Over two weeks ago the Kansas City media blog, Bottom Line Communications, announced The Race is on: Phill Kline vs. Kansas City Star. Since that time ads have aired on Kansas City talk radio paid for by two non-profit organizations often highlighting the battle of conservative Phill Kline with the Kansas City Star in recent years. Kline’s real opponent in the August primary, Steve Howe, has been mostly ignored in these media battles both in the air waves and in recent mailings to Johnson County voters.
The Star has a long history of one-sided and left-leaning reporting, and bias against conservatives.
For example, in 1996 when Bob Dole was running for president, the Star spent money trying to find dirt on Bob Dole’s campaign practices and contributors and found some. Yet the Star did not spend a dime researching anything about President Bill Clinton’s campaign scandals, such as the one with Charlie Trie. Somehow, the Star thought their one-side research and reporting and attempted embarrassment of Bob Dole was more important than fair and balanced reporting.
In the 2002 Attorney General’s race, Phill Kline was outspent by Dr. George Tiller on behalf of Chris Biggs, yet the Star didn’t think nearly $300,000 of abortion money in Kansas politics was newsworthy. When this story was discovered in 2003 and not reported by the Star, Mirriam Pepper from the Star‘s editorial board explained in an E-mail why the Star had not covered it: “Well, we do have folks on vacation.” The Star‘s vacation benefit must be quite generous.
At that time in 2003 Tom Bell, publisher of the Salina Journal opined: “It is also troubling that this story was overlooked by the state’s media.” Citizens in the Kansas City and Topeka areas were shielded from the story by the press in their areas.
The Star ignored this $300,000 political money story at the time a national organization gave Kansas an “F” in campaign finance disclosure. The Star not only refused to report the political money story, but the editorial board missed an opportunity to promote campaign finance reform and transparency in Kansas. But what good are new disclosure laws if the press ignores the information?
In 2003 the Star tag teamed with KCTV 5 in a nepotism story involving Kline, yet ignored an even larger nepotism story involving the son of Governor Sebelius’ chief-of-staff, who was also the son of one of the Kansas Supreme Court justices. The goal of the Star and KCTV was to inflict political harm on Kline regardless of what the truth was. [Oddly, KCTV led with their hit piece on Kline instead of covering the tornado that ripped through Kansas City, KS the previous day.]
The Star‘s idea of fairness (which happened in 2003) was to blast Kline in an editorial in their Sunday edition, but then publish a favorable letter to the editor about Kline in Monday’s paper.
The list could go on, but the theme has been the same for the left-leaning agenda driven Star.
Redacted medical records were a large part of the 2006 Attorney General’s race between Phill Kline and Paul Morrison, but how often did the Star explain what “redacted” means?
With at least $400,000 spent by a Kansas non-profit and another $800,000 spent by a Kansas PAC, Kline did not survive the Snoop Dog and related attacks in the 2006 election, especially with an unfair and biased press working against him. The Star didn’t want the public to understand the $1.2 million spent by Dr. Tiller’s non-profit and PAC to defeat Kline.
There’s a bit of irony now that the same political money tricks used by Dr. Tiller are being exploited by conservatives to help Phill Kline’s bid for District attorney. One problem: in the eyes of the press and the Star, it’s OK for the left to use these legal tactics, but the press will not tolerate the right using the same legal tactics.
Instead of largely ignoring non-profit and PAC money involved when Kline was defeated for AG in 2006, the Star will likely not tolerate non-profits helping Kline. The Star will make these legal non-profits an issue and expose what is going on. The Star has different reporting rules — like most of the media — for those on the left, than those on the right.
The “proud to be a liberal” (his bumper sticker in March 2007) Mike Hendricks immediately noticed the ads by the Victim’s Voice Foundation on July 8, but I do not recall Mr. Hendricks commenting about the Snoop Dogs used to attack Kline in 2006. One non-profit is used to help Kline (bad in Hendricks mind), so he must write an article, but when a non-profit is used to harm Kline (OK in Hendricks mind), the public doesn’t deserve to know what the word “redacted” means? [Update (7/29): Mike Hendricks informed me that bumper sticker is no longer on his wife's car.]
