Hearne: Star Shows Political Hand, Closes Ranks on Rodeo Clown Story

o-PRESIDENTIAL-HALLOWEEN-MASKS-facebookUptown Theater main man Larry Sells isn’t the only conspiracy on the loose…

When it comes to what passes for the “mainstream press,” there are plenty of people convinced that the deck is stacked against Republicans and conservatives with liberal leaning reporters and columnists itching to lay the pipe to them whenever they get the chance.

And after spending 20 combined years at the Pitch and Kansas City Star I can tell you that for the most part those fears are generally warranted. As evidenced by the closing of ranks at 18th and Grand yesterday on the Obama Rodeo Clown Controversy.

Starting with the front page story with a headline noting that the incident had been “widely condemned” and that the event’s sponsor would be required to take “sensitivity training” if it wanted to take part in future fairs.

On and on the Star story and handwringing went with anybody and everybody who wanted to weigh in with their outrage getting their say in a “news” story that not only piled on, but made no effort whatsoever to offer a balancing voice.

Not one.

So much for even handedness.

Naturally there was an editorial condemning the gag for, among other things, being well-received by the audience. As though they had been celebrating at a lynching or something.

“A poor reflection of Missouri; Nothing humorous about clown rodeo skit,” read the headlines atop the Star’s unsigned editorial.

“A disgraceful black-face episode at the Missouri State Fair, aimed at ridiculing President Barack Obama, has cast the state in a negative light,” it began. “It was bad enough that the clown, whose name has not been released, wore a mask caricaturing Obama into the ring to be chased by a bull. Videos and stories, which went viral on the Internet, sadly showed that much of the crowd in Sedalia got a kick out of the stunt.”

1337256000000.cachedOh, horror.

Big deal, a crowd of largely political conservatives got a laugh out of a silly attempt at political satire. How very predictable.

Look, we all know how this game is played. Once the race card is dealt, it’s down periscope for everybody who is anybody in the public eye, and members of both parties were running for cover as the local and national media PC police closed in.

Calls “sensitivity training” of Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association officials and clowns were demanded and the president of the association stepped down in the hopes of retaining his real job as the superintendent of the Boonville School District. Naturally, the school distric hired an investigator to look into his role in the incident.
Nevermind that in 1994 a similar rodeo gag involving a dummy wearing a George H.W. Bush mask went down. 

“The crowd cheered,” read a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence.”

Where was the outrage then?

Oh, that’s right, I almost forgot. Wearing a George Bush mask isn’t tantamount to wearing blackface or participating in a Klu Klux Klan rally.

Give credit to lightly read Local section columnist Mary Sanchez for at least trying to breath some sanity into the rodeo clown media lynching.

“Watching the rodeo crowd get riled up was the worst part, mostly because it didn’t seem to take much cajoling on the clown’s part,” Sanchez writes. “But it is hardly worthy of mass outrage, coaxed along by the Internet or otherwise.

“There hasn’t been a U.S. president in the last 50 years who hasn’t had a mocking plastic mask produced of his face. If you doubt, wait a few months for Halloween.

“Political cartoonists have long sketched presidents with exaggerated expressions, posing in slapstick charades. Depending on your political leanings, you either think the work is a hoot or it’s offensive. The same thing has occurred around the Missouri clown incident. Much of the commentary separated into either Obama supporters or antagonists. And the name-calling flew from there.”

So yeah, predictably Sanchez had to get her digs in given her obvious political leaning, but at least she was able to step back and put the matter the proper perspective.

Because outside of the media gang bang, it was really no big deal.



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41 Responses to Hearne: Star Shows Political Hand, Closes Ranks on Rodeo Clown Story

  1. John Altevogt says:

    I find it amazing that a newspaper would take such a hostile, anti-First Amendment position on what has become a commonplace incident for every president. It truly demonstrates the totalitarian mentality that prevails in almost every instance at The Star.

    I also agree that one can count on Sanchez for the most rational output on virtually every topic. She was the one they sent forth to defend that idiot Hendricks when O’Reilly ripped him a new one and she did an excellent job. Good column, Hearne (said John, poisoning the well).

