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Little bearing on the campaign? We imagine Jeanne Patterson might have liked to know whether a Star story really would have had little effect on the race she eventually lost to Cleaver. And we're certain that other Kansas City businesses and institutions will now be thrilled to know about the Star's hands-off approach to ethics questions. We're sure they'll be counting on the same treatment from now on.
But come on. That last one was a real howler. It's not hard to see that the Star finally let Kraske write the story because the Post had made the paper look so bad.
Was it possible that the Star really thought this wasn't a story last fall, when it mattered most? We asked Kurtz what he thought about it.
"If I were a local reporter, it's hard to imagine that I wouldn't be interested in writing about a case in which the area's congressional candidate had put a journalist on the campaign payroll," Kurtz told us. "That may or may not create an ethical problem, but it certainly sounds like news that should be reported."
Well, of course it is. And Kurtz was right -- reporters at the Star naturally saw it the same way. From our discussion with Banks and Hoech, it was clear to us that Kraske and Margolies were convinced this was an important story and wanted to publish something but were hamstrung by Star management.
And while reporting this column, the Strip kept hearing that this wasn't the only time.
We heard from two former members of Metzl's campaign, for example, that Kraske had complained to them directly about former publisher Art Brisbane interfering with coverage of the campaign. They say it was Kraske who told them something the Strip had also heard, but from another source: that Brisbane had overruled the Star's editorial board, which wanted to endorse Metzl, not Cleaver, in the primary.
We first heard that tale last fall and sent e-mails to all of the Star's editorial board members. We heard back from only two -- Brisbane and Lewis Diuguid -- who both denied that the story was true.
Was it Brisbane who ordered Kraske and Margolies not to write about the potentially embarrassing news that Cleaver was paying a local reporter?
Now a senior vice president at Knight Ridder's offices in San Jose, California, Brisbane declined to comment.
The Call, meanwhile, seems to be having a difficult time understanding the concept of conflict of interest.
Kurtz followed up his first Post column with another last week about Wesson's other ethical problem: He's a convicted felon who covers the same prosecutor's office that put him in prison.
Kurtz revealed that Michael Sanders, the Jackson County prosecutor, complained to publisher Donna Stewart that the Call reporter was writing stories about the same office that prosecuted him in 1991, resulting in Wesson's 10-year prison term.
Stewart, however, responded to Sanders' complaint not by pulling Wesson off the beat but by writing a letter to Sanders telling him that his complaint was motivated by racism.
Gale Banks, the gadfly who started all of this, says she's dismayed to see the Call resorting to name-calling when its shortcomings are pointed out.