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Michael Barnicle (born October 13, 1943)[1] is an American print and broadcast journalist, and a social and political commentator. He is a senior contributor and the veteran columnist on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He is also seen on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and NBC's Today Show with news/feature segments. He has been a regular contributor to the local Boston television news magazine, Chronicle on WCVB-TV, since 1986. Barnicle has also appeared on PBS's Charlie Rose, the PBS NewsHour, CBS's 60 Minutes, ESPN, and HBO sports programming.

Mike Barnicle
Mike Barnicle on Morning Joe (1).jpg
Mike Barnicle on MSNBC's Morning Joe in 2018
Michael Barnicle

(1943-10-13) October 13, 1943 (age 75)[1]
EducationBoston University
Alma materBoston University (1965)
OccupationJournalist, commentator
Years active1965–present

The Massachusetts native has written more than 4,000 columns[2] collectively for the New York Daily News (1999–2005), Boston Herald (2004–2005 and occasionally contributing from 2006 to 2010), and The Boston Globe, where he rose to prominence with columns about Boston's working and middle classes. He also has written articles and commentary for Time magazine, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, ESPN Magazine, and Esquire, among others.


Early careerEdit

Barnicle was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, grew up in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and graduated from Boston University in 1965. Barnicle worked as a volunteer for the Robert F. Kennedy 1968 presidential campaign in various states. After Kennedy's assassination, Barnicle attended the Requiem Mass for Kennedy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and later rode on the 21 car funeral train to Arlington National Cemetery.[3] In 1970, after the election of Sen. John V. Tunney from California, Barnicle was hired as his speechwriter. In 1972, when Sen. Ed Muskie announced his intention to run in the Democratic Party presidential primaries, Barnicle was hired by Muskie as his speechwriter. Barnicle appeared in a small part in the Robert Redford film The Candidate. While visiting Redford's "Sundance" home in Utah, Barnicle was asked to write a column in The Boston Globe, and his column ran for 24 years between 1973 and 1998.[2]

The paper and its columnist won praise with their coverage of the political and social upheaval that roiled Boston after the city instituted a mandatory, court-ordered school desegregation plan in the mid 1970s. In his Pulitzer Prize–winning book Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families (1986), J. Anthony Lukas wrote that Barnicle gave voice to the Boston residents who had been angered by the policy. Lukas singled out Barnicle's column ("Busing Puts Burden on Working Class, Black and White" published in The Boston Globe, October 15, 1974) and interview with Harvard psychiatrist and author Robert Coles as one of the defining moments in the coverage. The paper earned the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.[4]

Over the next three decades, Barnicle became a prominent voice in New England. His columns mixed pointed criticism of government and bureaucratic failure with personal stories that exemplified people's everyday struggles to make a living and raise a family. Tapping into a rich knowledge of local and national politics, Barnicle had unique takes on the ups and downs of luminaries such as Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. John Kerry, and longtime Congressional Speaker of the House Thomas Tip O'Neill, as well as Boston mayors Kevin White, Ray Flynn, and Tom Menino. In subsequent years, Barnicle's coverage expanded as he reported from Northern Ireland on the conflict and resolution there to the beaches of Normandy, from where he wrote about the commemorations of World War II veterans.[5]

Barnicle has won local and national awards for both his print and broadcast work over the last three decades, including from the Associated Press, United Press International, National Headliners, and duPont-Columbia University. He holds honorary degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Colby College.[6][7]

Boston Globe controversyEdit

In 1998, Barnicle resigned from The Boston Globe amid a controversy over two columns, written three years apart. The first column of more than 80 lines of humorous observations had "a series of one-liners that had been lifted from... George Carlin's best-selling 1997 book, Brain Droppings."[8] Barnicle was then suspended without pay. [9]

The Globe's editor, Matthew Storin, asked Barnicle to resign "after learning that Barnicle, who claimed never to have read Carlin's book, had held it in his hand and recommended it on Boston's WCVB-TV in June." [8] Barnicle initially refused to resign over Storin's insistence, finally caving in under pressure on August 20.[10][11] In 1999, Carlin commented to the National Press Club:

