DeLeo demands Globe apology for ‘plantation’ comment

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BOSTON – Speaker Robert DeLeo of the state House of Representatives took to social media Friday to demand an apology from the Boston Globe after Frank Phillips, the newspaper’s State House bureau chief, penned a column comparing the powerful Winthrop Democrat to a plantation owner.

“If it could be said that Rosenberg, with his shared leadership system, runs a commune, DeLeo, as he enters his eighth year as the House leader, runs a plantation where he calls the shots,” the longtime Beacon Hill scribe wrote in a column published Friday. He was referring to Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, the Amherst Democrat who serves as DeLeo’s counterpart in the upper chamber of the Legislature.

DeLeo blasted the Globe on Twitter, claiming the reference trivialized slavery, and demanded an apology:

Phillips didn’t respond immediately to an email sent late Friday requesting a comment.

The Globe, however, issued a statement to the State House News Service on what some of today’s college campuses might call a microaggression:

“The Globe quite obviously did not intend to trivialize slavery or the work of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. We are certainly sorry that we wrote that line in a way that conveyed that to the speaker.”

The phrase by Phillips appeared in what amounted to a performance review of Beacon Hill’s three most-powerful elected officials: DeLeo, Rosenberg and Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican.

It’s not the first time DeLeo and the Globe have butted heads. Last year, the speaker ripped the paper over its coverage of state Probation Department scandals. DeLeo was never charged but the Globe reported that he had been referred to as an “unindicted co-conspirator” by U.S. Justice Department prosecutors.

DeLeo in October requested state Attorney General Maura Healey to launch an investigation to determine how the Globe managed to secure a copy of the sealed, 5-year-old transcript which identified him as a co-conspirator, along with numerous lawmakers given similar designations.

Healey later turned down DeLeo’s request.