Friday, October 19, 2007

Sympathy for the Devil

The Independent has declared Patrick LeBlanc's candidacy in the House District 43 race "troubling." It's not nearly as disturbing as the fact that no Democrat stepped into this Republican family feud, but I digress.

The most disturbing thing about the race in District 43 is not LeBlanc's candidacy but the manner in which all of the established media outlets in Lafayette have taken the story handed to them by Senator Mike Michot and his operatives, and postured as though the story that was handed to them was actually investigative journalism.

While The Advocate has distinguished itself with some innovative coverage of out-of-state, radical conservative money coming into the state in the current election cycle, the same cannot be said of the reporting at the other papers.

Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't vote for Patrick LeBlanc if I lived in his district. But, it's got nothing to do with whether he bribed anyone or not.

The fact that he profits from human warehousing was enough for me to know that this guy is not fit to hold public office. Human warehousing is about on par with war profiteering — which is apparently viewed by many in these parts as a perfectly acceptable means of supporting a lifestyle. That is, as long as you don't run for office against the hand-picked candidate of Lafayette's version of the Kennedys.

So, LeBlanc's real 'crime' — the fact that there are no rehabilitative services offered at LeBlanc-run prisons is also apparently perfectly fine and meets standards and expectations among the elite this community — goes unreported and unexamined. That part of LeBlanc's work — the part that should be the source of real moral outrage against his candidacy — is considered perfectly acceptable and not worthy of the expenditure of a reporter's time or interest. No, Patrick LeBlanc's real crime, in view of many, is that he and his brother are being investigated. The non-controversial perception of LeBlanc's work is made clear by the high-level endorsements his campaign has garnered. No one has publicly criticized LeBlanc for his line of work.

No doubt every paper in town will submit their respective coverage of the LeBlancs' Texas travails for awards when the cycle begins in 2008. There are enough specialized categories and trade segments around to ensure that some will 'win.'

But, before the chest thumping begins in earnest, the question that needs to be asked is what has gone unreported in this election cycle that will come back to haunt us in the next four years?

Voters would be wise to see past LeBlanc's slick, deceptive ad campaign. But, they would be equally wise to wonder what important stories local have ignored as local media have all jumped on the 'get LeBlanc' bandwagon. It's almost enough to make one feel sorry for LeBlanc.

Almost. But, not quite.

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