Hearne: Anatomy of a Bogus Airport Terminal Controversy

TravelAllow me to explain how things often work in Kansas City…

Controversy is the stuff local media and political consultants thrive on. There’s nobody in the news biz I know or have worked with who doesn’t yearn to cover a good dustup. Print reporters didn’t get in the news game to make big bucks. Nor did they sign on so they could cover road closings, mundane City Hall happenings and other arguably mundane fare.

Any reporter worth his or her salt will dive headfirst into an unfolding controversy. The ones they know they won’t get them in trouble with the publisher, editor or news director anyway. Or piss off the heavy hitters they need to keep on the good side of to effectively cover their news beats.

Now let’s talk about a so-called huge controversy over the mere proposal and study of whether to go with a single terminal (instead of three) at Kansas City International Airport.

Starting with a front page story in today’s Star that dialed practically every loaded word imaginable into a lengthy diatribe attempting to turn the tale into a controversy of magnum proportions.

“Political turbulence rattles plans for a new KCI,” the  headline decries.

1iBPBB.Em.81Now bear with me while I recount how reporters Lynn Horsley and Dave Helling stacked the deck against KC Mayor Sly James and “aviation officials” that were friendly to the concept.

“Today they are stunned,” the story begins.

My dictionary defines “stunned” as, “to deprive of consciousness or strength by or as if by a blow, fall, etc.”

Too strong?

Okay, let’s dial it back to the secondary definitions.

“To astonish; astound; amaze” or “to shock; overwhelm.”

Even those hardly describe the measured reactions I’ve read or heard by James and airport officials.

Clearly the Star was swinging for the fences with as dramatic a word as they could halfway reasonably conjure.

Which is bogus.

The reporters could easily have substituted the word “surprised” and been far more accurate, if less sexy.

But make no mistake, this front pager was designed to be sexy.

Let’s continue.

News of the study “might have stirred up gale force winds.”

Gale force? Please.

We finally learn that the “gale force” came in the form of a week-old, “small group launched petition.”

A petition that “shocked” some “political observers.”

Look, rather than waste your time recounting every loaded word Horsley and Helling dialed into their yarn to ramp up the sizzle, let’s cut to the chase on the “political observers” part of the deal.

i7-per-moblog-roeLet’s see, there’s Steve Glorioso, Jeff Roe and Pat Gray.

The usual suspects. Each of whom has plenty to gain by seeing this matter swell into a “gale force” controversy.

Wanna know why?

Because guess who’s likely to be out there raking in big bucks to get the controversial single terminal plan approved? Or defeated. The bigger the controversy the bigger the fees will likely be to fund the studies and/or  campaigns for and against the issue.

To that end, these political consultants are more than happy to feed Horsley and Helling sexy sounding, unsubstantiated quotes to help bring matters to a boiling point.

It’s a game and well could be a very profitable game down the road for whomever gets hired to campaign for and against the new terminal.

Now check out what the consultants had to say:

“There’s widespread discussion everywhere I go,” Glorioso is quoted.

Well, it is in the news, why wouldn’t it be discussed.

Roe tells the Star that 67 percent of the voters he surveyed last August were opposed the single terminal. And more than 50 percent of the people Gray surveyed about a broader range of city issues said they were opposed to it when asked “one quick question.”

“One quick question?”

Here’s the problem with Roe and Gray’s so-called surveys…

While they contribute mightily to the Star‘s effort to make its story “stunning,” they’re weak as a kitten when it comes to actual substance.

Gray “would not provide specifics” for his “one quick question” survey, Helling and Horsley report.

Why not? Wouldn’t that be critical to reader’s understanding and abilitiy to weigh the significance of the survey?

And Roe “would not provide the precise language of the question” he asked in his survey, the reporters say.

Forgive me for being naive, but these aren’t the sort of polls that would appear to be wildly confidential in nature. Why not provide exactly how they were conducted – prove that they were conducted – show the sampling size, how the questions were posed and to whom?

If nothing else, we’ve learned in recent years that how a question is posed and to whom can be vital to weighing the results.

