chance to talk:


Barnicle’s professional troubles are never mentioned, but more remarkably, to my knowledge no media report has made the connection between Barnicle’s star turn and the role of his wife, Anne Finucane, the Bank of America chief marketing officer credited with the B of A’s sponsorship of “Tenth Inning.” Finucane’s role is no secret; she’s been quoted about the bank’s Burns partnership and photographed at gala events with the filmmaker. But it’s undisclosed within the project, and given Barnicle’s (to me questionable) centrality to “Tenth Inning,” something there feels off.

That wouldn’t explain why Burns also dredged up

Harvard historian and plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin

to share her own thoughts about the Sox. Walsh was too busy celebrating Goodwin as one of the only two women to appear in the new segment to bring up the fact that, like Barnicle, Goodwin completely violated the standards of her profession and more or less got away with it.

Why didn’t Burns go ahead and bring out

Patricia Smith

while he was at it? Or the

Bulger brothers

? Barnicle might be able to

help out

with that one.