  2. kansas karl says:

    There is NO 1st amendment involved in this issue, the “officials” who run the rodeo and the fair claim they had no idea what was going on, the clown did it all. If that is the case the clown violated his terms of employment, albeit after the fact, and was fired, the clown had NO 1st amendment rights violated, he was in the employ of the rodeo and the fair and they are the ones with 1st amendment rights in this issue and they fired him, end of story about the 1st amendment.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Karl, lets call a spade a spade here. If they planned a Obama clown and he was going to go out and joust with the bull, don’t you think everyone involved knew “why” they were doing it? Do you really think there was a surprise of some kind here?
      I think the good ole boys thought this would be funny, it got a big crowd reaction and little did they know, now they world is watching.
      At that point, as with any good murder mystery, the CLOWN did it!

      • hardly says:

        are ewe caling Obama a spade…….ewe are even a biger raceist than eye thouhgt……..jus and angrey old archie bunker wannabe wite boy………ewe maek me sick………ewe only liek other old angrey wite lusers liek yourself………go back two the 1950s were ewe belong……..kwit living in the past an git on wit youre life………….its not obamas fault that ewe hav faled at everything ewe hav done in life………hahahahahahahahahahahaha

  3. paulwilsonkc says:

    This was a red neck rodeo in Central Undershirt, Missouri. What about the countless satires, parodies and put downs of Bush on SNL? Some were brutal, most showed him as a buffoon, many times with cause, but broadcast to a national audience. Not a Missouri rodeo.

    Same as the Obama clown, it was satire, a parody.

    Speaking to a local, liberal friend, I was told the clown was in “black face”, also a term used to instantly whip the conversation into frenzy. Well, no, it wasn’t black face, it was a caricature mask. They have been Halloween staples for each sitting President for years. I’m sorry it was black, the President is black.

    His reply to that was. “FINE, so it was a mask, but it had HUGE lips!”

    Yes, it did, that’s the key element behind a caricature; it exaggerates facial or body traits. I’m just so over this double standard. Bush was shown with a long face, enormous ears or both. Big ears on a white guy, fair game; big lips on a black man, RACIST!

    And wait, it’s about to get worse! We have Hillary teed up to be the first female President, if the brewing Clinton Global Initiative financial wrong doing scandal finds light of day, which it won’t; hello White Water. With her successful run, we won’t be able to say any more critical of her than you can Obama, as she will be a first too. Then it will be our first Gay President, our first Hispanic President, and our first married gay President.

    Batten the hatches; it’s going to be a long ride.

    But…if the Republicans slip a candidate into Presidential office in the next decade, you can assume all bets will be off and full speed ahead on any form of put downs you choose to use.

    It’ll be OK then, even if the President is a bi-racial black/Hispanic, gay, married nun.

    • harley says:

      plus 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

    • Sergent Shriver Stedenko says:

      It’ll be OK then, even if the President is a bi-racial black/Hispanic, gay, married nun.

      So it’ll be Marco Rubio then? The guy who, like a humping dog, never stops locking eyes with you while drinking his water.

  4. mark smith says:

    Don’t forget Yael who wrote that there was very likely a crime commited by said clown. The non incident was too ripe for picking and the mainstream media just couldn’t resist. That cackling annoying Dana Wright and her man bitch Scott Parks spent an entire show making caustic remarks about the entire Sedalia area, called them all backwoods hillbillies from banjo country. Meanwhile not so much as a whimper has been made about senator Rangle calling tea party members crackers comparable to Bull Connor. The feigned outrage from the left is ludicrous.

  5. The alleged left slant of the mainstream media is such a myth. Just today, the allegedly left-leaning New York Times ran an exclusive story on the troubled finances of the Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation. That story has so far been picked up by Fox News. Last time I checked, Fox News is a part of the mainstream media. And never mind that I’m not seeing the story being picked up anywhere else in the mainstream media. Chalk that up to more pressing matters to report on, such as the Sedalia rodeo clown.

  6. Irishguy says:

    Not to quibble Hearne, but George H.W. Bush was not a sitting president in 1994.

    That aside, you are also missing another key difference between 1994 and 2013 — the Internet was in its infancy, and Smartphones weren’t even invented yet.

    And THAT is the story you are missing — how this story spread so quickly.

    Consider the sequence. One guy from Higginsville is offended by the performance, so he takes video of it with his phone. He drives home that night and pastes it on his Facebook account (also not around in 1994), where it is picked up by his buddy, a blogger (also few and far between in 1994).

