What has happened to the Kansas City Star’s TV critic Aaron Barnhart?
That has been the question on the minds of media watchers for months now.
Barnhart has not written anything since December 25 at the McClatchy-owned newspaper and not Tweeted anything since Dec. 10. This is from a columnist who has been in the media eye for years.
Since 1997, Barnhart has been the television critic for the Star. His TV Barn blog has been online since 1999 and his work has appeared in the Village Voice, New York Times and Entertainment Weekly.
The Star, which normally leaks like a sieve with layoffs and personnel changes, is very close-mouthed about the veteran columnist. Rumors about serious health issues abound.
“Aaron is still with The Star, but he’s on a leave,” a high-ranking source at the newspaper told Bottom Line in February. “I’m afraid I don’t know when he’ll be back, but he’s still an employee.”
“Is he still at the Star? I haven’t seen a story from him in a month. Just curious if you knew anything,” wrote a reader to this site in February.
“Is Aaron Barnhart on his furlough from The Star right now?” wrote a local TV person to BLC in March. “Haven’t seen or heard from him in awhile.”
“I was on vacation during February and realized recently that I’ve not seen his byline in the Star, nor has his column been updated online since December,” said a reader in March. “What’s going on? I hope he is not sick again. Thanks.”
“It does seem odd that he’d go out with a whimper instead of a bang,” wrote another to BLC.
A source close to the local media was asked if he had heard anything.
“If I learn anything, I’ll let you know,” she said. “And I know that you’ll post something once you know. That’s why I love your site.”
“I queried him a while ago about his ‘net absence and he replied the following:”I am on leave for a while. I’ll explain later when I come back…” forwarded a note by a local blogger.