On October 5th, the T's social media accounts started to promote a brand-new podcast program, titled "Spilling the T," which promised a "backstage pass to understanding the complexities and nuances of operating one of the busiest transit systems in the nation."
But within a few hours, the program was abruptly scrubbed from the internet, and the T deleted its earlier social media posts.
When we asked why, the MBTA's press office declined to offer any on-the-record explanation.
But thanks to a public records request submitted by StreetsblogMASS reader Ian Hunt-Isaak, we now have internal emails that show why the T's press office couldn't talk about it: because the Governor's office had directed them to send the podcast down a memory hole.
In an email delivered at 9:12 a.m. on October 5, Andrew Cassidy, the MBTA's Senior Director of Digital Strategy & Engagement and the creator of the "Spilling the T" podcast, wrote this to Danny Levy, the T's Chief Customer Officer:
Good morning Danny,
Per your conversation with the Governor’s Office this morning, under their direction, the Spilling the T podcast has been removed from all platforms... Despite going against our Social Media policy, at their request, all associated social content has been deleted and screens are in the process of being taken down.
As an FYI, some members of the media did see the podcast go live, so the T should be prepared to answer questions as to why it was deleted - especially given it was framed as a step towards increased transparency.
October 5 email from Andrew Cassidy to Danny Levy
StreetsblogMASS reached out to the Governor's press office on Thursday to ask what they found objectionable about the podcast, and whether the Governor's office frequently interferes in the MBTA's transparency efforts.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the Governor wrote that "the Governor's Office and MBTA frequently collaborate on strategic communications initiatives to ensure that the people of Massachusetts are receiving timely, accurate and comprehensive information."
The spokesperson added that the podcast episode was published "prematurely" and was officially re-published on October 18.