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The Freedom of Massachusetts journalist “Turtleboy” and the Freedom of Press



The story surrounding independent journalist Aidan “Turtleboy” Kearney and his recent 60-day stint in a Norfolk County jail isn’t an easy one to understand. Kearney was released from jail this afternoon after being held since the day after Christmas. I have followed this story from the beginning and even so, it often gets hard to comprehend. At the root of it all is something that we should all value tremendously: freedom of the press.

In a time of ‘fake news’, shadow banning and distorted algorithms, now more than ever freedom of the press is essential. Kearney, who started his blog Turtleboy Daily News, has always had his own style of journalism. Unconventional, often vulgar and strongly opinionated, Kearney secured a following by targeting what he considered the worst members of society in a format that was easy to consume for the average reader. Full disclosure, as the author of this article, I myself was a feature of one of Kearney’s blogs. We’ve discussed the blog since then and he offered to take it down, but I declined. I believe in freedom of the press that much.

Kearney began breaking down the Karen Read case, which by now has made national headlines. Accused of murder in the 2022 death of her then boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe, Read has denied that she killed O’Keefe and Kearney has become her most vocal supporter. Through his series “Canton Cover-Up”, Kearney meticulously detailed the death of O’Keefe and perhaps most notably, began to expand on the theory that not only did Read not kill O’Keefe, but that other individuals killed him and there was an extensive cover-up to frame Read for the murder.

As I write this today, the “Canton Cover-Up” series has 297 installments, giving readers the most extensive coverage of this case than any other media outlet in the country. As Kearney began to share more details of the case, his followers grew. Kearney himself has shared that before he began writing about the Karen Read case, he had a “couple hundred” subscribers to his blog each month and now he has thousands. It has become a lucrative subject for him and his company after years of writing without much financial success.

His popularity with followers, also known as “Turtle Riders” has critics questioning his credentials, often calling him “just a blogger” and attempting to discredit his work as an independent journalist. But what is a journalist? By definition:

“A journalist is an individual who collects/gathers information in the form of text, audio, or pictures, processes it into a news-worthy form, and disseminates it to the public.”

Certainly Kearney fits the bill but what sets him apart, and perhaps what landed him in county jail, is breaking the third wall and leaving the written page and becoming an activist.

In October, Kearney was arrested and charged by a grand jury in December with 16 counts, including eight counts of intimidation of a witness, five counts of picketing a witness and three counts of conspiracy to intimidate a witness. Those charges related to witnesses in the Karen Read case, where Kearney discussed individuals on his website and his live streams as well as held rallies and attempted to interview witnesses while leaving court. All of which, one could say, fall under freedom of the press.

Kearney was out on bail for those charges when a few days before Christmas he was charged with assault and battery and witness intimidation on an ex-girlfriend who was somehow now a witness in his case from October. It’s convoluted and hard to follow but all it took was for his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Gaetani to call the police and accuse Kearney of pushing her while at her home and his bail was revoked. 60 days in jail. Kearney denies he ever pushed Gaetani and there were no witnesses to the allegation. Gaetani’s credibility was hardly considered, from her purported lying about a pregnancy with Kearney and subsequent abortion to her communication with special prosecutor Ken Mello, all that mattered is that Kearney was out on bail and the simple accusation was enough to revoke it.

And while this whole sub-story was taking place, the OG story of Karen Read the accused murderer was still moving along. This week, the US Attorney’s office shared their own findings into the case with both the Commonwealth and the defense team, although none of that information has been made public. Supporters of Read and Kearney believe these documents will vindicate Read and give credibility to Kearney’s claims of a cover-up. The information comes just days before the next hearing in the case, which is scheduled for Monday, February 26th. Kearney has shared he will be in the courtroom for the hearing.

