Star-Telegram business writer and chili cookbook author Barry Shlachter and local blogger Robert McKee are engaged in a bizarre battle of words involving a scavenger hunt, a trip to Scotland, a Hawaiian shirt and the meaning of funeral.

It all started over a scavenger hunt that McKee’s web site — — held earlier this summer. McKee was delayed in posting the winner because he took a trip to Scotland to scatter his father’s ashes over a family gravesite. Though his father died last year, McKee discovered an uncle in Scotland that not even his father knew existed, and decided to have a proper “burial” (his words) in the motherland at a grave marked McKee in his family’s ancestral town. He didn’t have much internet access while in Scotland and couldn’t update the site when he’d said he would. McKee said he was frustrated that he couldn’t announce the winners on time but didn’t think it was too big a deal.

One scavenger-hunter, Kevin McCambell — who, by the way had no chance of winning the contest because he didn’t finish the hunt — was upset because the results were not posted on time. The scorned scavenger e-mailed McKee multiple times, and McKee tried to explain the situation. But eventually, he lost his normally calm demeanor, as he explains on his web site:


“At this point I realize I am dealing with one of those rare people that are just so insensitive and immune to any human compassion or feeling whatsoever,” he writes. “I broke from my normal calm and angrily responded (his emphasis) ‘I AM AT MY FATHER’S FREAKING FUNERAL’ to send a message that, while I love running the contest and I love how passionate the players of the contest are, I am overseas honoring my father’s life and this takes precedent. Sorry.”

McCambell wasn’t satisfied, and crusaded throughout the city, complaining to the site’s prize donors and to Shlachter.

According to McKee, Shlachter called and asked him how he could be at a funeral for his father who died last year. McKee explained the situation, and even sent him a picture for further proof that he was sincere.

McKee writes on his site: “I found myself now having to prove to him where I was and why I was there,” he writes. “Needless to say, this was very irritating and distracting to me, but sensing that he’s going to write something about this, I obliged and actually sent him a photo of me spreading my father’s ashes at the cemetery. Something that I should have kept private, as, really, it was actually none of his freaking business.”

Shlachter’s article, which ran last Sunday, nitpicked McKee’s story: “scattering ashes in an Aloha shirt (he sent us a picture) may not be the same as a funeral (his father died in December), but why quibble?,” he wrote.

McKee responded on his site: “Sorry, Barry, I guess I didn’t know there was a dress code or time limit on honoring a dead parent. I guess spreading one’s ashes on a gravesite must not be referred to as a ‘funeral’ unless certain conditions are met,” he writes.

McClatchy Watch, a website whose sole purpose is to act as the corporation’s watchdog, ran a story blasting Shlachter for being insensitive, and many of the comments on the Star-T site also rip him. The funniest is this one:

“… such groundbreaking hard hitting investigative journalism going after a guy who was late updating a blog website because he was out of the country burying his father’s ashes. seriously??? man, every day it seems my dear old Fort Worth Star-Telegram is looking more and more like TMZ.”

McKee demanded an apology, and received a private one from Star-T editor Jim Witt, who said they could not give a public apology. Shlachter did not comment. McKee responded to Witt in an email obtained by Fort Worth Weekly.

“…if you are unwilling to prove that sometimes a Star-Telegram writer has the capability of ‘going too far’ as Mr. Shlachter did in this case, then let it be known that ethical accountability is no longer in place at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.”

How can a guy dressed like this criticize anyone's shirt?
How can a guy dressed like this criticize anyone's shirt? Photo by Jim Peipert taken from


  1. In a related story, I contacted Barry about a similar problem I had after entering a clean air contest sponsored by the City of FW. Weeks after the winner was to be announced I had heard nothing and the webpage had been removed from the city site. Multiple calls and emails got me nowhere. Within a few hours after emailing Barry today, volia!, a city staffer emailed telling me the answer would come Wednesday. Now I don’t know if Barry had anything to do with it, (He never answered my email.) but I was amazed at the coincidence. If interested, you can read about the contest and my entry at Pegasus News:

  2. I love this guy’s website, he is a funny writer and his articles have always been quirky enough to be interesting and he knows more about downtown Fort Worth than probably the mayor himself.

    It’s nice to see that this Kevin McCampbell, the senseless idiot who didn’t even finish the contest, thought he’d get some sort of comeuppance by whining to the newspaper, but instead is now getting his name blasted all over the country on this and other out-of-state and national blogs for being an insensitive impatient jerk. McKee’s counter-response on his website, without naming names, eloquently illustrates this as well. Tables have been turned!

    Barry Shlachter on the other hand must have absolutely nothing interesting to write about, what with all the booming construction projects and business deals transpiring in and around downtown Fort Worth. For him to accept the assignment (?) to investigate some childish 55 year old man’s stupid (I mean, Really stupid) complaint and then to continue with the story after being told McKee was overseas on personal family business really gives pause to his lack of journalistic skill, lack of an eye for what’s a story, and lack of sensitivity.

    I am hard pressed to believe the Star Telegram does not care to offer a duly earned apology. From the looks of it, they’ve sure messed with the wrong guy, and they may in fact be dumber than I thought.

