Sometimes, You Have to Throw Up Your Hands and Let People Be Ignorant

When I was writing my post last week about the Wichita Eagle's new K-State sports beat writer, there was one detail over which I agonized.  It wasn't how much of certain quotes to include or which links to use as authority for my points.

It was whether to point out that Kellis Robinett is a KU grad.

In the end, I decided to put that in, because it's background for why so many K-State fans are so unhappy with the Eagle's choice of Robinett.  To me, it was part of telling the story.  To other, bigger news outlets, apparently it was the story.

We really thought we were done with this issue at BOTC.  No matter how disingenuous and contradictory the explanations coming out of Wichita were, what was done was done.  Even if I did have the power to get a beat reporter fired -- and rest assured, I have no illusions that I do -- my beef was with the decision-makers at the Eagle moreso than it was with Robinett.

It would be unfair for me to say otherwise.  The only thing we have against Robinett is that he doesn't like K-State, and has said so in print several times.  It would be blatantly hypocritical for me to be mad about that, because we don't like KU, and say so just about every week on this site.  Granted, we're not being considered for the position of writing about KU football or basketball, but it would be laughable for me to call for someone to be fired for writing what Robinett did.

Apparently, we're the only ones interested in making such fine distinctions.  Since this hire was made, it has been considered big enough news to be featured on Deadspin, The Wiz of Odds, and now The Big Lead.  I'm not sure what took The Big Lead so long, but they're a full week late to this story and they still didn't manage to get it right.

As a matter of fact, none of those outlets got it right.  Each one presented the issue as a bunch of K-State fans mad that the Eagle hired a KU grad to cover K-State.  I assure you, if our only issue with this hire was that Robinett is a KU grad, I would not have bothered to write one word about it, and this story never would have been important enough to be featured on three large blogs.  I'm guessing also that 810's Kevin Keitzman wouldn't have bothered to devote a lot of his monologue to it, and to ask several guests about it, back on August 24, if the only issue had been that Robinett was a KU grad.

To reiterate, K-State fans were unhappy for several reasons.  First, Robinett has written several things indicating he really doesn't like Manhattan or K-State.  They are chronicled in the previous post, but here's the recap:

KSU Stadium still has wooden benches for seats, the women's basketball team is a bigger attraction than the men's team, and the Power Cat is the most generic logo in the country.

Yes, there's a lot to hate about Manhattan, but it has a few saving graces.  The Wildcats were the first to play the "Wabash Cannonball," and schools across the nation have stolen the tradition since.

The tailgating scene for football games is awesome.  It doesn't matter how cold it gets, RV's and tents always stretch as far as the eye can see.

And when the occasional large crowd shows up to Bramlage Coliseum it has a good atmosphere.

Emphasis added.  I must say, Robinett really redeemed himself by saying that tailgating is awesome in Manhattan after he said "there's a lot to hate about Manhattan."  C'mon, Ricky Bobby, just because you say "with all due respect" doesn't mean you can say whatever you want.

Predicted Wins: Adams State, at Kansas State, South Dakota, Weber State, Eastern Washington, at Sacramento State, Northern Colorado, at Northern Arizona, Portland State

...Snip...

I also predict Montana State will also win a road game against a FBS opponent. The Bobcats get two great opportunities with Kansas State and Minnesota on the schedule. K-State welcomes in more JUCO transfers than any team in history (not really, but it's a lot) and Minnesota was arguably the worst BCS team in the country last year.

The Bobcats get Kansas State first, and the Wildcats typically struggle against FCS opponents at home. They had to survive a two-point conversion try from Illinois State to win by one two years ago. That's the game I see Montana State winning.

...and K-State beat Montana State, 69-10.  Nice call there by the Swami.

So Tim Fitzgerald says Denis Clemente's idiotic actions of elbowing Brady Morningstar and slapping Tyrel Reed were brought on by players on the Kansas bench shouting racial slurs at him, huh?

Yeah, I don't think so.

