Hearne: Steve Glorioso & the Dark Side of Journalism

Journalists are like zoo animals, they love to be fed…

Their meal of choice: Raw meat, as in off-the-record dirt that makes their jobs easier and more fun. Pretty simple, really.

And few folks in the Cowtown were more adept at feeding and kissing up to reporters than political hit man Steve Glorioso.

Hence the smattering of posthumous attaboys that have been cropping up since the G Man checked out last week. Pretty much all served up by – none other than (you guessed it) – journalists!

Hey, it’s cheaper than sending funeral flowers!

All of that said, don’t be fooled: Glorioso was not one of the so-called “good guys”

He was little more than an amoral, ruthless political insider with zero compunction about lying and breaking what few rules there are in politics today. All in the interest of making a fist full of dollars and harvesting whatever smug satisfaction garnered from his insidious gamesmanship.

“He was just a political hack for whoever paid him the most money,” says Westport businessman Bill Nigro. “He’d do whatever he had to do to make a buck and it didn’t matter to him who got steamrolled or if it was good for Kansas City.”

The nicest thing Nigro can say about Glorioso?

“I don’t know if I can think of anything,” Nigro says. “I’m glad he’s gone.”

As for me…

I first met Glorioso in the early days of converting The Pitch from a record store rag into an alternative newsweekly.

He rolled into our dinky office one day in 1986 bearing gifts; a pre written political hit piece, complete with editorial cartoon art.

All we had to do, Steve told us, was publish it without attributing it to him.

Uh, sorry Steve…that’s not the way journalism’s supposed to work.

Glorioso however saw nothing wrong with political hackery disguised as actual news.

A couple years later he took that same ethical philosophy to the next level by buying alt weekly The New Times from Crossroads KC promoter Brett Mosiman.

Unfortunately the cost of deceiving the public proved far too great – the New Times and Pitch were serious red ink machines back then – and almost immediately Glorioso was beside himself trying to dump the publication off on some other sucker (which he did to an unsuspecting local businessman who ran it for a year or two before shutting it down).

And let the record show that Glorioso was a master schmooze artist when it came to kissing up to younger writers and journalist wannabes.

He would accompany my inexperienced, fledgling Pitch staff for drinks after work to Lucille’s on Westport Road where he would weave inspiring tales involving his brushes with JFK and other Democratic luminaries from the 1960s and 70s..

I remember early on in my time at the Kansas City Star when the editor issued a decree that because Glorioso had become so skilled at spoon feeding and hoodwinking reporters he was banned as a source.

That’s how good he was at his deceptive craft.

“He was a good political consultant, one of the better ones in Kansas City,” Nigro says. “I’m not going to deny that.”

I remember talking several years ago to former Star columnist/editor/ publisher Art Brisbane about Glorioso. And asking, what lead to him becoming so jaded and conniving when at the same time he could be so charming and interesting.

Brisbane’s answer: That early on Steve had been inspired by the Democrat political heroes from the ’60s, but somewhere along the way he lost his moral compass and got caught up in the win at all cost aspect of the game.

So let the piling on with plaudits continue – the post mortem high fives from all the political writers whose daily work grinds Glorioso made so much easier.

But let’s at least call a spade a spade…

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12 Responses to Hearne: Steve Glorioso & the Dark Side of Journalism

  1. boom boom says:

    Hearne:
    Please tell me what rules are left in politics (whether it be republican or democrat).
    Should be a very short list!
    Hearne:
    Please tell me what rules are left in any industry today (whether it be liberal or conservative) like the banks/credit reporting agencies/insurance companies or big pharma or big corps.
    Should be a very short list.
    Hearne:
    Please tell me what rules are left in society. Glad the guys on kcc are not long
    for the world and that no one listens to them. Maybe the millenials will change the
    world after all!

