Today: William Allen White Stubs Toe, Raveonettes & KU vs. K-State

True or false? The dude KU named its journalism school after nearly murdered the mayor of Kansas City..

 Answer: Who the F knows? Revered journalist William Allen White may have cast a big shadow in his day, but when it comes to the reporting of this alleged incident, he clearly dropped the ball. Every KU journalism freshmen knows you’re supposed to cover the 5 W’s when reporting a story.

Who, followed by What, Where, When & Why.

But when White sat down to pen his autobiography prior to his death in 1944, he spit out up a silly sounding story about rescuing Kansas City Star publisher William Rockhill Nelson by throwing a mayor down a flight of stairs.

That’s right, a flight of stairs.

The question is, which mayor.  Celebrated journalist that he was, White messed up and left out the mayor’s name. Along with what city he was mayor of. Oh and the date it happened.

And they named a journalism school after him?

Meanwhile back in the here and now,, the Star chose to dredge this story up – not once but twice last year. An account of the alleged incident was posted on the newspaper’s Web site last February in a story called "Nine famous Star employees."

Then on Christmas Day, Star publisher Mark Zieman tossed it out again in order to take a backhanded pot shot at current KC mayor Mark Funkhouser. "Today, we try to avoid throwing mayors down our stairs," Zieman said smugly.

Here’s the problem..

The Star has the story wrong on its Web site and based on what White wrote it sounds fishy to begin with.

"White worked at The Star between the ages of 24 and 27, from 1892 to 1895 when he bought the Emporia Gazette,KCC’s Jim Fitzpatrick says.,"So, based on your research, the assaulting mayor would have been one of two men — William S. Cowherd, a Democrat, who served from 1892 to 1894, or Webster Davis, a Republican, who served from 1894 to 1896. We may never know which of the two it was."

If, in fact, it was either.

Again, because White blew the basic journalism of reporting the mayor’s name. He didn’t leave anybody else’s name out. Nelson is named, as is managing editor Tommy Johnston, city editor Ralph Stout,, some dude named Phillips who was telegraph editor and "a white-haired boy named Siested."

 Just not the mayor – the single most important name, without whom there would’ve been no story.

 "That throws the whole thing into an amorphous era, so it’s very difficult to pin it down," says one former Star higher up. "By leaving the mayor’s name out, it makes it very hard to prove or disprove it. There should be a definitive accdount of this but by not putting the date or mayor’s name, they shroud it as just being a weird, bizarre episode in Kansas City Star history."

Weak as White’s journalism was here, it’s surprising the Star’s still trying to sell the story to the public.

And there’s an error in the "Nine Famous Employees" story. It reads: "White and The Star‘s managing editor grabbed the mayor, threw him down the stairs and then worked to put out an extra edition about the incident,"

Untrue.

White’s bio says as the unnamed mayor exited the building, "all hands began telling the story of the assault. It was in time for the first edition and we had it on the streets in no time."

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RAVEONETTES ALERT

Park this in the back of your brain: One of my favorite bands, The Raveonettes, is coming to the Record Bar in Westport in April. The Danish alt rock duo features Sune Rose Wagner on guitar and Sharin Foo on guitar, vocals and other instruments. So what if it’s a promotional schmooze for Ink magazine (most of whose readers have likely never heard of the band). Don’t miss it.

WAS THAT JASON WHITLOCK IN TODAY’S CHIEFS PLAYOFF EXTRA?

I”m not much into sports these days, but I try and keep an eye on things for the betterment of mankind.Take the column atop Page 2 of the Star‘s Chiefs special section.

At a glance, the column pic of a portly black dude makes it look like they’d invited Whitlock back and he was still pissed about Star editor Mike Fannin slobbering all over those other male reporter’s necks.

But while Whitlock is undoubtedly still pissed, it wasn’t him.

It was Baltimore sports columnist Mike Preston. Preston was enlisted to pimp Chiefs fans who still get their sports daily  – a day late. Predictably, Preston guaranteed his Ravens would win.

Anybody think he was going to wave a white flag?

Kansas City "might be pretending more than contending," Preston pressed.

Wonder what Whitlock’s up to in LA or wherever these days?.

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AU CONTRAIRE

The jump headline in today’s Star sports section reminds of the pre-basketball season forecast of Lawrence audio/video guru John Kiefer.

Today’s header: "KSU: Martin still confident team can win the Big 12"

Now what Kiefer predicted"

"I’ll bet you anything you wanna bet, when KU plays K-State they’ll beat ’em. K-State’s ranked higher (in the preseason) because they got farther last year in the NCAA tournament. But they’ve only got one great player back, Jacob Pullen. And they lost two players.

"KU lost three players that went to the pros, so it looked like we lost more," Kiefer continued. "But we had a lot more depth than K-State last year. We had players on the bench last year that were better than K-Sate’s starters. And we beat ’em last year three times."

For the record, we didn’t bet…

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3 Responses to Today: William Allen White Stubs Toe, Raveonettes & KU vs. K-State

  1. bschloz says:

    Pork Chop
    Funny stuff Hearne. …I did the double take too..mind is a funny thing…..thought Hell froze over and Whitlock got his job back.

  2. ds says:

    wrong, wrong, wrong.
    The story is pretty well recounted in “Tom’s Town: Kansas City and the Pendergast Legend” By William M. Reddig. In fact, if you look here – http://bit.ly/dRI5x1 – the book is online, and not hard to find – and go to page 42-42 the story is told there. The mayor’s name was Joseph Jackson Davenport and he was mayor in 1889-90. While there are different versions of the story, which is often the case in many such encounters, there is general agreement that it happened.

    “Drop the cuspidor, Ralph Stout! Put that spittoon down!”

    So that makes you pretty much wrong in this case, Hearne.

    Ever heard of research? Of course, I know you have, but apparently you’ve forgotten its benefits.You should really try it.

  3. hilarious! says:

    mmmm, tasty crow! delicious for Hearne and hilarious for us.

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