So, WFAA-Channel 8's picking on Zac Crain, whilst its Belo print counterpart is stickin' it to Tom Leppert. At least, that's the impression this morning after both outlets ran with stories about most of the front-running mayoral candidates' voting records: Channel 8's Chris Heinbaugh leads his piece by damning the former Dallas Observer music editor for his having voted in only six of the last 17 elections, while The News' Dave Levinthal leads his piece with, "Tom Leppert wants to become Dallas' next mayor, and presuming he votes for himself this May, it'll be the first ballot he's ever cast for the office." Leppert doesn't even get mentioned till two minutes into Heinbaugh's 2:35-long story.
The timing on both stories is interesting, to say the least. On February 26, we got forwarded to us the following e-mail:
"Tom Leppert has never voted in a school board or city council election. I guess he think so low of our kids, the city, and the office of mayor and city councilthat he didnt need to do it. I havent seen this reported anywhere."
We're now going to guess we're not the only ones who found this in our inboxes. Either that, or everyone's having the exact same idea at the exact same time. Yeah, that's probably it.
If nothing else, it's also interesting to compare how 'FAA and The News treated the candidates: On TV, Zac's stats are accompanied by what appears to be a county lock-up mugshot, and Heinbaugh talks all over his answers, giving him little chance to explan himself. Levinthal, whose story doesn't even mention our former colleague till after the story's jump, allows Zac a little more space to breathe:
Mr. Crain says he's not proud of his record, explaining that he didn't regularly vote because he felt disenfranchised by Dallas' political process. And that's precisely why he says he's running for mayor: to give a voice to Dallasites who have long felt bypassed or ignored by local politicians.
"I got married, I had a kid. I understand what's at stake now," said Mr. Crain, who voted in the November general election.
Ironically, Heinbaugh follows Zac with a quote from Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University and WFAA's political analyst. Jillson says: "A politician that doesn't vote much has some explaining to do." Yeah, but who has the time to explain anything on TV news? But...hey, did Jillson just refer to Zac Crain as a politician? --Robert Wilonsky
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.