11/07/2022

On the death of a journalist

3 min
In the death of a journalist

Edward Joseph O'Hare, better known as E. J., was born on September 5, 1893 in Saint Louis to a family of Irish descent. On June 4, 1912, E. J. O'Hare married Selma Anna Lauth and the couple moved into the apartment above his father-in-law's grocery store. While Selma Anna took care of the cooking and the kids (Edward, Patricia and Marilyn), E. J. managed to pass the bar exam in Missouri and progressed by managing dog racing tracks in Chicago, Boston and Miami.

In the dog racing business and in his career as a lawyer O'Hare made a fortune with a patent for a mechanical rabbit that triumphed in greyhound racing.

Fortune, Chicago and a Vatican dispensation brought him closer to a new life and to families of mafiosi, to doing business with alcohol smuggling during prohibition and, in the end, to Al Capone.

There are also kinds among the people of the underworld. Not all lawyers, not all mafiosi, not all journalists are the same, nor do all lives progress in a straight line. The fact is that at one point he saw the light

O'Hare was the Mafia's top lawyer until he talked to a reporter from the St. Louis Post Dispatch whom he asked to put him in touch with Frank J. Wilson, who worked for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the agency that prosecuted Al Capone for tax evasion.

After decades of loyalty to organised crime, O'Hare provided the ledgers and codes to decipher them. It was also he who warned Judge Wilkerson that Al Capone had bribed the jury. Sure enough, O'Hare was killed on November 8, 1939 while driving a Lincoln-Zephyr coupé down Ogden Avenue

Dare you know?

No job is worthy by itself. Some are better than others. Good jobs bring prestige and money, but some of the bad ones are irresistible. Uncurious and unwilling to understand rather than judge, the St. Louis Post Dispatch would never have explained who that mob lawyer was who took down Al Capone.

A good journalist knows which story is worth telling and where and when turn the spotlight on some supposedly irrelevant story.

There are also classes among the people of the underworld. Not all lawyers, not all mobsters, not all journalists are the same. I think of the death of Dolors Genovès. Her indomitable dedication in search of the truth, building some of the best documentaries in the history of TV3, is not the same, for example, as the profession that obedient spokespersons of power who take leaks from the deep state and various courtiers think they share with her. I think of the loneliness and the production difficulties of Genovès's great reports the same day as the front pages of newspapers in Catalonia and the rest of the State ignore that, according to an ARA headline, a "cartel of construction companies split public works for 25 years". They will pay a €200m fine for cheating in tenders for works paid with the reader's taxes.

What a coincidence that only one newspaper has it on the front page and it is a newspaper that basically lives from its subscribers and not from advertising from construction companies.

The death of a journalist in capital letters or of a news item that falls from the front page is also in a small way the death of democracy

I wonder how another country would have bid farewell to her. Hers has been a life dedicated to knowledge, to research, to History with a capital H and the stories of people with a small p.

A career fleeing from prejudice and reaping the consequences of research without keeping information stored away and winning in court against those who believe that rules do not apply to them.

Dolors Genovès worked in the stage of creation and expansion of public television. She always defended it and fought from within against bureaucratisation and media drainage, complacency and accommodation. Her legacy could be summed up by the ambition of a country that is also uncomplacent in its journalism. Journalism in Spain needs fewer sewers, fewer trenches and to point out the economic and political mafias. Also less tolerance with those who publish fabricated files or pave the way for the extreme right out of business interests. They are intruders on the dignity of the profession, whether they are called Inda, Marhuenda, Quintana or Griso.

Catalonia also needs fewer spokespersons and more committed journalists. Committed to the country, but whose homeland is fundamentally journalism, and whose travelling companions are their readers.