    • admin says:

      There may indeed be precious few rules in any area of society – with the possible exception of political correctness – but some of the stuff that Steve and his buddy Pat Gray pulled off were so far below the belt, they were mind-blowing even in what’s left of today’s morals free society

  2. Stomper says:

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion HC. Not too shocking that a Republican like yourself who carries a continuing grudge against the Star (who had been favorable towards Glorioso) would be so brutal here. I doubt you would have any problems with Jeff Roe who is known for the same type of tactics, because he shares your side of the aisle. I trust your journalistic opinions but you are beyond naive with regards to your political acumen if you think Steve did anything for his clients that is not done across the board. Steve has been involved in a large number of the local activities beyond just individual campaigns. The Sprint Center and the ensuing development of the P&L district were very much impacted by Steve’s involvement. He was a very sharp guy that felt strongly about the city. You say to disregard the positive comments about him because those people are just being polite now that he just passed. However we are supposed to give credibility to Westport bar owner Bill Nigro, who you source for about half your pieces? I wonder if Bill ended up on the losing side of an issue that Steve won?

    “However Glorioso saw nothing wrong with political hackery disguised as actual news”
    Guess that made him ahead of his times based on today’s politics.

    • admin says:

      Easy Stomps, you’re making some assumptions which – as we were both taught by a certain 7th grade history teacher – “makes an ass out of you and me.”

      For starters I’m not a Republican – haven’t been since a child.

      Would it surprise you that I voted for Obama twice? Apparently.

      Or that I voted once for Ralph Nader and once for Ross Perot?

      But by all means, feel free to try and pigeonhole me.

      Secondly, I harbor no grudge toward the Star. I’ve long been a pretty outspoken media critique and was equally hard on the Star when I was running the Pitch. I also was as critical as I was allowed to be of the Star while writing my column there. I regularly took opposing points of view on wheat other reporters there wrote – across the board, by the way.

      Dunno much about Jeff Roe, because unlike Glorioso I’ve had zero dealings with him. I dealt with Glorioso in every way imaginable long before I ever got to or left the Star. And unlike you, i’ll wager, I got to know him quite well – on and off the record.

      And of the many things that might be said of me, not sure naive is anywhere near the top of the list.

      If you recall, I said something like “what few” rules and or ethics there are in politics.

      But if you’d like to know a specific or three about some of the underhanded, ridiculously unethical and possibly illegal things Steve did, call me. I’ll not print them here – not now anyway and you can judge my naivety.

      You don’t think writing a hit piece and trying to get a news organization to mindlessly publish it as though it were actual journalism isn’t a tad unethical?

      The Sprint center, etc was a Kay Barnes deal with lots of help from various friends, Steve being one.

      He was a sharp guy but he was a follow the money guy first and foremost.

      Brisbane knew Glorioso quite well, far better than you I suspect. And re read what Art said about him.

      I dare say I knew him far better than you and had dealings with him and multiple sources who interacted with him in every way imaginable over a 30 year period.

      Again, you are incorrect in stating that I said people were just being polite about Steve dying.

      Dead wrong.

      I wrote that specific reporters who were on the receiving end of his wealth of rumors, news tips, innuendo and at times untrue gossip were the ones paying him tribute.

      Not a single one of them tipped their hat to him that wasn’t on the receiving end. Every single one of them had their hand out and benefited by him feeding them both information and misinformation.

      Geez Stomps, try reading a little more closely next time.

  3. Frank says:

    Hearne, will you die soon. I really wanna let you have it. I promise I won’t be kind. You’ll understand, right?

  4. chuck says:

    I only watched him (Glorioso) on “Ruckus” occasionally where he was repugnant, condescending and smarmy. His attacks there, against his political opponents and policy, were bumper sticker, repetitive, sloganeering talking points handed down from his Progressive, Thought Leader betters on the national stage. Based with always a nod towards any opportunity for an ad hominem attack, he was an unoriginal, predictable mid level shill for unoriginal, predictable low level Progressive thought.

  5. Rainbow Man says:

    Did Glorioso make that much money? Maybe he did. But he did not spend it on clothes.

  6. Mysterious J says:

    Junior spitting on the graves of the recently deceased is pretty much the only reason I check this place out once a week or so.

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