In addition to the radio ads, Victim’s Voice Foundation sent fliers, such as the following, which put the focus on the Star as Kline’s opponent:
Did the Star ask about the spelling of the group’s name? “Victim’s” vs “Victims’”?
As part of a response to Dave Helling’s blog item, Meadowlarking about, (I didn’t even know “Meadowlark” could be a verb), the Meadowlark disclosed what was known from public records about the Victim’s Voice Foundation:
That “Not for profit” corporation formed on 6/9/2008. Unfortunately, the Kansas Secretary of State charges something like $15 for more info, such as the articles of incorporation. The Star should be critical of the lack of sunshine on public records in Kansas — especially compared to Missouri.
The Star can’t find the story when non-profit money harms Kline, but can find the story when non-profit money helps Kline? This is “fair and balanced” reporting?
In recent days, another non-profit, KCNewsWatch.com, has surfaced to counter the Star on both sides of the state line both on talk radio and in mailings like the following:
As mentioned above in the “Meadowlarking about” blog entry, the Meadowlark disclosed what was known from public records about this group:
Missouri “open records” about corporations are much better than Kansas. A search on this page shows KC NewsWatch is a Missouri “nonprofit public benefit corporation.” The Board of Directors consists of Michael McMullen, Robert Gough and Jack Cashill.
Finding additional information on either of these non-profits could take years.
I’ve spent about 18 months with various requests to the IRS about the two Kansas non-profits involved in the 2006 Kansas elections, and the IRS stonewalls many requests. Recently, the IRS took three weeks to open a letter according to time stamps, and about 60-90 days to process requests. I have one request that is over 90 days old and the IRS will not answer any questions about the status of the request by phone.
But since conservatives dared to help Phill Kline using a non-profit, I’m sure the Star will investigate Victim’s Voice Foundation and KCNewsWatch, while ignoring the huge sums of money spent in 2006 by non-profits in Kansas elections, including Progress Kansas and Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection.
How liberal are some members of the Star’s staff?
The Kansas City Star was the winner of the Planned Parenthood “Maggie Award” in 2006, yet that is never mentioned in their defense of Planned Parenthood. Who nominated the Star for this award? What members of the Star‘s editorial board attended the award ceremony?
At the ACLU “Liberty Awards” in Nov 2007, two members of the Star were present: Dave Helling and Lee Judge.
A social hour started the evening along with a silent auction of a dozen framed cartoon prints by Lee Judge, the political cartoonist for The Kansas City Star. After a buffet dinner, served by Robert Salsman Catering, Dave Helling made remarks on the evening’s theme: “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.”
KC Star’s Lee Judge’s cartoon prints sold to benefit the ACLU
KC Star’s Dave Helling addressing the ACLU Awards DInner
[UPDATE 8/3: Dave Helling responded to the Meadowlark about his appearance at this ACLU meeting:
I told the group I disagreed with some of their positions, sometimes strongly, but greatly appreciated their commitment to the First Amendment, which is the most important tool in a reporter's toolbox, let alone the guarantor of all of our freedoms.
The Meadowlark's intent is not to take unfair shots at local reporters, but only to encourage local mainstream media to be more fair and balanced in their reporting, and in their commentary.]
Helling’s connections to the ACLU are not new. According to his bio when he was at KCTV 5:
Dave has received a number of awards including the Freedom of Press Award from the ACLU in 1991 for his Truthwatch series
I’ve never understood why the ACLU mostly represents far-left clients.
Where is the balance in the journalism of the Kansas City Star when their staff align themselves with far-left groups, Planned Parenthood and the ALCU?
Why are conservative voices largely squelched by the Star?
What did Bill O’Reilly say about the Star?
On Nov 6, 2006, because of their failure to report the Shame of Kansas, and because of the Star’s failure to protect rape victims and viable babies, O’Reilly called for a boycott of the Kansas City Star: Don’t Buy, Don’t Advertise.
Oddly, a left-leaning political agenda seems more important to the Star than profits.