So hey, congrats to my former co-workers Dave and Lynn for getting a front page Sunday story. I doubt either is worried about getting laid off, but everybody likes to knock one out of the park every now and again.

monkeyfingafootballNext time though, how about a little less sensationalism and some more holding your sources feet to the fire?

The bottom line: Mission accomplished.

The consultants laid the groundwork for future paychecks and the Star reporters for followup stories about a raging controversy.

Unfortunately, coverage such as today’s empowers and inspires small groups to play out otherwise lightly regarded hands, while setting the stage for – wait for it – self-fulfilling prophecies.

imagine that.






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14 Responses to Hearne: Anatomy of a Bogus Airport Terminal Controversy

  1. Rainbow Man says:

    People keep saying that if you live in KC… MCI is awesome… Really? Not on Wednesday when you cannot get short term parking… so HELLO BLUE BUS..or some service… which plops you back into any other home city airport category.
    Our airport is like 150 feet thick at the bulkiest point… no room to expand better foodservice. I want the centralized security as well… Those gate pens we tolerate are ridiculous. We get a Wolfgang Puck Refrigerated sandwich? Huh? Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.

    • Chris Lyon says:

      I love the airport.
      Plan ahead if you know Wednesday parking and your appetite are going to be problems. I have never had problems with parking near the terminals.

      • Rainbow Man says:

        How do I prepare ahead? Stop scheduling trips on Wednesday? If you have never had a problem getting the best parking situation then you don’t fly out of Terminal B on Wednesday. But I do suppose if we go to the single terminal I will lose that sweet short term parking situation all seven days. But the airport needs changing… It is a dark concrete cavern with a Taqueria cantina.

        • Chris Lyon says:

          Park in another lot like The Spot. You get a free bottle of water and it is less expensive. It will cost you more time, but probably not as much as if we had single point security. You could also hire a cab if every Wednesday is a bad parking day. Or have a friend drop off/pick up on Wednesday fly out days. The short term sections rock usually.

  2. smartman says:

    With over 200,000 new people projected to be moving into the metro starting in 2014 as a result of Kansas City being “cool” because of Kanrocksas the airport situation needs to get resolved quickly. This rapid influx will increase inbound and outbound flights by 37%.

    Will the new facility be called Brandmeyer International or Kanrocksas International. Or maybe as an homage to our futbol club, Airport KC.

  3. Super Dave says:

    When it comes to the Roe’s not sure who the bigger phony is Jeff or Missy? They both should just head to the airport and fly out of here. They are just to much in love with themselves and think they know it all in their fields.

    • chuck says:

      Check out the chick who writes this blog.


      That is the wife of dude pictured above.

      If the Chiefs EVER need a new punter, that Jeff Roe dude can defininetly out kick his coverage.

      He looks like he is hanging by a thread at his Mall Cop job.

      You KNOW this guy can bullsh*t his way in and out of ANYTHING.

      • chuck says:

        BTW, here is a quote right outta the third paragraph on the first page of the “Perfect Bite” blog.

        “The meatball slider was outta this world! I’m talking melt-in-your-mouth amazing, and not just the meat but the bread too. The thick meatball is bursting with flavor and oh-so moist! It sits between two little perfectly toasted buns.”

        I rest my case.

        Never trust a guy that ugly with such a hot wife.

        What can I tell ya.

        Jimmy says we should “Soar Into The Future”.


        I like the old Airport and the old wife.

  4. harley says:

    chuck…plus 1000 on the missy roe comments.
    Was that a food blog or a hustler forum from years ago?
    Seriously….very funny.

  5. the dude says:

    I thought this was a non-issue since Lord Silverback crammed this agenda through with a bogus 74 person voting district already. He didn’t?!?!
    The developers from the penut gallery scream bloody murder for MORE PORK PLEASE!!!

  6. paulwilsonkc says:

    Hearne, you missed the best PRO airport rebuild line I’ve heard so far:

    Its for the CHILDREN!

    No, Im not making that up.

    • the dude says:

      The little chilluns GOTTA EAT PORK too wilsun, don’tcha know?

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        They need pork and they need more ACTIVITIES where they live, so they dont come to the Plaza for their “activities”. There is NO pork and NO activities between Troost and Independence to the East, they must come a few blocks West! Spread the PORK, spread the “activities”.

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