FBI, Globe, Herald Trade Barbs In Tipster Spat

By WGBH News


Oct. 13, 2011

BOSTON — The FBI has entered the fray in a debate over the Boston Globe's decision to name the tipster whose information led to the arrest of James "Whitey" Bulger.

In an interview with WGBH's Emily Rooney, Globe editor Scott Allen said the FBI did not discourage the Globe from naming Bjornsdottir. However, the FBI released a statement on Wednesday saying its silence should not be viewed as acquiescence to the Globe's decision.

On October 9, the Globe published a detailed story about life on the lam for the fugitive mob boss and his girlfriend Catherine Greig. For the story, Globe reporters tracked down and identified Icelandic actress Anna Bjornsdottir, a former neighbor of Bulger and Greig in the Santa Monica apartment complex where the couple was found. 

Earlier this week, the Boston Herald accused its rival of putting Bjornsdottir’s life in danger.
The Boston Globe is defending its decision to reveal Bjornsdottir's name. Allen said the paper carefully weighed the pros and cons of identifying the tipster.
“Had there been any question in our minds that there was any danger to her, we would not have published the name at all,” Allen said. “And, what I would want everybody to know in this case is that Whitey Bulger already knew. He knew one person from Iceland.”
Allen chalked the Herald's reaction up to professional jealousy.

“The Boston Herald got badly burned on a story that is richly important to them. They were beaten badly. They had beaten the drum all summer raising questions about the existence of the tipster. We outed the tipster. They were sorry they didn’t have the story. And what did they do? The next day they suddenly became concerned for her safety,” Allen said.
“It’s the lowest form of journalism,” Allen added.

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