It’s like this…
Unhappy with how the Kansas City Star blithely presented the results of a recent study about the smoking ban having no measurable effect on bars and restaurants, KC Business Rights Coalition head Bill Nigro took it to the next level.
"I called up Jessie Barker, the editor of the reporter who wrote the story," Nigro says. "And I told him all I got was like two sentences in there about making people go outside like animals to smoke and how now people werre outside drunk and unattended to."
Nigro’s quotes were accurate, but were asides in a 20 minute presentation citing examples of small businesses hurt by the ban.
Long story short, the editor agreed to have columnist Mike Hendricks call him and do a followup story.
Here’s where it gets ugly…
Hendricks interviewed Nigro and a couple bar owners who have taken business hits because of the ban, but when it came time for Mad Mike to synthesize Nigro and the Kansas City Business Rights Coalition’s complaints, he blew it.
"He couldn’t have gotten it more wrong – more incorrect," Nigro says. "Because that is not our position."
Here’s where Hendricks stubbed his toe…
"Naturally, no one expects the KC smoking ban to go away," Hendricks wrote. "The message Nigro’s group wants to impress on candidates attending City Council and mayoral screenings this week and next is that they deserve a fair shake by:
A: Making the casinos’ exemption to the smoking ban go away.
B: Working to get a statewide ban in Missouri — like the one in Kansas — so the bar owner in Kansas City, North, won’t lose customers to a tavern three blocks away in Gladstone, where smoking is still allowed."
"That’s not what Bill Nigro or the Business Rights Coalition want," Nigro says. "That’s what the Star wants. The Kansas City Star will never tell the truth about the smoking ban – never.
"All we said was, we want to have a level playing field and he assumed that that was the only alternative we have. But it’s not. Mike assumed that was the only solution for us but in doing so he put words in our mouths that just aren’t there."
So Nigro bellied up to the corrections bar and spoke for 15 minutes or so with controversial Star editor Mike Fannin.
"We got a clarification," Nigro moans. "The clarification was really simple. It basically said that not everyone in the Business Rights group was in favor of a statewide smoking ban."
That do the trick?
"No, not even close," Nigro says. "Because our organization is not in favor of a statewide smoking ban and we’re not in favor of eliminating smoking at the casinos. We’re not in favor of either of those."
The bottom line: Hendricks dodged the "correction" bullet by talking his editor into a "clarification" even though it was an flagrant error.
"It was a major mistake," Nigro says.
Nigro’s message to Hendricks:
"I’m just still mad that he would make something up like that and just stick it in there. Give us a correction. This makes two mistakes in a row. When’s the Star gonna quit making mistakes and when will they admit they made a mistake? To me, if you gotta make a correction, you make the correction. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal.
Worse yet, "They didn’t even clarify or correct i t online," Nigro says. "And I think more people read it online now than get the newspaper. So everybody who reads the Star online thinks that’s our position and it’s not."
The latest: Nigro called Star reader rep Derek Donovan to plead his case for both online and print corrections.
"Man, that guy’s hostile," Nigro says. "He’s a dick. I just told him what the deal was and he said, ‘That’s not what I was told. I heard we corrected it.’ And I said, ‘No you didn’t. You put a clarification in, not a correction.’ So he took my number and said he’s going to call me back."