Hearne: Star Editor Missing in Action as Layoffs Loom

Will Kansas City Star editor Mike Fannin live to tell the story?

First Fannin took a three-hour radio and cable TV drubbing at the hands of former sports scribe Jason Whitlock. Whitlock painted a picture of Fannin as a party boy who had been having an “inappropriate relationship” with his immediate subordinate, Star sports editor Holly Lawton (a.k.a. sportsbabe68 on Twitter).

Coincidentally, Lawton abruptly resigned just prior to the three-month Whitlock “vacation” saga reaching full boil.

That was followed by reporting by KC Confidential – not the Pitch – that several Star sources also believed the Fannin/Lawton romance tale to be true. In addition I reported Fannin had told me – while I was still employed by and working under him at the newspaper – that in April of 2008 he’d turned down the editor’s post offered to him by new publisher Mark Zieman. The reason: Fannin said he’d warned Zieman that there were skeletons that could come out if the Pitch or somebody were to investigate him.

Shortly after that Zieman convinced Fannin to accept the job despite the warning.

I also relayed a story Fannin had told me about having to be forcibly removed by Star security years ago after he went after a dude that worked on the first floor of the main Star building he suspected was having an affair with his wife.

Fannin long since divorced.

And I relayed a tale told to me years ago and later remembered by comedy club owner Craig Glazer, about a Star sportswriter bringing Fannin to Glazer’s Westport club and the three of them snorting cocaine in Glazer’s office. That allegedly went down prior to Glazer’s 2001 drug bust.

Later KC Confidential unearthed an unreported, 2006 DUI conviction of

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12 Responses to Hearne: Star Editor Missing in Action as Layoffs Loom

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fannin stays with his innapropriate affair blown open, allegedly, which you have reported as being a fire-able offense, and others get whacked for “budgetary” reasons.
    That’s a lawyers wet dream! Could get multiple plaintif’s including former Star employee’s such as yourself involved.

    It’ll never get to trial and if it does it’d be a great reality show. This could cost McClatchy lots of dough to settle.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Hearne, Esq.:
    > “not the Pitch”

    Holy fuck that is funny. This is probably the 1st piece of real journalism you’ve been involved with in god-knows-how-long… and for some reason, you find it is worth noting that it was you — the great Hearne Christopher, and not those poor folks at The Pitch — who had enough time on his hands to comb-trough county websites across the Midwest looking for arrest reports. I can’t help but ask… What on earth is The Pitch thinking?!?

    Don’t they realize that Fannin might have been arrested in Greeley at some point in his life?!?! Maybe he jaywalked in Lawrence??!?! Christ almighty, that story just wrote itself!!!

    Speaking of journalistic standards… shouldn’t you disclose your own drinking/driving issues every time you mention those same failings in others?

    Serious question: Fannin has 2 DUI’s and an assault conviction. I take it that you are of the opinion, Hearne, that these disqualify him from serving as the editor of a major daily?
    HC: Keep those wheels a turning, Honey

  3. Anonymous says:


    I’ll bet mine is the last comment on this column.

    Nobody outside of the Star (or KCC) cares.

    Further, I submit there are some at KCC that don’t care either and are afraid to admit so.

    Now isn’t that special.
    HC: Very special. But you still lose your bet.

  4. Anonymous says:

    John Altevogt
    No, what disqualifies he and Zieman is that they’re unethical jerks who have turned a fairly decent newspaper into a rag. What disqualifies them is that they’re horrible managers who have fired some of the best reportorial talent around while retaining duds like Barbara Shelly, Lewis Diuguid, and Merriam Pepper.

    What disqualifies them is that they’re stooges for a corrupt establishment that has transformed everything from charities and community colleges to foundations into troughs for them to slop in.

    What disqualifies them is that they have squandered the vast journalistic resources given to them and published pap that looks like it came off some one’s press release.

    What disqualifies them is that they continually spike, or downplay, major stories in order to protect family, ideological soulmates and political cronies.

    What disqualifies them is that, at least Fannin, appears to have used his position inappropriately to advance the career of his mistress, never mind the circumstances of how she became his mistress.

    What disqualifies them is that they have allowed staff members to use their web site and other resources to wage personal vendettas.

    And what’s so amazing is that after Zeiman and Fannin (and before them, Brisbane) have collectively done more damage to more quality journalists than any right-wing, left-wing, or corporate cabal could have ever done, there are still journalists who come to their defense.

    Truly pathetic.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh well PT. So much for wishful thinking.

  6. Anonymous says:

    That’s telling him, MrOlathe!

  7. Anonymous says:

    If Fannin lays off Joe Blow and he believes Fannin didn’t lay off Jane Doe because she got drunk and high with him, Joe Blow is likely going to publicly complain or file a lawsuit. If Fannin survives, it can only mean Zieman’s employment is tied to Fannin. Maybe Fannin confessed everything to Zieman beforehand. Zieman has covered for his wife and now Fannin?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, John! You tell ’em! IF they disagree with you, go beat ’em up! Just like Paul Mirecki.

    How CAN Reece and Nichols keep such a whackjob on representing their company?

  9. Anonymous says:

    KCMO staffer
    Hearne, Bravo, realy. You broke an important story in this city. I don’t think Fanin is a bad, horrible man, however he can’t run a major newspaper and fire people in this economy with all that past bad history. No he never did anything that horrible, but in corp. American its all bad news, so he has to go and fast. I would file a lawsuite against the Star if I were let go now, and Fanin was my boss. You bet. So he will be let go and soon. Mostly because of your work and Jason. If it were just Jason maybe not. So nice job Hearne.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Johnny Utah
    This is good stuff. keep it up.

    honey: it’s so boring and insignificant, you can’t help yourself from reading and posting?

  11. Anonymous says:

    John Altevogt
    Love it. No one has pointed out one flaw in any factual statement pointing out either Fannin, or The Star’s many, many flaws, just comments telling us how insignificant they are as issues. If that’s the case, why even bother posting anything? In fact, why are you even reading anything about it to begin with?
    HC: Allow me, if you will, to say ‘amen.’ Like the new out-of-town Pitch editor’s column last week explaining that no one really cares about an editor they never probably heard of. Maybe that’s how the game is played in Pitch-ville but I think it demonstrated a lack of insight into the way the newspaper business works. Ethics are considered extremely important in the newspaper industry. Less so perhaps on the barstool at your neighborhood watering hole but they aren’t so much the target audience for this sort of news. My hunch; it was just a minor league case sour grapes since the Pitch largely sat out the Whitlock/Fannin saga.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well would the Pitch actually piss off the company that is printing their product?
    Editorial opinion be damned if that opinion ends your business.

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