OTC: KC Star’s Kent Babb Talks Frankly About The “Corrupt” & “Shameful” Sports Media In KC

Chris Kamler [aka @FakeNedYost] and Jeff Herr interviewed the Chiefs’ beat writer for The Kansas City Star, Kent Bab, on their January 25th podcast for Royalmanreport.com. The interview covered a number of topics, including Babb’s controversial article on the Iron Curtain-like work conditions at Arrowhead, as described by many former and current Chiefs’ employees. Below are excerpts from the interview, OTC style. You can listen to the entire 79-minute interview at Royalmanreport.com.


“The media in this town is very corrupt. That’s the sports media I should say.”
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com
GH: Babb’s above comment was in answer to how some local media outlets ignored or downplayed the Chiefs article due to fear of repercussions from the Chiefs or pointed suggestions from the Chiefs to do so. Read on.

“Honestly, it seemed like it was a bigger story nationally than here in Kansas City. I was interested and sort of amused by what the reaction was by certain people. Certain radio
stations that I won’t name. Certain TV stations that I won’t name.”
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com

“It’s disappointing on a couple of levels. One of which is it’s a pretty major story in Kansas City. And for some of the people in Kansas City to just ignore it, that’s their prerogative
but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you have a big story to talk
about and you turn a blind eye.”
Kent Babb, on his reaction to his Chiefs’ story being ignored by some of the local media, Royalmanreport.com

“A lot of us in the media have to decide which master to serve because there are many temptations in this business. You can either serve your readers, listeners, viewers or you can serve the very teams that you are supposed to hold accountable. A lot of the
media in this town are more interested in serving the master they should be holding accountable. To me that’s shameful. That’s not the type of journalism I respect.”
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com
GH: Babb says a mouthful here. The temptations he speaks of are real. Many people get into sports media because they are fans – huge fans. Rubbing elbows with GMs, NFL athletes, NCAA coaches can make a rational human mad for more. It can give them a worthless self-worth the likes they have never known. Temptations also come in the way of money, profits and material goods. People are mostly weak when it comes to free. Few
can say no. The best ones do, though.

“If you can be bought or swayed or whatever, I’ve learned one thing and that is opinions are cheap in a lot of sports towns, not just here but around the country. If you can be talked into having a certain opinion, then your opinion isn’t worth much at all.”
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com
GH: Babb runs the risk with this kind of talk of alienating a lot of his friends and enemies in the local media. When you shine a light on the dark side of an industry, the cockroaches in that industry run – but they run to kill the source of the light.

“Maybe I don’t have the friends in the media [that I had prior to the story] but that’s okay. I didn’t get into this business to make friends.”
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com
GH: I have preached this mantra for some time. I do not dislike the people in the media whom I write about but neither do I have any social relationships or friendships with them. It is counterproductive. I have cautioned Nick Wright about his fascination with
befriending Chiefs’ players and how it undermines his credibility. When I poked him too much about it, he blocked me on Twitter. Everyone has to decide what master to serve.

“I got this from people I trust, that the Chiefs put in calls to several radio stations and asked them to have a certain opinion. If your opinion can be bought that easily, that’s
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com
GH: What are the Chiefs thinking? How can this be a good way to run your organization? Attempting to squash the truth is never productive. If the Chiefs are embarrassed by how their employees’ feel they are treated, change the way you’re treating your employees.

“I’d just rather not say [what TV station] it is.”
Kent Babb, after a local TV station contacted Babb to tell him they would not be airing his interview because they heard from the Chiefs, Royalmanreport.com
GH: Babb did not name radio stations or the TV station who bowed to the Chiefs whims. This allows Babb to feel good about not naming names but his silence indicts all local sports media outlets. If you are willing to tell the story, tell the whole story.