    From there, the thing goes viral practically before the sun rises Sunday morning. It reaches the AP and from their the mainstream media, and politicians from BOTH parties line up to condemn it. (Hint: when Peter Kinder is one of those politicians, it is safe to say it was “widely condemned.”)

    Before mid-day, the State Fair, the Rodeo Association and even the clown himself are issuing apologies, so intense was the heat.

    We’re living in a new era of how information is disseminated, and it surprises me that a blogger has missed that.

    And incidentally, if you have to go back 19 years to find a single instance of a rodeo clown wearing the mask of a Republican, I think it is safe to say it doesn’t happen very often.

    And this “oh yeah? Well there side did it too!” is childish to the extreme. It reminds me of people trying to excuse Rush Limbaugh for calling Sandra Fluke a slut because Andrew Dice Clay told sexist jokes, too.

    • david says:


      Don’t forget that SNL parodies and editorial cartoons are not funded by state governments. MO state fair is.

      • david says:

        and don’t forget the humble scribe can’t help himself but bash past employers…

        • Irishguy says:

          Now that we have discussed HOW this particular clown performance went viral with communications technology that wasn’t around 19 years ago, perhaps we can consider WHY it went viral.

          Could it be that thousands upon thousands of people, including the REPUBLICAN Lt. Gov. of the State of Missouri, found the performance deeply offensive, even if Hearne Christopher and Paul Wilson can’t even begin to understand that?

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        David, you mean like this little gem, done in a public school with tax payer dollars? Its gotta go both ways…. Barrack H Obama, mmm, mmm, mmm


        • david says:

          OMG! The schools are indoctrinating our youth with chants of support for the President! That fall he even had the audacity to tell them to stay in school.

          … I expect better from you Paul

          • paulwilsonkc says:

            David, that “chant” sounds like something out of Cuba… come on man, I know youre in love with the guy, but lets look at some of it on balance! Thats just way erie.

        • Irishguy says:

          Apples, meet oranges and meet Paul Wilson.

          Dude, if that’s the best you can do to draw what you think is a parallel, give it up. You’re not very good at it.

          • paulwilsonkc says:

            Irish, we have an imperialistic president in the making. He’s beyond criticism, ridicule or satire. This rodeo could have done Bush when he was in office and NO ONE outside the gates of that rodeo would have ever known.
            This “clown” has been threatened, I bet he gets audited by the IRS and the announcer will most likely be forced to resign from his real job over this.
            Answer on honest question if you want a direct comparison; any chance this would be on every national talk show today if that clown would have tucked it up as Bush?
            Not a chance.

          • Irishguy says:

            Who the hell says this or any president is beyond criticism, ridicule or satire, Paul? Save it for the college sophomores?

            We’re talking about the performance of a rodeo clown that even Republicans agree went way beyond the pale. I’m sorry you can’t wrap your brain around why people would find that offensive, or that Hearne has to turn everything into a diatribe against the Star.

            But at least you could attempt to respect the opinions of those who disagree with you without hinting that they are the unthinking pawns of an imperial president who, according to the Constitution, will leave office in January 2017.

          • Irishguy says:

            Oh and to answer your questionL “any chance this would be on every national talk show today if that clown would have tucked it up as Bush?”

            What a short memory we have. Remember when Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said in London that she was ashamed George Bush was from Texas? Yep, nothing at all happened after that.

            Or during the 2004 campaign when moveon.org had a contest for a commercial, and some doofus uploaded one showing Bush as a Nazi? They took it down nearly immediately, but it was still discussed for weeks.

            So don’t give me this crap that anything should go. People also have a First Amendment right to speak out against that which they find offensive, and in this case, multitudes are speaking out.

            That’s the way free speech works.

  7. Rick Nichols says:

    Are you sure it wasn’t Karl Rove who wrote “Send in the Clowns”?

  8. chuck says:

    There are literally thousands of stories that the main stream media will not cover because of the liberal agenda.


    This one is so horrible, yet nothing on the national news desks at ABC NBC, CBS, CNN etc etc.

    The Kansas City Star’s agenda is now, has been and will be a dramatically liberal narrative that is so drenched in condescension, obfuscation and the “Presumptive Close” that any semblance of legitimacy is left lying in your drive way day after day.

