Former Boston Globe Writer Says He Had No Intention of P—— in Bill Kristol’s Salmon

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Former Boston Globe freelance writer Luke O’Neil says he never had any inkling to urinate on a dinner entree he served as a waiter 10 years ago to neoconservative William Kristol — as opposed to the earthy term he used while suggesting just that in the lede of a column he wrote last week.

“Well, the main reason I started with that is because it’s very clearly a funny joke. And, you know, obviously I was never going to actually pee in somebody’s dish – and I’m going to have to try really hard to not say the other word here, I’m told. … That would be a really insane thing to do. As I do in much of my writing, I was using crude hyperbole to sort of make a point …” O’Neil said during a radio interview Wednesday on WBUR FM-90.9.

O’Neil’s column, which appeared on The Boston Globe’s web site on Wednesday, April 17 but not in the printed version of the newspaper, was edited three times before the Globe took it down from the web site.

The column’s original lede said O’Neil regretted not “pissing” on Kristol’s salmon. After it was published an editor changed it to “defiling.” After that version was published, an editor changed it to “telling [him] … what I really thought about him.” After that version was published, the article was pulled, at the order of John Henry, the newspaper’s owner, and Linda Henry, the newspaper’s managing director.

WBUR host Jill Kaufman said the radio station asked the Globe to participate in the segment, which aired Wednesday, April 17.

“They couldn’t make anyone available, but they did issue a statement,” Kaufman said.

She said the Globe statement said, among other things:  “The column should never have been published.”

O’Neil said he had nothing to do with the second and third versions of the column that appeared online, and that he was quickly preoccupied with harassment from critics on his Twitter account.

“So I was just like, ‘Do whatever you want, I don’t care.’ But then, I had nothing to do – they didn’t even tell me about the taking it down, or any of the further edits after that. I was not consulted. Nor have I heard from anyone there, except for my immediate editor, who also seems to be in trouble at this point,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil’s column also argued for harassing Trump administration officials and allies past and present because of policies they put in place. He focused on Kirstjen Nielsen, the recently fired Secretary of Homeland Security. He bemoaned the dropoff of harassment in public places such as restaurants since it got widespread attention earlier this year.

He also coyly addressed defiling food in restaurants:

“As for the waiters out there, I’m not saying you should tamper with anyone’s food, as that could get you into trouble. You might lose your serving job. But you’d be serving America. And you won’t have any regrets years later.”

O’Neil was asked if he expected the heavy negative reaction he got.

“No, not really, I write this sort of stuff all the time,” O’Neil said. “And, you know, it tends to be received in the tone that it’s meant to be, until there’s like this faux outrage.”

Conservatives ginned up opposition to the article, he said.

“This is something that the right does all the time. They try to work the refs, and they do these like phony, you know, emails and call-ins saying they’re cancelling their subscriptions,” O’Neil said. “And legacy media still doesn’t know how to deal with that sort of thing. They’re still being, somehow, outflanked by these people on the right, who are much savvier about this sort of stuff than newspaper editors.”

O’Neil’s column stemmed from his outrage over Trump administration’s former policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border when the parents were detained for illegally attempting to enter the United States as repeat offenders. He said it’s not a left-right matter for him, and that when conservatives argue that former president Barack Obama presided over a similar policy, it doesn’t change his opinion.

“I could not care less about Obama or anyone in his administration. If they were in power right now, I’d be saying the same thing,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil’s column in its various versions sparked outrage. But when the Globe pulled the article it sparked also sparked outrage, particularly with the wording of an editor’s note distancing the newspaper from O’Neil by noting he was “not on staff.”

O’Neil announced after the column was taken down last week that he would never write for The Boston Globe again, which he repeated Wednesday.

“Why would I work with a place that is going to throw me under the bus like that ever again?” O’Neil said during the radio interview.