  3. I’ve worked with McCampbell, this is exactly how he behaves in person, the guy is an obnoxious tool.

    By the way, Kev, if you’re reading this, I just noticed that the weather widget on says “Loading…”. Oh, crap, let’s all write Barry Shlachter,’s weather info isn’t loading!!!! Call him! He’ll do something! How will we know what temperature it is outside???? I’m hyperventilating because its our God given right for that website to work properly!!!!

  4. Has your favorite blog not been updated in a week?

    Have you not heard anything about your entry into the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes from last year??

    Have a losing Texas Lottery ticket???

    Call Barry Shlachter and he’ll get right on the case! And if you act within the next 20 minutes, he’ll even throw in a public ribbing of the person you want to complain about! Choose from any of these great Shlachterian themes he can harp on:

    a) Their citizenship grades from Kindergarten
    b) What they ate for breakfast last Tuesday
    c) Style of Coffin they chose to bury their grandmother in

    Act now!

  5. Thanks for referring to me as a chili cookbook author. But technically it is an unearned description despite my intense pride in the wee book, “Championship Chili” (Great Texas Line Press, 80 p. $5.95).

    It is a collection of winning recipes from two national chili cookoffs, so I am more “compiler” than author.

    Called the “best chili book on either side of the Pecos” (Big Bend Sentinel) and sold on Amazon and at hundreds of museum shops and gift stores around the state, it has had gone through 14 printings and no doubt has boosted the sales of antacids everywhere.

    That said, I usually refer to myself as the “former beer columnist of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.”

  6. I agree it is a great book. I especially love that one recipe “Four Alarm Fire(d) Reporter”.

    So, Barry, if I may sink to your sophomoric level for a moment, after a big heapin’ bowl of chili, do you then fart out your reports?

  7. A beer columnist.
    Harvard journalism students, take note of your ’86 alum!

    ……….And switch to finance, lol!

  8. Good thing you weren’t wearing those bike pants on the cover of your chili book.

    And don’t forget to tell the folks about “Texas Morning Glory: Memorable Breakfast Recipes from Lone Star Bed and Breakfast Inns” — available at the Sid Richardson Museum, as well as a couple of other compilation cook books you’ve written. You gotta learn to self promote Barry!

  9. Yes, that’s a classic too. But don’t forget Barry’s epic book “Blogs of Texas and their Hilariously Parent-Mourning Webmasters” (Hack Writer Press, 112p, $2.50)

    Oh, oh, and “Yes, M’Dear Kevin: One Man’s Tale of Hardship in a Cruel Cruel World of Hard Online Contests, and How I Helped Heal Him” (Douchebag House, 204p, $1.00)


  10. Howdy folks! Ok, I’m done doubling over in laughter from the great comments left on here, and I suppose I should now chime in.

    I’ll just say Mr. Barry has been given fair warning and we will see what transpires. Will his ego get the best of him and have me proceed with Operation: Scotch Bonnet? (Hah, you see what I did, there?) Or will he come to his senses and realize he made a grave mistake in the selection of his words with a sincere apology? As Barry once wrote, “Stay tuned!”


  11. theres a lot of talk about this barry guy but lets remember there are 2 pricks here.

    barry’s article was really pointless and stupid but kevin mccampbell — i’m more wary of that guy. after an initial google search, it appears he manages a maaco on north main, and let me tell you, if my car needed collision work i would be hesitant to have it under watch by this unstable whiny bitch. imagine having a complaint about their work on your car, he would call his buddy barry and raise a stink, then barry would dig up your past and write about how your mom was a stripper once in the 1970s.

    maaco should be aware who is running their shops. i know that because of this guy being such an ass in the paper, i wont be going to the n. main maaco. just sayin.

  12. I personally was relieved to see Mr.Shlachter article. All last week the topic of conversation at the company for which I work was the mystery as to why was not updated. Anyone who has ever worked for a large company knows how gossip and rumours have a life of their own. Let’s just say imaginations ran wild. When Barry broke the news that the webmaster was overseas for a memorial I don’t know if I was more relieved or angry.

    Part of me wanted to think “Hey, this is just a contest used to promote a privately run website. I’m sure the guy runs it all himself with perhaps a few donations from DT business, and since here is no charge for entering so no one is really being defrauded. So if he is merely overseas, I can wait a few more days to learn the winner and the solutions.” But at the same time, how dare Mr. McKee. Not to sound insensitive, but he should just get over the passing of his father already. I personally have never entered this letter contest, but I’ve followed it for several years. I generate a lot of traffic to his site and I feel I am OWED contest solutions in a timely manner.

    How would Mr. McKee feel if the Star-Telegram didn’t publish the solution to the previous day’s crossword puzzle?! I bet he’d be angry too.

  13. thomroll, I am offended that you think a person can just “get over” the passing of any loved let alone a parental unit. How a person chooses to honor or grieve their loved ones is their business and their business alone. Robert is a kind and loving father himself and it was only his honor he was trying to uphold from a man who was trying make him out as a jerk. And anyone who has lost a parent knows unless you never really loved them…you honor and cherish their memory any chance you get!

  14. This isnt related to the comments here but yesterday I saw Barry checking his fly three, four times in the FWST parking lot before he went inside.

  15. Wow Barry,

    You’re using the Big Bend Sentinel as a critical source? Then again, as a writer for the Star-Telegram, you know nothing about good journalism or newspapers.