ABC and NBC Refuse to ID Party of Mobster’s Brother, ‘Celebrated Star of Massachusetts Politics’

The ABC and NBC evening newscasts have focused stories on Billy Bulger, the long-time Massachusetts Democratic political hack who is the younger brother of just-captured reputed mass-murdering Mobster Whitey Bulger, but both refused to identify Billy Bulger’s party affiliation. (The CBS Evening News has, so far, not even mentioned Billy.)

“While Whitey Bulger was running a gang, his brother was a celebrated star of Massachusetts politics,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer trumpeted on Thursday night. On Friday night, NBC forwarded MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell to vouch that Billy had no information about the whereabouts of his fugitive brother while Jeff Rossen marveled: “Just as investigators say Whitey was ordering hits, his brother, Billy Bulger, was rising in state government, President of the Massachusetts state senate and later President of U Mass.”

In the Thursday ABC World News story, reporter John Berman at least showed Billy with some prominent Democrats, though such Irish celebrations are bi-partisan – “while one brother was growing up to sing with the likes of Ted Kennedy, the other was in a cell at Alcatraz” – he didn’t utter the name of that political party.

More Berman: “While he was Boston’s most-powerful crime boss, his brother Billy, four years younger, was Boston’s most-powerful politician, 18 years as the Senate President.” And: “It was a mind-boggling reality. At the time Billy Bulger was rubbing shoulders with world leaders, his brother allegedly rubbing people out.”

From Jeff Rossen’s story on the Friday, June 24 NBC Nightly News:

ROSSEN: Tonight there are new questions about his brother, who just happens to be a big-time politician here. What did he know?...

Just as investigators say Whitey was ordering hits, his brother, Billy Bulger, was rising in state government, President of the Massachusetts state senate and later President of U Mass. He came to court today to see his brother. Billy has always denied knowledge of Whitey’s alleged crimes or where he’s been hiding.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell grew up nearby.

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: You would not be asked questions about what your brother does, because too many people have bothers doing things that they couldn’t explain.

ROSSEN: But those pesky questions never went away, even at a 2003 congressional hearing...

Rossen did at least paraphrase for one local woman: “So you think Billy knew?” “Yeah,” she confirmed.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center