“I’m not trying to say that newspaper’s integrity is any higher. It’s just different.”
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com
GH: All mainstream news media outlets exist to make a profit. Newspapers, radio, television — it might not be what they want the consumer to believe but it is a fact. Does The Star bend their integrity at times? I have known it to. The lesson here is for consumers to question the motive of all news reports and opinions – no matter the media
source. A newspaper story staining your fingers is no more credible than the report you heard on FM radio on your way into work. That line is now not just blurred, it has been smudged into obsolesce.

“I would be very troubled if my newspaper entered into a corporate agreement with any team that we cover and are supposed to hold accountable.”
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com
GH: 610 Sports has corporate agreements with the Royals, Jayhawks and Mizzou. 810 has a much-promoted corporate agreement with the Chiefs. The Star accepts advertising from every sports team in the area. You cannot get around having to take money from the teams you must objectively cover. What you can do is be professional in how you do your job. Contracts do not corrupt unless you allow them to be corruptive.

“I’ve had a good working relationship with the Chiefs for four years now and I’d like to think that will continue. I don’t know what their reaction will be because I haven’t heard from them. … I can’t write stories and The Star can’t write stories just because somebody’s going to like them. That’s what our job is. We feel we need to write truth and sometimes truth is painful.”
Kent Babb, Royalmanreport.com
GH: Babb speaks a lot of truth in this interview – and I can imagine that much of it is painful for some to read.

and Twitter / greghall24 

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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39 Responses to OTC: KC Star’s Kent Babb Talks Frankly About The “Corrupt” & “Shameful” Sports Media In KC

  1. JP says:

    If this was the Carl Peterson Chiefs of the 2000′s, I have a feeling that a certain late afternoon talk show host would be going ballistic about the details of the Haley situation and the Chiefs bunker mentality. Having said that, Haley put himself into this mess by releasing dirty laundry that he knows he shouldn’t have. I suspect this is above Pioli and the Clark is making the decision. There will be a hearing and the arbitrator will decide and that will be that.

    Notice Haley has not been hired by any NFL teams yet. The Jets turned him down for a coaching position and Arizona seems to be his landing place. This situation has got to be making teams take a second look at Haley, to see if they want that headcase in their organization.

  2. The cockroaches have to run somewhere now that that candy wrapper finally got picked up at Arrowhead.

  3. kansas City Guy says:

    810 is now what they used to despise. They are not “run by fans” anymore. They schill everything they can and charge a high price to do so. A friend of mine gave them $3K to broadcast at his restaurant during lunch.
    All I hear on 810 is ads for many things, and KK saying how great it is to be in a conference w/ the Texas schools, although he had a much different opinion last year.

    KK is so out of touch with fans he thought Chiefs season ticket holders sat in their same seats at college games held in Arrowhead. These guys don’t pay to go to games and are treated to free food and drink whaile at the game. They have no idea what it is like to put down their own $1 to buy crappy tickets to a concert or game.
    Whenever a concert comes to town they are all in the free suite or great seats courtesy of their association with ticket scalpers, or the teams they schill for.
    How about the Sporting KC talk on 810? Their listeners don’t care about soccer yet the station has a deal with the team and are paid to bring it up during their shows. 810 is unethical, but doing well I suppose!
    I am sure 610 has their issues as well, but their hosts are pretty new so we don’t know much about them. Maybe if they stick around we will see their warts.

  4. Harwood Benjamin says:

    Beware, Kent Babb, of glass houses. The Star, especially when Joe McGuff held sway in the sports section and the editor’s office, was as timid as they come in pursuing anything that might reflect badly on our local heroes. (this may be the result of having the A’s, Scouts and Kings bug out for greener pastures). Maybe the new editor from Idaho has more fortitude than her predecessors.

  5. Jay says:

    Don’t forget 810′s direct or indirect corporate agreement with K-State.

  6. Harry Balczak says:

    I can’t wait until KK’s latest new segment on Between the Lines starts airing, it’s name is Scrotal Tuesday and it airs between 3-4 pm every Tuesday, featuring live from China Dr. Bag Hung Lo.