I met Kearney for the first time today. I was in the press box during today’s hearing where he was indicted on two new charges from the Commonwealth, wire tapping and another intimidation of a witness charge. The prosecution asked for $10,000 cash bail and a GPS device as well as some additional restrictions but the judge overseeing today’s case refused to issue any of those requests. Kearney was arraigned on the two new charges and allowed to leave on his own personal recognizance.

As the judge made her decision, supporters outside listening on the Zoom call broadcasting the hearing exploded in cheers so loud, they could be heard inside the courtroom. Kearney, and perhaps the freedom of press that he stood for, was actually free.

I was able to stay outside the room where Kearney was being processed to leave the courthouse. His attorney, Timothy Bradl as well as two members of his team waited out in the hallway for Kearney as his handcuffs were removed. On a live broadcast shortly after being set free, Kearney admitted he didn’t cry at all while in jail but he cried when his cuffs were removed today.

Kearney stepped out of the room and hugged his team members, quiet and what I interpreted as overwhelmed. Kearney hugged me as well and thanked me for coming. We had a few minutes while we waited for Bradl to gather his things and I asked Kearney how he was feeling. He said it felt “surreal.” He shared he couldn’t believe what happened in the courtroom, referring to no bail restrictions. I should mention, with no previous criminal history, Kearney was jailed for the first time in his life for what he and others believe as an attempt to silence his freedom of press. Kearney maintains he was a political prisoner while in jail these past two months.

I asked him if he thought he was in danger of his bail being revoked in light of the two newest charges and he said he wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Quickly I realized Kearney was anxious to get outside and greet his supporters. “I don’t want to keep them waiting. They’ve waited long enough.” Kearney has also promised to be back on his YouTube channel for a live broadcast Saturday night for the first time since December.

As we walked down the courthouse stairwell to the first floor, Bradl told Kearney to “get home to your kids” and that he would connect with him later in the day. I asked Bradl for an interview but he insisted today was not about him. “Today is about Aidan.”

Kearney paused just before the doors to the outside and took a photo with his team, smiling but somber. 60 days behind him, he was ready to start again. He thanked us and he and Bradl opened the doors to a thunderous crowd of supporters as a free man.

Primary correspondent for the Greater Fall River area, Jess focuses on human interest stories and investigations into political corruption. She is a former fill-in host and digital contributor at The Howie Carr Show, former host of The Jessica Machado Show and SouthCoast Tonight on WBSM in New Bedford, former blogger at The Herald News and a former fill-in host at WSAR in Fall River.



  1. RM

    February 23, 2024 at 8:43 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this. The ending gave me the chills. You’re first class!

  2. Jake Perry

    February 23, 2024 at 8:53 pm

    Spot on Jess!

    • Jusalilbetta

      February 23, 2024 at 9:20 pm

      Thank you Jess. Do you know WCVB said in their article that he has a no contact order against the witnesses of Karen’s case! Then CBS Boston said he was ordered to have a GPS device on him! Atleast you’re a real investigating reporter. That’s why I said thank you Jess. Great article. Thank you

  3. TL

    February 23, 2024 at 9:52 pm

    Now that is what a news report looks like! Well thought out and written.

  4. Dill Pickle

    February 24, 2024 at 1:22 pm

    The truth has been told here in this article…..finally a journalist/reporter who didn’t spin the narrative towards negativity but actually just told the simple truth of the matter. Very refreshing for sure. Thank you. You now have given me hope that there are TRUE journalists like Aidan still out there somewhere.

  5. MortisMaximus

    February 24, 2024 at 1:44 pm

    Freedom of speech has been canceled under the satanic deep State regime now running the American beauracracy. The cancel culture and censorship apparatus has only accelerated under the JoeBama residency. America’s Founding Father’s sacrificed life and treasure so we could create a more perfect union. Do you think the uniparty duopoly in Washington today has your best interests in mind? Just ask Antifa or BLM what priorities are essential to the quality of life in America? Burning, looting, murder and rape, abortion and ugenics are the passions dujour. Down with the decrepit Satanic deception that has infiltrated the halls of the Federal Republic…

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