Once upon a time, there was a Kansas City Star columnist almost nobody above the age of 15 or under 70 ever much read…
Perhaps you’ve heard of her, Jeneé Osterheldt.
Don’t get me wrong, I know Jenee and she’s a perfectly wonderful young woman. Attractive, smart, fun, one couldn’t say enough kind words about her.
Just one problem…
While she definitely could write, she really didn’t have much of any consequence to say. And for her troubles she was rewarded by some of the cruelest online butchering by the Pitch and other social media “watchdogs” who loved little more than to pillory poor Jenee.
I held off criticizing her publicly as long as I could – given our having worked together for many years – until it was impossible not to. Such as the time she wrongly and naively went to bat for St. Louis bad boy Michael Brown a couple years back. Osterheldt jumped on Brown’s bandwagon well before critical facts of the case were learned in a classic case of misguided racism.
Well, Osterheldt’s gone now to the land of free rides where she will study – wait for it – “theories of discrimination.”
Unfortunately, about all that’s left in the way of news columnists at 18th and Grand – aside from former TV news politico Dave Helling – is a woman named Mary Sanchez.
That’os right, and if there’s one thing the Star doesn’t need it’s a buzz kill column on the inside front page. Seriously.
Yet for some mysterious reason, that’s exactly what the local newspaper of record has – in the form of Sanchez’s “what’s wrong with the world today” opinion column.
For years, Sanchez has served as the newsroom’s titular woman/hispanic columnist. To understand her longevity and value to a core group of largely aging white male editors, you have to understand that diversity – finding slots for women and people of color – has been a longstanding obsession at 18th and Grand since the early 1990s when I first joined the newspaper.
In a nutshell, the Star has a 25-plus year tradition of hiring and promoting underwhelming women and people of color, based largely on political correctness and the desire to have enough minorities on the news staff to enable them to preach and talk down to conservative Kansas Citians.
Dare I rattle off the names some of the lesser writers?
Besides Sanchez and Osterheldt, try Jennifer Howe, Lewis Diuguid and Steve Penn.
All of them ascended the ranks of the newspaper, inexplicably managing to survive despite having very little in the way of appeal to most readers.
However, not only has Sanchez managed to survive, she’s now the poster child for weakly thought out, preachy columns championing boring, liberal points of view.
On the inside front page of the newspaper, for gosh sakes.
Worse yet, Sanchez is now what passes for the primary news section columnist, even though about the last thing one expects to find in one of her columns is anything approaching actual local news and commentary.
Anybody remember a dude named Art Brisbane?
As a columnist, Brisbane married local and regional news and views and kept Star readers abreast of anything and everything going on in the metro area. He kept them guessing as well. You never knew what or who might show up in one of his colorful and informative columns.
Brisbane didn’t waste readers time wagging his finger at them, telling them how to be politically correct whether they liked it or not. Nor did he prattle on and on bashing or lauding whoever was running for president.
He informed and entertained.
Which is about the last thing on Sanchez’s column writing checklist.
Her mission is to state the obvious and then basically instruct and/or scold readers who may not see things her way.
Take Sanchez’ column, “Sexually assaulted women in jails, prisons need attention, not apathy.”
Or how about, “Donald Trump can’t fix what he doesn’t know about African-American, Latino voters.”
There’s a riveting topic for a local news section columnist.
And speaking of topics of interest to area readers, who cares what Sanchez happens to think about “Donald Trump hiring a woman to clean up his mess” or her Clinton endorsement column, “Hillary Clinton to Donald trump: Game On!”
“The contenders are formally set for the 2016 presidential election: Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump,” Sanchez writes. “Their vast differences in political experience, knowledge of global affairs and the U.S. economy — not to mention personal maturity — make Clinton the easy choice at the polls.”
Or how about, “Donald Trump’s strongman fantasy is deeply un-American.”
Am I mistaken, or don’t those last few columns belong on the newspaper’s editorial page?
What makes Star editors think those topics belong in the main news section of the newspaper or that local readers want yet another helping of liberal news bias as opposed to actual news?
You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Check out Sanchez’ column, “Fear of a female administration? We’ll see”
“The unsettling reality is that Donald Trump can get elected to the White House by being a jerk,” Sanchez preaches. “Hillary Clinton cannot. Voters need to like female candidates more than they do male candidates. They can dislike a man running for office and still regard him as qualified and electable.”
Not to leave any anti Donald Trump stones unturned, on Saturday Sanchez ranted that, “Trump’s tirade sells out America’s finest ideals.”
All of which makes it painfully obvious that there is no liberal bias in the mainstream news media.
Seriously though, who at 18th and Grand thinks Sanchez endless pro Hillary, anti Trump rants are the stuff readers want and belong in the news – not editorial section – of the Star?
Here’s the bottom line: just about anybody can cock back and rattle off what they think about the current state of the world. That’s why God invented barstools.
How about giving readers some news and information mixed with scintillating opinions about people, places and things going on in and around Kansas City? And leave the Trump bashing in the capable hands of MSNBC and CNN.
Just a thought…
Or how about this; maybe give Sanchez a blog and see how few hits she gets!