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By Stacy Harris
Copyright 2024
Stacy's Music Row Report  All Rights Reserved

Kirt Webster PR Six Years After its Dissolution: An Update

It's been six years since the abrupt shuttering of Kirt Webster Public Relations and two years since the publication of Kirt Webster, the Demise of Webster PR: An Unprecedented  Investigation, Sex Scandal & Update.

With the subhead "The Status of Austin Rick's Book, Venmo Prostitution?, A Leaked WTVF-TV Internal Memo, A Veiled Threat...," there's enough substance to follow up on any of my findings, should they be in dispute.  Yet the silence, save for threats from Zachary Robert Farnum and (post-publication) Jesse Knutson, as well as a surreptitious directive, apparently from (spoiler alert) Kirt Webster, has been deafening.

Unfortunately, few outlets covering Music Row (most egregiously the industry tax-favored 501s and the rip-and-read dominated publication that bears its name), including the trades, report on the Row as a business.  That would require investigative reporting, a certain doggedness absent among those I call "professional fans," and the willingness to suffer the consequences.

What is to follow assumes that the reader has read the above article, as well as the information provided by the linked sources within, in order to provide proper context.  No doubt criticism, to be sure most of it provided anonymously, will come from those who have done neither.

Kirt Bryan Webster has been on Kyle Stephen Coroneos' radar for some time.  By his own admission, Coroneos is not a journalist, let alone an investigative reporter.

A blogger, who prefers to be known by his provocative nickname, "Trigger" solicits what is usually- surprise?- anonymous reaction to his comments.  He covers Music Row but does not reside in Music City, let alone the state of Tennessee.

Needless to say, that lack of familiarity with the turf (except on those occasions when local nuances receive broader exposure) and accountability feeds Webstermania while failing to answer the questions I have previously raised re: a lack of media followup that should be the objective of anyone interested in the true narrative. 

Have Tamara Saviano and The Grascals said all they want to say? 

Shouldn't Austin Rick be forced to explain his backtracking, provide an itemized accounting for, and otherwise reveal the destination of, any and all money he collected from supporters?

Shouldn't Scripps do a real internal investigation of its Nashville CBS affiliate's reporting as it pertains to Webster PR, thorough in its query so as to identify who leaked its highly unusual internal memo, to how many recipients (ideally identified) and why?

And what about Steve Cavendish?  Cavendish broke the the story that precipitated the sudden closing of Webster PR, though I suspect Cavendish's partnership with WTVF, already problematic for a "nonprofit" wanting to steer clear of conflicts-of-interest, would dissuade Steve from peeking too closely into Channel 5's personnel matters.

Privacy advocates might be interested in establishing the veracity of the reported Venmo exchanges, whether the platform was the source of the supposed message exchanges (which, if they occurred as circulated, happened long before Venmo's vulnerability was exposed) and, if greater malfeasance was involved, getting to the bottom of who engaged in account hacking and why?

The reported exchanges resulted in some collateral damage: Again, I made successive attempts to give Kalie Shorr a heads up prior to the publication of her purported Venmo exchanges with Farnum,
but Shorr's management team turned a deaf ear.  For whatever reason, Kalie is no longer one of Farnum's publicity clients, but that outcome seems to be symptomatic of an industry that historically, rather than learning from its mistakes, seems hell-bent on repeating them. (I have since contacted Shorr through her website and if there is a response to that October 30, 2023 query I will update this page accordingly.)

Unlike Shorr, Knutson, rewarded by the Row's historical embrace of white male privilege, has resurfaced unscathed.

Enter former Webster associate, Jason Ashcraft.  Ashcraft's "open letter to my readers and all media professionals" decrying "industry predators within our ranks who are being harbored, hidden and supported by certain people and artists" landed as an exclusive with the blogger who had previously quoted Jason re: Ashcraft's prior association with Webster.

Though Zach Farnum excised me from his media contact list (only to request to "connect" with me through Alignable), as of this writing I remain on Jason's media contact list. 

All this to indicate, ironically, as the only journalist to date to raise a series of unanswered questions about the denouement of Webster PR, I was not among those contacted in a roundup for the purpose of providing "Statements submitted by other (than Jason) industry professionals."

I should also note my extensive reporting's exclusion from the "Partial List of Past Related Media Coverage by Real Journalists" (due to the listings being incomplete or because, after an unmatched continuous  half-century as a print and broadcast reporter, I have yet to establish in the minds of some of a generation born after I was an established country-music author, academician and multimedia journalist that I am a "real journalist?").

On the bright side, I suppose, there is "honor" in my byline not appearing on the provider's "List of Sham Journalism & White-Wash [sic] Articles by So-Called 'Journalists.'"

Along those lines, it is said that the most respected journalism is that which is judged to be fair by virtue of reaction it receives from partisans who detect bias even as they totally disagree with each other as to which extreme end of the spectrum is supposedly represented and revealing of such alleged blatant one-sidedness.

Indeed, my response to the Nashville's Scene's October 31, 2017 revelation, since removed with the rest of the reader comments, but preserved here, requesting only that there not be a rush to judgment, elicited these comments (among a host of others) from Trigger's no doubt erudite, articulate and predictably anonymous Amen Corner; a group who unanimously did not perceive any value in proceeding cautiously in the spirit of the Golden Rule.

To wit: 

"You're sick."-- M.J.

"...Siding against Kirt Webster would be bad for (Stacy Harris') career." -- Tom

"Congratulations, Stacy Harris.  Your comment just took the top spot as the most self-important, condescending, victim-shaming, bass-ackwards, egotistical post of 2017... Bless your heart."-- Hayley

Fast forward to the unannounced disappearance of
Kirt Webster, the Demise of Webster PR: An Unprecedented  Investigation, Sex Scandal & Update from its other "homes" on Newsbreak (though that censorship has been reconsidered) and Issuu.

Say what?

According to "Karen," Issuu's
Customer Success Associate, "We received a request on behalf of Kirt Webster... I hope this helps to answer your request."

Well, I guess we have keyboard cowardice on the one hand and..."

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