Maybe if he weren't the editor of a K-State fan site I would believe the claim. Or maybe if he in fact had heard the racial slurs himself, rather than members of his staff claiming to have heard them and passing the gossip along to him I would believe the claim. Or maybe if it were humanly possible for people on press row to hear anything that players say to each other on the court I would believe the claim.

But he is biased. He didn't hear the words himself. And, as a college basketball beat writer myself, I know first hand it is not possible to clearly make out anything that's said on the basketball court in a crowded stadium. So, I must agree with Kansas coach Bill Self here and say that hearing those ridiculous claims, "Really pisses me off."

By the way, how funny is it that the normal KU media all chose to censor the word pisses?

And since when did "Where is your green card?" become a racial slur? I had worse things said to me today while shopping at Costco.

This snippet is part of a larger problem that K-State fans had with the hire.  In this post, from Robinett's old blog, "The Jayhawk Lounge," he manages to take a swipe at another media member, demonstrate a fairly obvious bias toward K-State, and showcase a complete ignorance of world geography and racial relations.

I think I speak for the majority of K-State fans when I say that, had Robinett only been a KU grad and the only strike against him was his "there's a lot to hate about Manhattan" comment that was written in the University Daily Kansan while he was a student, this wouldn't have been such an issue that it would have found its way on to three major Internet sites.  However, the really interesting stuff happened next.

PAY ATTENTION, OPERATORS OF MAJOR BLOGS, BECAUSE I'M ABOUT TO RELATE THE REASON WHY A LOT OF K-STATE FANS ARE UNHAPPY ABOUT THIS HIRE.  YOU'VE MANAGED TO COMPLETELY MISS THE BOAT THUS FAR, SO I FIGURED I'D MAKE IT REALLY EASY FOR YOU THIS TIME.

When Robinett was hired, he was apparently told to delete the blog.  I know this because I emailed Kirk Seminoff, the Eagle's sports editor, and asked him.  He said they knew about the blog and told Robinett to delete it because they don't permit staff members to maintain personal Web sites.  That's an interesting explanation, because Robinett explained that he hadn't written anything on the blog since May, and the other bloggers had lost interest.  Basically, the site was dead.

So the Eagle had a choice, and they chose to make him delete the blog.  Never mind that deleting the blog created the inference that they were trying to hide something, and also that they apparently though K-State fans had no idea what magical powers Google Cache holds.  It would have been perfectly acceptable to tell Robinett that he was not permitted to continue writing for the blog, and to monitor the blog occasionally to make sure he didn't.  By doing so, the paper could have avoided even the hint of having something to hide.  Instead, they had him delete the blog, and when the magic of Google Cache was unleashed on The Jayhawk Lounge, they refused to talk about it.  They refused interview requests from, at least, BOTC and from Kevin Keitzman at 810 WHB in Kansas City.  Think about that.  A media source at the center of a controversy decided they just weren't going to talk about it.  If a public official had done the same thing, he'd have been excoriated by every opinion columnist and editorial board that covered him.  But this was a newspaper, and they didn't have to explain themselves.  When they did decide to explain themselves, they did so on their terms.  They didn't submit to questioning.  They framed the issues as they wanted them framed, and offered their answers, without the possibility of follow up questions or discussion.

To further the "something to hide" meme, in Robinett's first blog post, he wrote the following:

Covering the Wildcats and writing for their extremely loyal fan base (you) is an opportunity I've always wanted to have.

Never mind the fact that he had previously written that "there's a lot to hate about Manhattan" and other things indicating he didn't particularly care for K-State.  This was "an opportunity he always wanted."  When you combine deleting the blog with acting like it was his childhood dream to cover K-State, it screams to me that they were hoping it wouldn't become public that he had written the things he had written about K-State.

No, folks, this is not about a KU grad writing the K-State sports beat.  I'm fully aware that many beat writers cover sports for a university that is a rival of their alma mater.  The issue here is about a pattern of comments over time that evidence a clear bias against the subject of the beat, combined with several actions that give the impression that the paper was trying to hide what Robinett had written in the past.  I'm not here to say that there was some vast bird-wing conspiracy to sabotage K-State, but if the paper really thought this wasn't going to cause a stir, they are not well-educated in the workings of the world.

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