Kansas City Star treats journalism ethics like a carnival midway scam

In rebuffing Kansas gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt in his request to answer an attack editorial it published against him recently, The Kansas City Star reminds us of Steve Martin as the carnival midway huckster guessing people’s weight in the classic 1979 comedy “The Jerk.”

“What do I win?” queries a potentially interested sucker, debating investing his $1 for the chance to stump the scamster.

“Anything you see right here,” Martin replies, pointing to shelves of prizes. “Anything below the stereo and on this side of the Bicentennial glasses; anything between the ashtrays and the thimble – anything in this three inches that includes the Chiclets but not the erasers…”

Ah, the parallels abound. But there’s nothing funny about watching the Star’s promise of journalistic integrity collide head-on with its embraced duty to Leftist partisanship. In fact watching yet another example of the pro-liberal taint that pervades so many corporate media outlets, the incident sadly adds another stone to the burden of despondency borne by all of us who still carry a torch of hope for our profession’s value. When the majority of the country no longer trusts journalism to be fair and balanced, it’s hard to claw your way back.

Schmidt’s tiff with the Star began when editorialist Dave Helling penned a piece attacking Schmidt and his Republican primary opponent Dr. Jeff Colyer for signing The 1776 Pledge, authored by 1776 Action and targeted to counter the blanket indictments of racism and bigotry lodged against the American legacy by The 1619 Project. The 1776 Pledge basically puts a candidate on record endorsing the teaching of an honest version of American history in schools with emphasis on the amazing qualities of both the American ideal and our accomplishments, without a preoccupation toward the racism and guilt-ridden negativity promoted by liberal teachers as revealed during the pandemic by Zoom class videos.

But the 1776 Pledge is too close to baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet for Helling, who wanted to make sure any assertion of ‘hell ya, America!’ comes with an adequate dose of White guilt and that particularly Republicans have to wear that scarlet letter. He even admits at one point in his piece the founders of our nation – some of whom owned slaves – were miraculous, if flawed, and croons that he “truth” of the messiness of our history should be taught in schools. But of course Dave Helling’s truth leans Left.

Dare say, any student who’s actually attended class in this country since the Civil War knows it happened and why; they know what Jim Crow Laws were (real ones – not the lie promoted by Joe Biden and other hucksters trying to cast voter ID requirements as racist throwbacks); they know Whites in the South continued to subjugate Blacks through the Civil Rights era. They know Thomas Jefferson had a Black slave mistress with whom he probably had children. And they know the social, economic and professional strides made by Blacks in this country since – not the least of which was the election of a Black man as a two-term president elected primarily by Whites.

But the Star’s grudge isn’t over education or even Republican endorsement of ideological pledges. The real issue has been exemplified in innumerable editorials, hit pieces and slanted coverage by the newspaper against Republicans for decades. The Kansas City Star hates Republicans, and conservative Republicans of the modern variety most of all. “The Red Star” nickname was coined long ago.

Even so, it was still surprising that Star editorial page editor Derek Donovan placed such wilting content constraints on Schmidt when he wanted to defend himself in a rebuttal column in the paper. Donovan refused to publish Schmidt’s rebuttal unless he agreed not to address Critical Race Theory, which Donovan claims doesn’t exist but whose elements form the basis of The 1619 Project and whose false and racist assertions have surfaced in both public and private school lessons taught by “woke” liberals bent on cultivating prejudice against White people.

So we’ll publish your rebuttal, Donovan told Schmidt, as long as what you say fits between the Chiclets and the Bicentennial glasses.    

We might believe the opinions of a man running for governor of Kansas matter whatever they are – that it should be we who get to determine whether his arguments are worthy and whether we agree or disagree with him. But the Star wants to lie to its readers and assert Critical Race Theory is a conservative fantasy, and its editors don’t want a mere gubernatorial candidate contradicting them.

Like a carnival scam, it is of course a moral failure of the Star to approach what we all used to believe was a higher responsibility in such a manner. But the truth is, those in charge at the Star – just like the people who control much of the rest of the Legacy Media in our country and the likes of Facebook and Twitter – don’t care about or really even understand that moral responsibility anymore.

They believe their hatred for conservatives and Republicans justifies the degradation of journalism. Step right up, suckers. ###