...someone changed each of the jokes just enough, they thought, to disguise them – that part didn't work – and what they did was make them all worse. ... As an example, one of them was just an observation where I said: "someday I'd like to see the Pope come out on that balcony and give the football scores." And they changed it to baseball! Which is not as funny! For whatever reason, ..."football" is funnier than "baseball" in that sentence.[12]

The Boston Phoenix published an article on August 20[13] reporting that Barnicle had plagiarized A.J. Leibling in a previous article,[14] and Boston Magazine "began a "Barnicle Watch" in the early 1990s to try to track down what it suspected were some dubious Barnicle sources."[10]

In a subsequent Globe review of all of Barnicle's many years of work, a second column was called into question. The October 8, 1995 column recounted the story of two sets of parents with cancer-stricken children. When one of the children died, the parents of the other child, who had begun to recover, sent the dead child's parents a check for $10,000. When the Globe could not locate the people who had not been publicly identified because they had died as well, Barnicle insisted nonetheless that the story was true. He said he did not obtain the story from the parents but from a nurse, whom he declined to identify. Mrs. Patricia Shairs later contacted the Globe to indicate that the story Barnicle wrote was about her family, although she said some of the facts were incorrect. The article states that "[...]there are more differences between the column and Shairs's story than similarities".[15]


Six months after his resignation from the Globe, the New York Daily News recruited Barnicle to write for them, and later the Boston Herald.[16] Barnicle told reporters that he had nothing but "fond feelings for 25 years at the Globe".[16] Barnicle hosted a radio show three times a week called Barnicle's View.[17]

Barnicle has since become a staple on MSNBC,[18] including on Morning Joe as well as on specials on breaking news topics and presidential elections. Barnicle interviewed all of the candidates in the 2016 presidential race.[19]

Barnicle is a devoted baseball fan and was interviewed in Ken Burns's film Baseball in The Tenth Inning movie, where he mostly commented on the 2003–2004 Boston Red Sox.[20] He has also been featured in TV documentaries and programs, including Fabulous Fenway: America's Legendary Ballpark (2000); City of Champions: The Best of Boston Sports (2005); ESPN 25: Who's #1 (2005); Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino (2004); The Curse of the Bambino (2003); ESPN Sports Century (2000); Baseball (1994); and in the TV series Prime 9 (2010–2011) for MLB Network.[21]


Barnicle is married to the vice chair of Bank of America, Anne Finucane;[22] the couple have four adult children and live in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Mike Barnicle". Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Boston columnist quits amid new allegations Barnicle had beaten earlier call to resign", The Baltimore Sun, August 20, 1998
  3. ^ Barnicle, Mike (2018-06-05). "What I Saw on RFK's Funeral Train 50 Years Ago Today". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  4. ^ Pulitzer Prize Website
  5. ^ Amid the graves, gratitude lives on, The Boston Globe, June 7, 1994
  6. ^ "Around the Pond Summer 1997". Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Colby College, 1987 Commencement". Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b Kurtz, Howard (1998-08-06). "BOSTON GLOBE'S MIKE BARNICLE TOLD TO RESIGN". Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  9. ^ "Boston columnist resigns amid new plagiarism charges". Reuters. 1998-08-19. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  10. ^ a b "Boston Globe Columnist Barnicle Resigns Over Fabrication Questions". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  11. ^ "Former Boston Globe Columnist Is Returning, but to a Rival". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  12. ^ George Carlin, Larry M. Lipman (1999-05-13). Brain Droppings (television production). Washington, D.C.: C-SPAN. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  13. ^ Ty Duffy. "Mike Barnicle: Fabricator, Plagiarist and Now a Grantland Contributor". The Big Lead. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  14. ^ Dan Kennedy (1998-08-20). "Striking Similarities Mike Barnicle, this is A.J. Liebling. Have you met?". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  15. ^ Column had similarities to couple's story, The Boston Globe, August 26, 1998
  16. ^ a b "Barnicle signs on as Herald columnist". The Boston Globe. Accessed 12 July 2007.
  17. ^ "Mike Barnicle - Technology Trends". Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Mike Barnicle". MSNBC. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Mike Barnicle on 2016". Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  20. ^ Video, The Tenth Inning, PBS
  21. ^ Mike Barnicle
  22. ^ Ferro, Shane (2016-01-21). "Banking Doesn't Have To Be A Boys' Club, Bank Of America Exec Says". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-07.

External linksEdit