    You should do yourself a favor and leave the paper their too.

  9. kansas karl says:

    objective news is now liberal……

  10. paulwilsonkc says:

    “Who the hell says this or any president is beyond criticism, ridicule or satire, Paul? Save it for the college sophomores?
    We’re talking about the performance of a rodeo clown that even Republicans agree went way beyond the pale.”

    These two comments seem to contridict each other.

    I think what was done was over the line. The Dixie Chicks make music, they made the comment, suffered the consequences in their act.
    The announcer works for the public school system, he announces as a side line hobby. He’s being threatened with his job now, it seems.

    So while you say no president is beyond satire, if this guy loses his real job in the real world, apparently SOME people think he’s beyond it.
    Not a sophmoric issue.

  11. PB says:

    I’ll stay out of the political pissing match, but literally EVERYTHING that happens in the world these days, no matter how inconsequential, is seemingly met with moral outrage from one side or the other. And damn, if I read or hear the First Amendment wrongfully referenced again (classic, the very FIRST comment in this thread no less), I’m going to gauge my eyes out and pierce my fcking eardrums into silence.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      How insensitive of you to make racist comments at the expense of blind and deaf.
      I am morally outraged!
      Your lack of “impathy” is a sign of being a sociopath, as I was told in an earlier comment by an earlier commenter.

  12. Orphan of the Road says:

    It is not the media being left-oriented but rather their denial that they lean that way. Faux News is not shy about their bonafides but the lefties deny their preference.

    And the proof is in the pudding.

    But the electronic media and news cannot be used in the same sentence and have that sentence be correct.

    The major news outlets are a leisure service for the parent company. They give the authors and others whom the conglomerate wish to promote a platform.

    First rule of comedy, it has to be funny to work. While having a sitting president face off against a bull is something half the people would enjoy, not if the presentation is soooo bad it makes them squirm.

    Paul, when didn’t we have an imperialistic person living in the White House?

  13. mike says:

    I’m am a conservative and I will agree that the rodeo clown was in very poor taste. So was Whoopi Goldberg when W was called a retarded cowboy. Being ridiculed goes with the territory. Some of it will be clever and funny. Some of it will be crude and mean spirited. I am glad, however, that we live in a country where we are allowed to poke fun at our elected leaders. Many around the world are not so fortunate.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Mike, we are able to do so…. if you don’t mind being banned from your sport or fired from your DAY job, totally unassociated with your rodeo gig. Thats whats increasingly concerning to me.

      • mike says:

        Your concern is the same as mine. Many, in the name of political correctness believe you should have a right to express your opinion, as long as it is the same as theirs. Obama should not be exempt from criticism or ridicule just because he is half Black. I mentioned Whoopi Goldberg calling George W. Bush a retarded cowboy. She now says it is disrespectful to make fun of the President and makes us look stupid to the rest of the world. It’s amazing how she got that epiphany after her guy got elected. Martin Luther King wanted people to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. If that is the case, Obama should be treated the same as any other President and be open to both praise and criticism, admiration and ridicule. That has always been part of our culture as a nation.

      • david says:

        Not to worry Paul, TX steps up and welcomes him. Who knows, he just might be the next Congressman down there…


  14. kansas karl says:

    The joys of the Daily Show, taking current comments and replaying comments from nearly every politician and celebrity showing how they have changed their mind or have no personal memory of what they have said as it fit the discourse of the day.

    And again objective news is liberal

  15. Goose13 says:

    Listen, was it in bad taste. Yes. Most jokes of the president, past and present, are in bad taste. THE PRESIDENT CAN HANDLE IT. He has a lot of other shit to worry about. Damn, he would take a rodeo clown over North Korea, Terrorists, Iran any day of the fucking week. If the politicans and the media spent as much time on this than the problems this country is facing, a whole lot of things would fucking get done!! Fuck the media and Fuck the politicans. I would love the media to just report the facts once in the next year and would love the politicans to pull their heads out of their ass and actuall get something done. I know, that is asking way to much.

  16. Patriot says:

    Mike at 11:19, you are exactly correct. And I don’t care how much the libs defend it, what the Star is doing by continuing to post drivel by their “columnists” and refusing to allow feedback shows just what a pitiful rag it is.

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