The Press fills in where the Chron falls down

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The Houston Chronicle dropped the ball earlier this week regarding complaints made by Barbara Davis, a former supporter of Ted Poe who has turned on the Congressional candidate and former judge.

Davis, who has largely been ignored by local media despite voicing complaints about Poe’s later treatment of a 1996 tragedy that revolved around a drunk driver hitting Davis’ car and killing her husband and housekeeper, finally got local media to bite on her complaints after an organization, Texans for True Sentencing, put her and another critic (Carolyn Hardin, whose complaint dates to 1998) forward in a press conference.

Unfortunately for Poe, who is in the midst of a tough campaign against Nick Lampson, the Chronicle‘s Kristen Mack devoted scant attention to the facts behind the allegations:

In 1996, Davis’ car was hit by a teenage drunken driver, killing her husband and housekeeper and critically injuring her. Poe’s sentencing included conditions such as a six-month jail sentence, shock probation and a requirement that the defendant carry pictures of the victims in his wallet. He also prohibited him from having a driver’s license for 10 years.

Three years later, Davis found out the defendant got his driver’s license back. When she tried to reach Poe, her calls went unreturned, she said.

That’s it. The rest of the story is basically “he said/she said” filler that sheds little detail on the controversy. Mack concludes her article with strong criticism from Nick Lampson, Poe’s opponent in the Congressional race. Nowhere does the article delve into the background of the “organization” behind the press conference, an organization that as of the time of this post turned up exactly three references on google (all related to Mack’s Chronicle story). Also as of the time of this post, neither or is a registered web domain. Perhaps the organization has been in existence for some time (instead of being thrown together hastily during political season to hurt a Congressional candidate), but that’s not the impression given by Mack’s reporting or from web searches.

Fortunately, Sarah Fenske provides much more background on the Davis allegations in a story in this week’s Houston Press. Fenske’s story seems a bit more sympathetic to Davis than to Poe, but there are enough facts for readers to make an informed decision on the matter. The same is not true of Mack’s coverage of the story.

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX