The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen isn’t just live-tweeting the epic Whitey Bulger trial, he’s telling a true Twitter narrative. We’ve Storified his version of today’s proceedings, from the “All rise” until 12:57 p.m., when testimony broke for the day. In case you haven’t been following: On the stand today was prosecution witness John Martorano, an ex-hit man who killed at least 20 people, spent only 12 years in prison and then turned on Bulger, declining a spot in the federal witness protection program. The Globe’s Shelley Murphy, John Ellement and Milton Valencia wrote:
(Martorano) called (Bulger and and cohort Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi) “my partners in crime, my best friends, my children’s godfathers.’’
Martorano said he decided to testify against Bulger, Flemmi, and corrupt FBI agent John Connolly after learning that Bulger and Flemmi were informants for the FBI, handled by Connolly, during their criminal exploits.
“After I found out they were informants, it sort of broke my heart,’’ Martorano testified. “They broke all trust that we had, all loyalty.’’
Today’s testimony also covered the nervous breakdown of a retired bookie “Dickie” O’Brien’s daughter, Tara, who once had to meet with Bulger and Flemmi about keeping her father’s business running. The Globe’s reporters are all live-blogging the trial, but have a look at how Cullen’s tweets hold up as a standalone Twitter narrative. There’s cumulative arc (onward pushes the story of how the hit man says the crime boss operated), plus dialogue, narrative tension, detail, description — pretty hard to pull off in a 132-character tweet. (The #Bulger and, usually, a space, eat eight.) The tweets are written. They have voice. You know you’re in the hands of a storyteller with:
Followed Indian Al’s Mercedes, pulled alongside and Johnny and Howie opened fire. “We gave him a broadside,” Johnny says.
Nicky Femia got six machine guns for them in New York. Southie and Somerville split the guns. “Whitey and his gang.”
“I walked in and shot him,” Johnny says. “We had to get someone to bury him.” Joe Mac and Jimmy Sims were the men for the job.
Cullen is tweeting from his iPad and emailed us a few minutes ago to say he’s been working mostly from the overflow press courtroom, “which has a camera that shows the witnesses and Whitey alternatively. It’s actually much better for my purposes to be in the overflow room, where I can sit at a table and tweet quicker and see more of the courtroom, and see the faces of the defendant and the witnesses and lawyers.”
Read our full Storify here:
Cullen is a Globe Metro columnist and an alum of the Foreign desk and Spotlight team, and worked on the investigative team whose 2003 coverage of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal won a Pulitzer Prize. He is the author, with Shelley Murphy, of Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice. He’s a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard. You can follow him at @GlobeCullen.